Southgate put on a show but Holcombe find the edge

Premier Division National League match report
Southgate M1
by Alastair Whatley

0-3 Loss vs Holcombe M1

Holcombe arrived undermanned to Trent Park on Saturday night but even with 13 men managed to prevail thanks in part to heroics from GB’s Ollie Payne in the Holcombe goal.

Southgate came off 2-6 the poorer in the first clash in the autumn as Holcombe helped by international players Roper and Bandruak punished the home side with their clinical counter attacking. The return fixture was more measured yet through trenchant defendending and smart keeping Holcombe managed to nullify the Southgate attacking firepower.

In the 10th minute Calnan brought down a Sterlini aerial ball just outside the D firing it in for a Ramshaw deflection somehow kept out by Payne which was scooped up by Lum and sent back to Ramshaw whose second shot saved again in a remarkable sequence. The end of Q1 ended honours even at 0-0 but soon Holcombe found their feet and after some sustained pressure won a PC which was well kept out by Browne on the post yet the corner came in hard and found Gill’s foot the ball bouncing off to Pendle the Holcombe number 12 who parried the ball on not van Loggerenberg’s pads for a beat save yet the ball fell unkindly and Pendle was able to nutmeg the ball through on his reverse for the first goal of the age in the 25th minute.

Holcombe’s Ollie Payne saves a penalty corner. Southgate v Holcombe – MHL Premier Division at Southgate Hockey Centre, Trent Park, London, UK on 09 March 2024.
Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Southgate replied with a corner won in the 31st minute which Ramshaw fired hard at Payne who somehow kept the ball out on the line with Middleton coming in hard from the injection just unable to convert the deflected ball into the ball. This followed a remarkable sequence when Southgate pressure led to a corner in the final seconds of the half, the ball went to the right castle with Ramshaw slightly misjudging the pick up driving through the runners before pushing the ball at Payne who again found Middleton who shot, found Payne, shot again, still somehow Payne who parried the ball high and to his left as more Southgate stick urgently pressed at the ball aloft in the night sky before Barry Middleton somehow just pipped the ball off the outreached stick of Hamilton at the far post. Somehow Holcombe held on to go in at half time 0-1 to the good.

Southagte came out hard in the 3rd quarter Foster sending in a superb cross D ball for Ramshaw to deflect it at goal, once again picked up by Payne. Minutes later at the other end Louis Du Prez who nearly signed for the home side in August proved his class with a great surging run into the D firing off a ball fast and high rocketing to the left corner met by a superb reflect save from van Loggerenberg to keep the margin at one goal. The South African International keeper was back in the thick of it just 2 minutes later with yet another fine reflex save from a Holcombe PC sending the ball high over the fence into the car park behind. Yet in the 44th minute it was Tim Guise Brown who got himself on the scoresheet as he sent a flick high and left eluding runner and keeper and stemming the Southgate fight back.

Southgate v Holcombe – MHL Premier Division at Southgate Hockey Centre, Trent Park, London, UK on 09 March 2024.
Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

That fight back was all but snuffed out just 2 minutes later when Louis Duprez managed to get a touch on a superb ball played in through a throng of Southgate players by Greg Nolan and with that Holcombe managed to dictate terms despite the clear man advantage. Yet Southgate kept pushing, another PC this time taken by Marcano was again fended away by Payne the ball bouncing back to the stick of Bhuhi who on his reverse fired a ball high on goal which was tipped over the bar by the Holcombe keeper. To the assembled throng of Southgate supporters it started to feel like the night was against them and this belief was surely reinforced when at the full time whistle Calnan’s flick was batted away in a perfect backward pull shot by Middleton on the left post.

Southgate quarter time team talk. Southgate v Holcombe – MHL Premier Division at Southgate Hockey Centre, Trent Park, London, UK on 09 March 2024.
Photo by Simon Parker/SP Action Images

Holcombe were deserving winners and credit to their 13 men who put in a strong effort, yet Southgate created plenty of chances and perhaps a different day would have yielded a different result. Yet both sides would perhaps also admit that in the context of the league the game served as affectively a dead rubber ahead of the crucial games of the following weekend. Much to take away for Browne and assistant coaches Stevens and Gilkes as they prepare for a crucial show down with Wimbledon on Saturday evening.