A Teague Marcano wonder goal helped Southgate to their 9th consecutive win against Old Cranleighans on a chilly November night under the Surrey skies.
After a taut, tense encounter against Sevenoaks last weekend, Kwan Browne and his team were looking for a dominant performance against a side who have struggled to find the form of last season. Yet Cranleighans under coach William Marshall came into the game boosted by a strong performance away at Bath and had the benefit of the partisan home crowd and their Hogwarts style wooden stand which sits adjacent to their pitch.
Southgate lined up strongly with Dan West returning from injury and immediately made his presence felt as within 160 seconds he had helped set up the in form Matt Ramshaw for a fine finish from the right hand side of the D with Sam Weissen elemental in creating the opportunity down the left channel. Cranleighans confidence was clearly dented and Southgate continued to dominate in a display of free flowing hockey with plenty of incursions into the opposition circle.
The OC’s drum sounded lonely by the stand as their spectators dug in for a long night and it took until the 13th minute for their fears to be confirmed when Karan Sofat picked up his first goal of the season with a magnificent diving deflection followed by an even more magnificent celebration.
It looked at this point as if Gate were going to run wild but to their credit OC’s rallied and forced a PC which was converted with real finesse and power by Erik Van Kesteren. Savvas in the Southgate goal read it, but even he couldn’t stop the rocket from eclipsing his outstretched left glove.
Q2 saw Kwan ratchet up the pressure with the team working overtime to extend their advantage, the intensity combined with a greasy pitch not helped by the evening mist adding to a febrile few minutes of play, plenty of bodies on the floor with Southgate pressing hard , turning over well in midfield and driving dangerous attacks coming from all sides of the pitch.
It only took until the 22nd minute for the pressure to crack the OC’s defence when Dan West sealed a fine come back with a well struck goal which was preceded by a canny dummy sending Southgate 3-1 up.
8 minutes later, Teague Marcano in his number 16 shirt came out down the left and produced, even by his standards, a rare moment of brilliance. For all budding attacking players, Marcano shows that unique ability when time seems to go slower for him than anyone else on the pitch, Dan West passed a superb ball incisively to out number 16, and whilst the OC’s defence crashed around his baseline incursion into their circle, Marcano simply danced around jostling the ball onto his stick and as Joshue Doble in the OC’s goal advanced on him closing down the scoring angle to the thinnest degree, Marcano like a man without a care in the world stepped back, stick glued to his extended stick and as nonchalant as you like simply lobbed the keeper the ball soaring into the night sky and dipping just below the cross bar. There followed a moment of disbelieving silence cum reverence and that was followed by another celebration as Southgate began to really annoy the OC’s increasingly glum supporters.
Insult to injury was added just a minute later on the stroke of half time when Charles Hamilton caught a rebounded PC effort and collared it home past the unfortunate Doble, at half time the scoreline read 5-1 and OC’s looked very much on the ropes.
Cranleighans put on a show and their vocal crowd helped to lift and energise their team who came out much stronger in the second half, as others have done to stem to the fireworks of the Southgate attacking threat OC’s sat back deeper and managed to stem the free flowing attacks of the first half.
Within 3 minutes of Q3 Benedict Roe charged the Southgate D in a nice counterattacking move and finished well to give the OC’s support something to shout (and drum) about. Yet they were still 3 goals from parity and Southgate begun minute by minute to wear down the tiring OC’s players. Frustration started creeping in around the edges and despite Southgate coming off with a couple of unfortunate cards by the final quarter the team responded with a fine team goal with Karan Sofat hurling himself at a ball whipped along as if struck by Thor’s hammer (Dan West with less of a hammer and more of a tomahawk) from the right baseline and a fine reverse deflection saw Sofat secure his brace and put the game firmly to bed.
There was fine work up and down the Southgate pitch, mention in dispatches to the hard working screens and half backs, but it was another day when the forwards stole the headlines. A well deserved rest now for the team before the campaign resumes in February ready to push on and turn what has become a historic start into the the stuff of legend.