Southgate in 7th Heaven at Hove

Result : WIN 7-1 vs Brighton and Hove

Match Report by Alastair Whatley

It was to be a game of all the 7’s. Here are some facts. Last year in 18 games Southgate scored 29 goals with a 1.6 average goal per game ratio. In their first game of the season away from home Southgate scored 7 and have promptly taken up residence at the top of the table. The result doesn’t do the game justice. More than that Brighton are led by Welsh international Joe Naughalty who is recovering from a rib injury but back on the pitch in his number 7 shirt to meet old rival and fellow player/coach Kwan Browne also in his number 7 shirt and now firmly into his new role with us at Southgate.

Brighton & Hove v Southgate – MHL Division 1 South at Blatchington Mill School, Hove, Sussex, UK on 25 September 2022. Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Brighton & Hove are fine and generous hosts, they play at Blatchington Mll School in Hove on a pitch famed for slipping up over-confident visiting teams (both literally and metaphorically speaking). The spectators stand on a raised grassy bank on one side which looks out over towards the distant English Channel and on a fabulously sunny afternoon Southgate pushed back to get proceedings under way.

Brighton & Hove v Southgate – MHL Division 1 South at Blatchington Mill School, Hove, Sussex, UK on 25 September 2022. Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Immediately the ball fell to Kwan who offered a long ball aerial from our 23’ into the Brighton D brought down well by Matt Ramshaw who almost whipped the ball across goal for an early chance. Brighton countered down the middle channel and in a nice move forced the ball wide and then left with a shot whipped across Ollie Wickens’ boughs in the Southgate goal which ricocheted off the post for an early scare. Unperturbed Kwan picked the ball back up shot another glorious aerial high into the sun drenched Brighton skies where it flew long and true into the opposing D and promptly brought the first Gate PC of the game.

Middleton injected, Weissen trapped and on league debut Teague Marcano flicked, but the Brighton runner was fast out forcing a re-award. Second time was a mirror image of the first except Teague shifted his weight and wrong footed the same runner sending the ball like rocket hurtling into the top right netting and Southgate were 1-0 up after 3 minutes.

The Southgate team play with a high intensity, the ball fizzing like a whirring dervish from stick to stick as players overlap and move with speed and seeming inevitability into opposition territory. Yet occasionally some moments of individual skill shine to the surface and such was the case minuets later when new signing Karan Sofat turned over the ball in our 23’ and danced the ball like Grace Kelly onto the right wing and then carved his way into the middle before finding Jose to his right who fired the ball P spot bound for a clean deflected finish from Teague who made it 2 goals in 3 minutes.

Southgate proceeded to then dominate completely with sustained pressure in the Brighton half, as the ball transferred around with Rob Gill and Kwan Browne at centre back both serenely calm distributing the ball back in a text book like display of precision passing. The Brighton defences held for a good ten minutes until just before the end of Q1 Dan West forced another PC and once again Teague at top D dropped his shoulder, shifted his runner off balance and put the ball top left this time, Chris Borsoi in the Brighton goal got a touch to it with is outstretched stick but the velocity was too much and the ball collided with the netting to the roar of the two Southgate supporters who had made the long journey down…and who were being duly rewarded with the scoreline 3-0 at the end of Q1. Teague Marcano making arguably the fastest hat-trick on debut in league history.

Brighton & Hove v Southgate – MHL Division 1 South at Blatchington Mill School, Hove, Sussex, UK on 25 September 2022. Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Minutes into Q2, Teague was back in the fray and set up a ball nicely to Dan West who finished on his reverse making it 4-0. A long way back for Brighton at this point. Yet on restart Brighton in a bid to escape the intense Southgate pressure threw a long ball towards the goal, a chip and run in Rugby terms- Ollie Wickens was left exposed and came to meet the ball and the driving Sam Rose from the Brighton forward line. It was a 50/50 which Rose somehow came out the better side of, as the ball trickled with impertinence over the Gate goal line. 4-1.

The game ebbed and flowed a bit more through the remainder of Q2 and Brighton countered well for a time, at one point sending a nice ball in from the left to outstretched stick of their centre forward who was left with only our keeper to beat, the goal would have made it 4-2 and put Brighton back in with a sniff of recovery, yet somehow the prone attacker missed the ball entirely to the collective groan of the banked Brighton supporters.

Brighton & Hove v Southgate – MHL Division 1 South at Blatchington Mill School, Hove, Sussex, UK on 25 September 2022. Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Southgate enjoyed two more PC chances one of which in a nice variation found Ramshaw on the right slip for a coruscating slap across goal, nicely saved by Borsoi. The game however went into half time 4-1 and Gate were cruising.

It would have been easy for the team to back off, ease off the pressure tap and the sharp focus of the first half- instead they seemed to double down and came out even harder for Q3. The Brighton players were increasingly ragged as they were run around trying to break the Southgate lines. Jose Hurtado who was having a superb game soon picked up the ball and dodged his way around half the Brighton players as he hit baseline, threw the ball into the D, controlled it and shipped it back to- of course- Teague who leathered it in for his 4th, 5-1.

By Q4 it was perhaps a question of how many. Borsoi was being increasingly called into action with saves from Kwan and Ramshaw flicks and Hamilton deflections keeping the score-line respectable- until Teague once again flicked the ball home top right for his 5th making it 6-1. There grew some inevitable frustration from the Brighton players who started attempting to out muscle their way onto the ball. Ramshaw, Weissen and others found themselves unmoored from some tough challenges which led Brighton down to 10 men on a couple of occasions. 

The game however was almost done just not before Charles Hamilton forced his way across the Brighton D throwing the ball onto his reverse and snarking it with clinical accuracy passed the reeling Borsoi for his first and Southgate’s 7th. The final whistle was met with relief by the home supporters. Southgate had dominated the 70 minutes of action, taken their opportunities, even leaving a fair few on the pitch, it could have been 10. 

The overall impression as the team enjoyed the generous Brighton hospitality and the fine Roast served by their Club Chairman and his team was of a consummate team performance that left a good team out played on the day. The result had laid down a marker on the competitive Div 1 South League.

Congratulations to the squad and to Huw and Kwan for a consummate performance and a big happy birthday to manager Simon Parker, who was presented with his birthday cake by Southgate legend Joe Sterlini who came to (quietly as he now plays for Brighton) cheer on the boys and brother John. Thanks to Brighton & Hove HC for hosting us and we look forward to welcoming them to Trent Park in the spring.

This week come and see the team in action as we welcome Teddington to Trent Park for what promises to be a great evening of hockey.