MATCH REPORT – PRE SEASON FRIENDLY
Match Report by Alastair Whatley
Oxted away has always been a competitive fixture, the Oxted bank which runs adjacent to the school pitch is often filled with vocal Oxted supporters keen to lend their opinions on the visiting side. Yet this last pre season game was to be played, for better or worse, at another school ground down the road in Caterham. A good old fashioned astro surface surrounded by a cage backing onto the school leisure centre made for a somewhat inauspicious venue for what proved to be a riveting game of hockey- the small crowd were in for a treat.
Oxted playing in marine red were promoted into the premiership last season and established themselves in the league finishing a respectable 7th last year under coach Nick Giles. In short despite it being a friendly pre season game it was all set to a real acid test for the squad cohering around new coaching team Kwan and Huw at the Southgate helm.
The first quarter began with Southgate out of the slips like a furtive greyhound forcing a penalty corner within the first minute- alas not converted. Yet Oxted were immediately on the back foot and struggling to keep up. A few moments later some superb play from our Chilean star Jose Hurtado forced another PC through a driving run down the left channel. This one came out to Matt Ramshaw top D whose flick was well saved by the Oxted keeper.
Oxted gradually came back into the quarter as the minutes ticked away and won a PC that went begging through a mis-trap at the top of the D. End of Q1 and it was stalemate at 0-0.
Q2 started with Southgate conceding another PC which was superbly run down by centre back Robbie Gill enjoying another great game. Moments later the play was at the other end with housemates Matt Ramshaw and Dan West synching up well creating a series of opportunities that ended up with a flick being awarded. Ramshaw stepped up, sent the keeper the wrong way but alas pushed the ball wide of the right post.
Given a life, Oxted again began looking dangerous sending a few testing balls into the D with pace and accuracy. One of these led to the 3rd Oxted PC well saved from a left slip hit by Ollie Wickens in the Gate goal. But just seconds later the ball was back in the D and found a Southgate foot. This time Oxted flicked it hard and right beating Ollie and pushing the game 1-0 to Oxted going into half time.
Q3 began with real intensity, yet with that some of the Southgate composure dropped off and with that came a series of Oxted turnovers and some dangerous attacks into Gate territory. Attempting to wrestle the game back Matt Ramshaw dug in and ran the ball hard and with pace into the Oxted D threatening the goal but was tipped over through a strong challenge by the Oxted centre back that led to some choice words on both sides. The ante upped, and the physicality kept coming with Oxted at the end of a green card (a yellow would follow in Q)4. Against the run of play Gate won a PC which Teague Marcano polished off low and left equalising which ignited the Southgate men as if prodded by some fiery aspirance. Seconds later Charles Hamilton found space on the right and drove into the D beating the defence and getting a shot away which hit the post with a resounding clatter only for Jose to tidy it up finding the backboard and sending us 2-1 at the of the quarter.
The final quarter was a spellbinding affair of end-to-end hockey which Southgate largely dominated. 3 clear chances went begging but the boys were dominant, winning the 50/50 balls and continuously finding space and frustrating an increasingly desperate Oxted attack. Nevertheless a rare counter against the run of play forced an Oxted PC which beat the Gate defensive lines and equalised with 5 minutes to play. In those dying minutes chances came at both ends in a thrilling finale which ultimately ended honours even at 2-2.
This draw against another premiership side away from home can only feed the confidence of this new look M1’s side. Built on a strong foundation of Southgate senior players including John Sterlini, Guilio Ferrini, Charles Hamilton, Rob Schilling and introducing a host of new signings including Matt Ramshaw, Dan West, Teague Marcano and Simon Walker the style of hockey it is creating is fast paced, intense and pulsating with an energy that is a joy to watch.
The season starts on Sunday with a fixture away at Brighton, who took away 3 points from us at home right at the end of last season. It’s time to set that record straight.