Result : LOSS 0-1 vs Canterbury 1
Match Report : Alastair Whatley
Canterbury arrived at Southgate’s Trent Park fortress in buoyant spirits. With 3 wins on the bounce adding wind to their sails and coming off our last match up 7-1 victors Canterbury are a team pushing for promotion as Southgate are doing an Everton and fighting for survival in the Div 1 South league.
The rain was beginning to fall in a horizontal manner as the 18:30 push back loomed. The crowds nevertheless crowded in on the balcony replete with satiated appetites from the Pizza and looking forward to Stroller sponsored wine and cheese at half time. Andy and Kate Richardson had also invited some Canterbury supporters who were not backwards in coming forwards to lend their away support.
The whistle went and the game began on the button of 18:30 as once again Savas the Hero of Sevenoaks once again stood Trojan like (with less armour- especially on arms) in the Gate goal. Southgate attacked early with a ball whipping across the Canterbury goal- which was then not just passed but rather given more air than Christopher Biggins on channel 5 from one end of the pitch to the other. The ball surprised even the experience of Iain Gordon on the defensive lines and fell deep into the Southgate right hand goal line. Yet then to make the feat more remarkable, the ball was controlled, popped up and volleyed hard at an angle past Savas and into the goal netting’s top corner. Bish. Bash. Bosh. 1-0 and Southgate supporters prepared for a long evening.
Yet far from crumbling the men in red and black simply played the game in front of them. They played with confidence and attacking zeal, linked well, transferred well, held possession and slowly began to turn the screws on Canterbury who began to loo a bit…well ordinary. Hats off to Matt Anderson and Guilio Ferrini both of who helped control the middle of the pitch throughout.
The stats bear this out. Gate has 63% possession and forced 38 turnovers over the 4 quarters. Sam Weissen, Claude (Christy Walkin) and Iain Gordon easily found their way out of the Canterbury press and Johnny Maunder had his best game in weeks dominating the midfield with strong support from Giles Woodland and Barney Collier.
Gate forced a couple of penalty corners which were not converted and perhaps as they were cheered into the dressing rooms at the half time whistle felt like they should be on equal terms with the Canterbury league leaders.
Second half and the crowd upped the volume as once again ‘Gate showed their mettle. Matt Allister was having a blinder and dominating the front with John Sterlini looking deeply menacing as he outpaced his opposite numbers forcing a number of circle entries including one which he shipped onto his reverse and flung at top left corner only to be rudely denied by a superb save from none other than last years SHC goalkeeper RADAR- who by this point was keeping his team in it.
Rob Gill deserves a mention for playing to the crowd and giving a fantastic performance of gritty determination – Rob has made himself a central tenet to this M1 squad this year and his confidence on the ball and work ethic has been great to watch as he began deploying his 3D skills and left wing charges with grace and bare faced cheek.
Rob Schilling, Charles Hamilton and Harry Haynes showcased their skills & pace to good effect in the second half and by the second quarter Harry found himself eye balling Radar in the Canterbury goal. He cooly dragged the ball back and flicked it hard beating the Canterbury keeper, the crowd held their breath and then gasped in unison as the ball collided hard with the goal frame and clattered back into the D. It was a whisker away from 1-1.
Gate fought hard and by the final whistle had won 6 PC’s to Canterbury’s 2- both of which well saved by Savas. Yet we just couldn’t get the ball past the trailing arms, legs and stick of Radar.
The game ended 1-0 to Canterbury despite Southgate’s excellent performance and dominance. Lots of positives and if the team can continue to play in this style the results will surely follow, the disappointment being once again the team really deserved at least 1 if not 3 points from the game.
The team now sit 4th from bottom in a crowded middle table but not safe from relegation. This weekend is a big game against bottom table Havant- yet Havant away is a banana skin fixture- just ask Maunder- and they recently beat top table Reading 1-0 away. Yet if the boys play with the same intensity, intent and commitment the goals and points will surely follow.