Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division – 17 March 2018

SURBITON 31 EAST GRINSTEAD

Scorers: Emily Atkinson 6-PC, Giselle Ansley 29-PC, 70-PS.
Squad: Giselle Ansley, Sarah Haycroft (Capt.), Georgie Twigg, Hannah Martin, Emily Atkinson, Emily Defroand, Beckie Middleton, Hollie Pearne-Webb, Alice Sharp, Anabel Herzsprung, Ellie Shahbo (GK).

Subs: Jo Hunter (8″), Sarah Page (9″), Holly Payne (9″), Izzy Petter (14″), Ella Burnley (32″).

Umpires: Frances Block and Emma Shelbourn

Match Official: Jo Pennycook

Surbiton Ladies need one point from their final league match at Buckingham next Saturday to make absolutely sure of finishing top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division after beating East Grinstead 3-1 at Sugden Road on Saturday afternoon.

Holcombe and East Grinstead, their nearest rivals, both trail by six points with two games to play and will need to win both games and hope Surbiton slip up at Stowe School to have any chance of overtaking the reigning champions.

Holcombe’s game against Canterbury was postponed due to a snow covered Holcombe Park pitch on Saturday. East Grinstead are due to visit Canterbury on Sunday, weather permitting.

East Grinstead included former Surbiton players, Chloe Palmer and Amy Thompson in their squad and came to Elmbridge on the back of a three game winning streak, but fell behind in the sixth minute. Emily Atkinson finished off Surbiton’s first penalty corner of the match.

Both teams battled in bitterly cold conditions with occasional snow flurries under the Sugden Road floodlights, Beckie Middleton going close to doubling Surbiton’s lead in the seventh minute.

Atkinson and Hannah Martin played a brilliant one-two attack only for East Grinstead’s Maud van der Kamp to concede a restart from the 23 metre line to allow the visiting defence to regroup.

Middleton came close to haunting the East Grinstead with a run towards goal before forcing a save from Amy Tennant on the quarter-hour.

In spite of all their attacking intent, Surbiton were pegged back in the 17th minute, Bridget Blackwood equalising from open play to boost East Grinstead’s morale.

Surbiton were back ahead before half time, Giselle Ansley converting Surbiton’s third penalty corner, but not in trademark drag-flick style. Ansley’s tenth goal of the season came from a spectacular rebound shot into the net in the 29th minute.

Early in the second half, East Grinstead forced a couple of penalty corners, Surbiton goalkeeper, Ellie Shahbo saving well from the second to keep Surbiton’s lead intact.  Sarah Page, Izzy Petter, Sarah Haycroft and Holly Payne all posed attacking threats for Surbiton but East Grinstead successfully defended.

Both Surbiton and East Grinstead had chances to score from second half penalty corners but the clinching goal came from the penalty spot after the visitors’ Pip Chapman committed a foul in the circle. Ansley coolly converted her fifth penalty stroke of the season and eleventh goal in total for the season to ensure Surbiton won 3-1.

The win saw Surbiton beat East Grinstead at home in the league for the first time after the first two meetings ended in 1-1 draws.

Elsewhere, the University of Birmingham saw their chances of finishing top of the table mathematically ended after they wre held 2-2 at Leicester. The East Midlands club stayed bottom of the table and face a crunch clash at home to Clifton Robinsons on Sunday. A Leicester win would see the Bristol club drop to the bottom of the table after Buckingham won 4-3 at Clifton on Saturday.

Slough and Bowdon Hightown fought out a goalless draw, with Slough heading to Birmingham on Sunday and Bowdon Hightown visiting Buckingham.

As next Saturday is the scheduled final day of the season, all fixtures will start at 2 pm as per league regulations.