Investec Women’s HockeyLeague Premier Division – 2 March 2019
UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM 1–0 SURBITON
Squad: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Georgie Twigg (Capt). Holly Payne, Emily Atkinson, Ella Burnley, Olivia Chilton, Susie Catlin, Jenna Woolven, Alice Sharp, Izzy Petter, Michaela Curtis.
Subs: Darcy Bourne (8 mins), Hannah Denison (8), Emily Guckian (10), Peggy Winterborn (21).
Umpires: Caroline Frye and Emma Shelbourn
Match Official: Steve Kirby
Surbiton Ladies’ hopes of finishing top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division at the end of the regular season suffered a blow when they lost 1-0 at the University of Birmingham on Saturday afternoon. Holcombe, knocked off the top of the table following last week’s 2-0 defeat at Surbiton, returned to the top and opened up a three point lead with a 4-1 home win over Slough.
Surbiton started well with Emily Atkinson and Izzy Petter as early attacking threats and Michaela Curtis and Jenna Woolven also needing to be stopped by the Birmingham defence. Hannah Denison shot past the left post and Olivia Chilton just failed to take advantage of a Birmingham turnover by also firing wide as Surbiton took the game to the hosts.
Curtis fired wide and Petter’s shot was deflected over the backline following a cross by Atkinson as the Birmingham defence held firm.
Amy Costello was at the heart of the Birmingham defence and also posed a threat from penalty corners as well as having the ability to play a long pass out of defence to Lydia Macdonell, but the first half ended goalless.
The winning goal came in the 41st minute, Costello’s penalty corner shot finished off by Jo Turnbull past Surbiton goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh to give Birmingham only their second league win of the season.
In the second half, Birmingham’s tight marking resulted in several blocked shots for the visitors with Holly Payne probably having the best chance of the second half with a shot which was brilliantly glove saved over the crossbar by Katherine Somerville.
Birmingham stayed calm to play out the game and frustrate Surbiton by keeping their first clean sheet of the season, ironically having failed to score for the only time this season in the first meeting at Sugden Road, where Georgie Twigg scored the only goal with a penalty corner conversion.
Twigg played in spite of the eye injury sustained in the second half of last week’s match with Holcombe.
Birmingham extended their advantage over ninth placed Slough to four points as Holcombe gained revenge for their defeat earlier this season in Berkshire with their 4-1 win.
East Grinstead are also hot on Surbiton’s heels after their 5-0 win at Beeston closed the gap to three points. Clifton Robinsons and Buckingham are currently battling for fourth place after Clifton Robinsons won 2-1 at Bowdon Hightown and Buckingham overwhelmed Canterbury 6-2, a defeat which all but confirms that Canterbury will either be automatically relegated or try and preserve their top flight status in the Promotion Tournament.
To avoid automatic relegation, Canterbury will need to close a four point gap to Slough, but with four games left and Canterbury due to meet both Surbiton and Holcombe this season, Canterbury will have to find the wins that have eluded them so far this season.
Surbiton face Canterbury next Saturday (9 March) at 4 pm as part one of a doubleheader which also sees M1 face Brooklands Manchester University at 6 pm.