A record away crowd of over 50 hardened Southgate Ultra supporters gathered on the steps of the Old Loughts pitch on a warm Autumnal evening as the local derby roared to life in a game of two halves.
Kwan and his side have of late been riding a wave of free scoring abandon demolishing sides in a jamboree of clinical finishing. Loughts promised a sterner test as this newly promoted team under coach Lee Ible have excelled in the Division One South league and were sat chasing Gate’s tail in 2nd place as the match pushed back at 5:30pm as the skies darkened and the floodlights turned on.
It was business as usual though for Southgate through the opening exchanges as Kwan fed long balls into space leaving the forwards to drive hard at the Loughts defence. It seemed only a matter of time until the white and purple dam broke and so it proved when an inspired Matt Ramshaw drove through the right channel like a man possessed before polishing off with a fine flick into Barney Tedders’ Loughts goal. The Southgate ultras roared their approval as Ramshaw rose triumphantly into the Essex skies in celebration. 12 minutes in and the boys in Red and black were 1-0 up.
Just 4 minutes later our hot new Trinidadian striker Teague Marcano continued his goal scoring spree with a drag flick from a PC that broke down but was recovered thanks to John Sterlini’s quick thinking as Teague found a way to finish the ball and sent it hard to the right corner and in so doing sending Southgate 2-0 up and looking unassailable.
Moments later Teague was back in action powering down the right hand side onto the baseline before pulling it back to the Chilean dynamo Jose Hurtado who rammed home Teague’s fine offering and after 22 minutes we were 3-0 up and looking like we could exceed the 7 goals put past Oxford Hawks a few weeks back.
Yet the hockey Gods are fickle and seemed determined to rain on the Southgate Ultras good-time parade as slowly Loughts began working their way back into the game. Ollie Wickens started being called into action keeping some probing shots from Loughts attacker Harvey Edwards at bay. Loughts stemmed the Southgate flow but were unable to convert and we went into half time still looking strong and with the 3 points surely in the bag?
Yet the second half proved the sternest test of the season thus far. The lights on the Loughts pitch prevented a clear view of the action but in the 39th minute Euan Gilmore scored a rather good counter attacking goal which flew past Ollie Wickens in the Southgate sticks. Unperturbed the fired up Ramshaw delivered a zinger from a PC two minutes later in reply and it was 4-1 before the respective supporters could catch their breath. Yet more excitement followed as Loughts cheers began to resound from the sidelines as Harvey Edwards finally got himself on the scorecard and sent Loughts back into the contest with a goal making it 4-2 in the 42nd minute of play. 3 goals in less than 3 minutes.
The final quarter was not the finest hour of Southgate’s season, but defensively we were outstanding as attack after attack was repelled with everyone to a man working back to steel off the Loughts threat. They ramrod the right channel driving hard onto the baseline repeatedly, and repeatedly Southgate sent them back only for the Loughtonians to come again. Eventually something happened from a PC that Charles Hamilton and Rob Gill were unable to run down (a rare event) and lo a flick was awarded against us, Captain John Sterlini whispered a sweet nothing into Gate keeper Ollie Wickens’ ear and Ollie marched onto his line like a man possessed. Loughts stood tall preparing to go 3-4 up, but Wickens dove like De Gea hard and high to his right and parried the ball with the grace of Darcy Bustle away and to safety as Loughts reeled and Southgate cheered themselves hoarse as the score remained 2-4.
Despite being down to 10 men for the last 8 minutes the boys held strong as Loughts went all out to get back into the game. The final minutes saw a festivity of penalty corners all repelled until the exhausted crowd heard the final whistle and the entirety of Old Loughton rushed up to the circle where upon more corners were awarded -all met with the same defensive prowess (and perhaps some odd choices) until keen to allow the supporters to get to the bar Gate let Harvey Edwards finally conver his brace leaving the final score Southgate 4, Old Loughtonians 3.
The win leaves Southgate’s top by a small margin to Bath Buccaneers who travel up the M4 on Sunday to face a top 2 showdown down Snakes Lane. Make a bee line for the club house on Sunday at 14:30- cheer on the boys and lets make it 6 wins from 6.