Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division – 7 October 2017
SURBITON 1–0 LEICESTER
Scorer: Jo Hunter 39-F
Squad:Grace Lawes (GK); Giselle Ansley, Sarah Haycroft (Capt.), Georgie Twigg, Jo Hunter, Hannah Martin, Emily Atkinson, Beckie Middleton, Izzy Petter, Robyn Collins, Ella Burnley.
Subs: Sarah Page 7″, Stephanie Addison 9″, Natalie Maclean 12″, Alice Sharp 12″, Darcy Bourne 14″
Umpires: Frances Block and David Howell
Match Official: Jo Pennycook
Surbiton Ladies stayed top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division table on goals scored, but needed to remain patient before clinching a 1-0 win over a tactically aware Leicester squad on Saturday afternoon.
Surbiton are ahead of Slough in second place, with both teams opening up a two point gap over third placed Holcombe.
On a dark day under the Sugden Road floodlights both teams struggled to find their rhythm, cancelling each other out as Leicester tried to frustrate the league leaders on their own pitch.
Emily Atkinson and Izzy Petter both proved to be early attacking threats, whilst Beckie Middleton combined with Stephanie Addison.
On the quarter hour, Darcy Bourne found Jo Hunter in the circle, Hunter falling to the ground with play allowed to continue.
Although Surbiton managed to penetrate the Leicester circle, their forwards found the visiting defence hard to crack, having to rebuild attacks from the 23 metre line, although Bourne forced goalkeeper Caitlin Jeffries to save a cross/ shot from the left of the circle.
Surbiton’s penalty corner routine also failed to produce a breakthrough, Giselle Ansley’s drag-flick from Surbiton’s third award stopped by Leicester captain, Lucy Briscoe’s stick.
Sarah Page’s shot was blocked after good attacking play from Middleton as Surbiton headed for their half time team talk with the game still goalless.
Having been frustrated for the whole of the first half, Surbiton only had to wait until four minutes into the second half for the breakthrough which led to the only goal of the game. Hunter struck against her former club, although there were a couple of anxious moments as Leicester challenged the decision, but the goal ultimately stood.
One goal up, Surbiton were suddenly able to increase their attacking capability, Leicester’s penalty corner defence again thwarting Ansley, this time, Nikki Laybourne’s stick preventing the hosts doubling their lead.
Page was frustrated after pulling the ball back across the circle only for no Surbiton forward to be in the ball’s path.
Atkinson; Martin, who once more showed her dribbling skills; Georgie Twigg and Hunter all forced second half saves from Jeffries.
With Leicester always in danger of potentially snatching a late equaliser, Martin and Page both kept possession of the ball in the attacking corners of the pitch to run down the clock.
The final whistle ensured that Surbiton goalkeeper, Grace Lawes kept her first clean sheet of the season and Surbiton kept their first Premier Division clean sheet since last season’s visit to Reading, a match which also resulted in a 1-0 victory.
Slough kept up the pressure with a 1-0 home win over Canterbury, whilst Holcombe, one of three teams with identical records at the start of the day, dropped two points in a goalless draw at Buckingham.
Bowdon Hightown lost even more ground, going down 2-0 to East Grinstead, who scored their first league goals of the season. Clifton Robinsons host the University of Birmingham on Sunday.
Surbiton travel to the University of Birmingham next Saturday (14 October) where the push back time has been changed to 2.15 pm.