Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division – 9 March 2019
SURBITON 2–0 CANTERBURY
Scorers: Alice Sharp 40-F, Georgie Twigg 68-PC
Squad: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Giselle Ansley, Sarah Evans, Georgie Twigg (Capt,), Holly Payne, Emily Atkinson, Susie Catlin, Jenna Woolven, Alice Sharp, Izzy Petter, Michaela Curtis.
Subs: Hannah Martin (6 mins), Emily Defroand (8), Olivia Chilton (9), Darcy Bourne (11), Ella Burnley (14).
Umpires: Helen Sargeant and Clare White
Match Official: Ray Strudwick
Surbiton Ladies closed to within one point of leaders Holcombe after battling to a 2-0 home win over Canterbury and Holcombe were denied a win at Bowdon Hightown with the hosts scoring an equaliser in the final minute.
The defeat leaves Canterbury on the brink of automatic relegation from the top flight having been in the Premier Division since the 1999-2000 season. They trail ninth placed Slough by seven points with just nine points available from the remaining three matches.
Canterbury came to Sugden Road without a win and they needed defender Grace Balsdon to intercept a Surbiton pass in the first minute to avoid going behind early. The visitors struggled to create chances with Sioned Fox in the right of the Surbiton 23 and Agustina Alvarez unable to get past Surbiton’s Ella Burnley. Elizabeth Jenkins came the closest forcing Surbiton keeper Sabbie Heesh to protect the goal by moving to her right.
Surbiton’s first real chance came in the 11th minute when Fox was unlucky to lose possession after making an interception but the ball found its way to Sarah Evans whose shot went past the left post.
Hannah Martin, another of Surbiton’s returning international players, caused problems for the Canterbury defence before Eugenia Bianchi intercepted, but the Canterbury goal survived after goalkeeper Helen Fagg saved from Jenna Woolven and a run by Evans saw Catlin shoot past the left post.
Surbiton also failed to convert from three first half penalty corners as they went in at half time goalless.
Woolven had scored within seconds of the second half at Buckingham a month earlier and went close to repeating the trick just 37 seconds after the restart, her shot whistling past the right post.
The deadlock was broken in the 40th minute, Alice Sharp making a short run down the left before firing the ball past Fagg and against the inside of the right sideboard to the delight of the home supporters and her teammates.
Woolven and Catlin had further attempts off target, Michaela Curtis showed great possession skills in the Canterbury circle and Darcy Bourne forced a fine save, but Surbiton struggled to add the second goal they really needed.
Eventually, it was Surbiton’s penalty corner routine which came to their rescue after Giselle Ansley had failed to beat Fagg. With two minutes, patience led to Georgie Twigg finishing off Surbiton’s sixth penalty corner of the match and also Canterbury’s chances of at least salvaging a point.
Holcombe were heading for a 1-0 win at Bowdon Hightown, but Megan Batchelor scored in the final seconds for Bowdon to enable Surbiton to close the gap to one point with three games remaining. East Grinstead remain three points behind Surbiton following their 3-1 home win over the University of Birmingham.
Buckingham’s 2-1 win at Beeston enabled them to move back into the playoff places, replacing Clifton Robinsons in fourth after the Bristol based club lost 2-0 at Slough. Slough’s victory leaves them just one point behind the University of Birmingham in their battle to avoid playing in the Promotion Tournament.
Surbiton travel to Clifton Robinsons next Saturday (16 March) push back 1 pm. A win or a draw will confirm Surbiton’s place in the playoffs.