Southgate M1’s made out two wins from two on Saturday under the lights at Trent Park against old rivals Teddington. Hints have been made that this years new Southgate Squad were looking dangerous, it could be seen on show at the Y1 tournament in the summer, at home to Durham in pre season and away at Holcombe and Oxted just a few weeks ago; you may have read about the demolition of Brighton at Blatchington Mill School last weekend, yet there is nothing quite like seeing a team cohere and unite together in front of a Southgate balcony especially for the first home game of the season.
Although missing international Jose Hurtado away playing for Chile, Kwan was able to call on Southgate legend and club top scorer of 2021/2022 Drew Burkin much to the delight of the Southgate balcony and Sam Weissen also away was replaced by Southgate stalwart and fellow legend Thaddeus Rivett back in his number 18 shirt after a few weeks away with an injury. In short it was a fine body of men wearing the red and black who ran out to the sonorous Thunderstruck blaring out from the PA in the dulcet afterglow of a super Saturday Southgate September afternoon.
Kwan’s team play an intense and crowd pleasing style of hockey, the first quarter often seeing a bombardment of well placed arterial aerials raining like perfectly placed cannonballs onto the opposition flanks, these are picked up with the grace of Grace Kelly and danced double step into the D for our forward line to dart arrow like balls at the opposing keeper, in this case George Oyebode between the Teddington sticks who admirably withstood the opening barrage keeping the scores 0-0.
Yet to the grudging admiration and audible groan of the (Southgate) crowd, Robbie Shepherdson brother to M2’s new recruit Will (himself watching sheepishly on the sidelines) picked up a ball on the 23 and drove central and then right from a fast released 16 play, Shepherdson beat his men and fired in a well placed shot to the left post defeating Ollie Wickens and sending the visitors 1-0 up in the 12th minute.
That goal deserves its own paragraph, not just because of it’s class and clinical finish but also because from here-on in, the Southgate men ramped it up another notch, held on tight and didn’t let go until the final whistle some 48 breathless minutes later. At the stroke of quarter time Dan West forced a goal through the keeper in a beautifully worked example of attacking hockey, freewheeling his way onto the ball and sending it hard against Oyebode’s goal line and clattering it into the back board to the nostalgic roar of the long vowelled and guttural ‘Goalll’ chanted with musical indifference from the balcony. 1-1 at end of Q1.
The game then saw Gate continue to exert pressure, pressing well and distributing superbly through Kwan and Robbie at centre back with John Sterling and Guilino Ferrini in the screens and moving it onwards and up field both enjoying their best game of the admittedly nascent season. Yet despite some chances the score stubbornly refused to tilt in Southgate’s direction and the crowd sloped off for the half time cheese and port (our thanks to past-president Adrian Scott-Knight for generously providing) with the feeling that the best might still be yet to come.
And so dully fortified it proved to be. Matt Ramshaw scoring his debut league goal in the 35th minute from open play with a strikers instinct that got the home crowd in fine voice for the remainder of the game. 2-1. Ollie Wickens not to be outdone produced an awesome save at the other end to keep the Gate lead, but hero of Brighton and legend of changing room 5 Teague Marcano then stepped up top D to show the crowd what we’ve been missing as he binned a drag flick with a nonchalant drop of the shoulder and fiery finish past a helpless Oyebode. 3-1 and the balcony was buzzing. End of Q3 3-1.
Quarter 4 was a bit of a masterclass in controlling a game, whilst still entertaining like Dolly Parton on a vegas night out. Rob Gill’s composure and step is increasingly a thing to behold, he seems always ahead of the game and outwitted his opposite numbers on numerous occasions ultimately earning him the days MVP nomination from the crowd, meanwhile Karan Sofat continued to impress as an attacking midfield threat driving offensive manoeuvres and proving a persistent menace to the Teddington defensive lines. Early in Q4 Teague scored his 7th of the season from another PC and back at the other end John Sterling made a stunning goal line clearance before some minutes later Ramshaw powered home our third goal from a PC and his second of the night to make it 5-1 in time for the final whistle.
Mention need also be made of Charles Hamilton who showcased his strength and speed and continual threat in the D not to mention Simon Walker narrowly missing a 1-1 stunner and Rob Schilling one of those precision players who provides the bass noted engine that keeps the machinery up top roaring. Finally mention to Drew Burkin who delighted his family and fans with a drag flick that might or might not have ended up in the car park.
But let nothing dissuade from the complete team performance of a side that already looks unstoppable when able to consistently link passages of play as they did on Saturday night. The road to promotion remains long and challenging and there will be bumps ahead, yet we couldn’t have hoped for a better showcase of this newly minted Kwan-Ball Southgate hockey and so we doff our collective hats to him, Huw, Simon and the team for entertaining us royally on a beautiful night for the boys in red and black.