Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division – 16 March 2019
CLIFTON ROBINSONS 1–4 SURBITON
Scorers: Giselle Ansley 13-PC, 28-PC; Olivia Chilton 19-F, Georgie Twigg 53-F
Squad: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Georgie Twigg, Holly Payne, Emily Atkinson, Ella Burnley, Olivia Chilton, Susie Catlin, Alice Sharp, Izzy Petter, Robyn Collins, Michaela Curtis.
Subs: Sarah Evans (Capt.) (8 mins), Hannah Martin (10), Darcy Bourne (10), Emily Defroand (11), Giselle Ansley (12).
Umpires: Caroline Frye and Gill Lord
Match Official: Richard Hill
Surbiton Ladies kept up the pressure on Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division leaders, Holcombe with a 4-1 win at Clifton Robinsons after Holcombe won 2-0 at Buckingham to leave Surbiton still one point behind the Kent club.
The result not only keeps Surbiton’s hopes of finishing top of the table at the end of the regular season, but also keeps Clifton Robinsons in contention for a playoff place thanks to Buckingham’s defeat.
Both Surbiton and Clifton had to battle against strong winds at Coombe Dingle Sports Complex in Bristol, but it was Surbiton who dominated possession at the start of the match.
Izzy Petter linked up with Olivia Chilton only to be thwarted by former Surbiton player and current Clifton captain, Hannah Coulson and Alice Sharp worked with Susie Catlin, only to lose out to Natasha Marke-Jones.
Surbiton’s first real scoring chance came in the sixth minute when Michaela Curtis forced the ball wide of the left post from the right of the circle, but it was Surbiton’s penalty corner routine which led to them breaking the deadlock.
Giselle Ansley’s 13th minute drag-flick ended up in the goal netting to put Surbiton ahead. Seven minutes later, Georgie Twigg’s pass into the circle was tapped home by Chilton to double Surbiton’s lead.
In the 23rd minute, Surbiton’s defence seemed to lose concentration as the division’s leading goalscorer, Claire Thomas scored her fifteenth goal of the campaign to bring Clifton back into the game.
Seven minutes before half time, Ansley repeated her drag-flick magic to once more send the ball into Clifton’s goal netting beyond goalkeeper Sophie Trigg. to give Surbiton a comfortable 3-1 half time lead, missing out on the chance to complete her hat-trick as a drag-flick shot had ended up over the Clifton crossbar in the 17th minute.
Within 41 seconds of the start of the second half, Surbiton yet again forced a penalty corner, going on to force nine awards with Robyn Collins also having conversion opportunities on her return from injury. Curtis was denied from Surbiton’s ninth award thanks to Aileen Davis stopping the shot with a stick above her shoulder.
Some corners were awarded for physical fouls on Surbiton players, but the only goal of the second half came in the 53rd minute when Holly Payne found Twigg in the circle, a diagonal shot into the right sideboard extending Surbiton’s lead to 4-1 and enabling Twigg to become Surbiton’s leading league goalscorer for the season with six goals.
Clifton, desperate to improve their playoff chances, forced five penalty corners in as many minutes late in the game, but Surbiton held out forcing long corner restarts from the 23 to keep up their record of never having lost to Clifton since their first season in the Premier Division in 2012-13.
Third placed East Grinstead suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat at Canterbury to give the bottom club their first league win of the season. Canterbury will still need to win their last two games and hope other results go their way to avoid automatic relegation.
The race for the Promotion Tournament spot is now between Slough and the University of Birmingham as Slough drew 0-0 at home to Beeston to join Birmingham on 13 points but with an inferior goal difference. Slough visit Surbiton next Saturday (1 pm) and ended Beeston’s playoff hopes with the Nottingham club safe in the Premier Division unless they lose their remaining two matches and both Slough and Birmingham win their remaining matches which would leave all three teams on 19 points with goal difference deciding the final places.
Bowdon Hightown are safe after a 1-0 win at the University of Birmingham.