Southgate Men banish the blues ’n rain and send out the sunshine with 3-0 win over Havant.

Match Report : Alastair Whatley

Result : Southgate 3 – 0 Havant

By 14:30 the rain had set in, the balcony a throng of Southgate supporters shrouded in hats and scarves huddled against the windows in search of shelter, as on the pitch the men in red and black prepared to push back searching for a win to kick start the season.

Havant have yet to accrue any points this season and alas Southgate were sat just one position above them at the foot of the table. As mentioned last week some of these results just saw us fail in the final moments, or give up too much ground to the Oppo’s in the first quarter. Close games which didn’t fall our way. Yet there was no denying that the loss to Canterbury last week had served the team a hard lesson last week, possibly a wake up call to prevent the season sliding away.

Southgate v Havant – England Hockey MHL Div 1 South at Southgate Hockey Centre, Trent Park, London, UK on 31 October 2021.Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

So to the game and the first quarter immediately saw Southgate impose themselves on the game. Immediately distribution out from the back worked well led by Tom Barrett and Thaddeus Rivett who found holes in Havant’s press and pressure began raining down on the Havant ’22. Jonny Maunder cheered the Southgate throng with a sting of turnovers leading to attacks deep into the Havant back line.

It was great to see Guilio Ferrini back with the team after his International duty for Italy and the crowd enjoyed some free flowing hockey with the ball fizzing from stick to stick as the team began growing in confidence. It took until the 22nd minute for Charles Hamilton to show off his muscle twitch fibres and with customary speed shoot down the left wing and onto the baseline past sticks and flailing Havant limbs putting a ball directly onto the advancing stick of Matt Anderson who shot the ball past Leo Micklem in goal for Havant. 1-0 and the balcony roared its approval as the end of the first quarter closed in.

The second quarter saw the team continue to turnover the Havant ball with a press that our oppo never really found a release from. Captain John Sterlini was the next man into the fray with a run from the left halfway line past a string of Havant players and getting himself all the way to a shooting opportunity when he was fouled drawing Gate’s first penalty corner of the game. Alas not converted this time, but chances were surely coming – Rob Schilling and Matt Alister both going close in he ensuing minutes.

With half time approaching, Havant began to find some momentum as they started asking some questions of our defence, questions this week that Iain Gordon, Adam Price, Tom Barratt, Christy Walkin and Thaddeus Rivett had swift answers for. Yet on the cusp of halftime a short was awarded to Havant, the sun came out and the spectators all crept into the autumnal sunlight with breath baited. The ball released fast to the Havant man at the top castle and shot a ball hard at goalkeeper Ollie Wickens who cleared it but it came in hard again in a melee of sticks, players with only some determined defence knocking the ball up field as the half time whistle fell. Southgate a goal up but perhaps rueing not having another 2 on the scoresheet.

The game’s third quarter was perhaps our best with Southgate entirely dominant and the crowd on the balcony in full voice- minute 38 saw a penalty corner awarded to Southgate, it rebounded but fell to Jonny Maunder who fashioned it against the backboard and put ‘Gate 2-0 to the good.

The pressure built with old guard John Sterlini licking up well with new signing Giles Woodland down the right channel, Owen Evan-Evans another new signing also seemed to be everywhere at times and always in the thick of the action. Then as the third quarter sang its last tune to the new minted blue skies above Trent Park, the ball fell to the top of the D to who else but our number 24 Sim Bird who clinically and with some degree of flair collared the ball past the Havant goalie and with the score at 3-0 2Southgate looked set fair for victory.

Credit to Havant they kept on pushing, but in honesty the Southgate Men looked a different class and saw the game out with clinical control and the subtest shimmer of the swagger of old. No more goals from either side, a few shorts, a great save from Ollie Wickens giving him a well deserved clean sheet but come the final whistle the 3 points were all to the ‘Gate and with them so banished any memories of the previous week.

Next week the team face top of the table Reading who have been in rampant form this season. We can expect a tough game and a big test for the boys who are now looking to kick on and take the momentum of the weekend with them as they work their way back up the table. Congratulations to the team on a solid result and thanks to all who came down to support the team.

Be sure to get down to the club for a 18:30 Saturday night box office game under the lights. It is sure to be firecracker, bobby dazzler of a game.