Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division – 3 March 2018

SURBITON 12 HOLCOMBE

Scorer: Giselle Ansley 57-PS
Squad: Giselle Ansley, Georgie Twigg, Jo Hunter, Hannah Martin, Emily Atkinson, Emily Defroand, Beckie Middleton, Hollie Pearne-Webb, Holly Payne, Anabel Herzsprung, Ellie Shahbo (GK).

Subs: Sarah Haycroft (Capt.) (5″), Sarah Page (8″), Alice Sharp (12″), Olivia Chilton (19″).

Sub not used: Ella Burnley.

Umpires: David Howell and Lelia Sacré

Match Official: Thea Hitchcock.

Surbiton Ladies are under pressure in the IWHL Premier Division after Holcombe beat them for the first time in their history at Sugden Road on Saturday to move into second place and close the gap to a point behind the current league champions.

The University of Birmingham missed out on the opportunity to go to the top of the table on Sunday, going down 3-0 at East Grinstead. East Grinstead are now three points behind Surbiton in fourth with game in hand on the league leaders.

As a result of the arctic weather, only Surbiton’s two national league fixtures and Timperley’s IWHL Confrence North fixture against Beeston (which Beeston won 2-1) were left on Saturday’s schedule.

Sarah Haycroft came back into the squad after missing the previous week’s fixture at Clifton Robinsons and regained the Captain’s armband on her 100th National League appearance for Surbiton.

Thanks to wonderful work from Surbiton’s volunteers, the water-based pitch was declared playable on Saturday morning ready for the 4 pm push back.

Aiming to capitalise on Birmingham’s inactivity, Surbiton were stunned in the fifth minute when Sarah Jones finished off an attacking move to put Holcombe ahead.  Holcombe had Leah Wilikinson to thank for defending against Anabel Herzsprung after excellent attacking play from Beckie Middleton.

Holcombe goalkeeper, Rose Thomas saved well from Sarah Page and Georgie Twigg, but Surbiton’s real Achilles heel was their failure to convert penalty corners. Holcombe’s penalty corner defenders sprinted quickly to block and deflect shots with Joanne Westwood and Captain, Steph Elliott also frustrating Surbiton’s forwards in the first half.

Surbiton were lucky not to go in at half time two goals down after Jones’ shot struck the post shortly before the interval.

Nevertheless, Holcombe led 1-0 at half time, and again defended well in the second half. Surbiton’s penalty corner woes continued in the second half, failing to convert a further nine penalty corners trying a combination of manoeuvred routines and drag-flicks.

Although Surbiton had plenty of attacking intent, frequently the attacks broke down due to unforced errors, adding to the hosts’ frustration.

Surbiton fell further behind with fifteen minutes to play, Tanya Britz doubling Holcombe’s lead with a reverse stick finish to score her third goal of the season.

Ellie Watton failed to take advantage of a one on one attack against Ellie Shahbo, whilst Surbiton struggled to attain the high standards of quality play which has seen them dominate the IWHL Premier Division over recent years.

A lifeline was thrown to Surbiton in the 57th minute after a shot was stopped illegally on the line. Giselle Ansley stepped up to beat Thomas from the penalty spot with her sixth league goal of the season.

Surbiton couldn’t respond further, Holcombe holding on to the 2-1 lead to take another vital step towards the Championship playoffs.

Surbiton visit Slough next Saturday (push back 12.30 pm). Slough are due to visit Leicester on Sunday to play the fixture rearranged due to Slough’s European indoor hockey exploits in Prague.