Men’s Hockey League Premier Division – 16 March 2018

SURBITON 51 EAST GRINSTEAD

Scorers: Alan Forsyth 40-PS, 64-F, 66-F, 68-F; Luke Taylor 51-PC
Squad: Luke Taylor, Luke Noblett, Chris Grassick (Capt.), Arjan Drayton-Chana, Willie Marshall, Zach Wallace, Gareth Furlong, Alan Forsyth, Nick Parkes, Taylor Seager-Green (GK), Scott Evans.

Subs: Conor Williamson (6″), Dave Bartram (6″), Adam Buckle (9″), Rob Farrington (9″).  Sub not used: Jonny Gall.

Umpires: Mark Everard and Nick Padget

Match Official: Jo Pennycook

Surbiton Men all but booked their place in the end of season Men’s Hockey League Championships after coming from 1-0 down at half time to beat East Grinstead 5-1 on Friday night at Sugden Road.

Only Hampstead and Westminster can prevent Surbiton from defending their league title at Lee Valley. Hampstead trail Surbiton by nine points with three games to play, so will need to win all three games and overcome a ten worse goal difference than Surbiton, whilst hoping Surbiton lose at Beeston on the final day of the season. Hampstead are at home to Beeston on Saturday, visit Sevenoaks on Sunday and travel to Canterbury next weekend.

East Grinstead saw their hopes of a top four finish finally extinguished by their defeat, but looked like the team that needed the points to qualify as they took the game to Surbiton from the start. They didn’t look like a team which had lost 5-2 to Beeston, 4-1 at Wimbledon and 7-3 against Reading in their last three games, attacking and then defending well with Scott Evans, Conor Williamson and Adam Buckle all posing attacking threats in the first half.

East Grinstead took the lead in the 20th minute, Ross Stott rewarding the visitors for their endeavours. Taylor Seager-Green saved well from East Grinstead’s only penalty corner of the half. Surbiton thought they had been awarded a penalty corner in the 31st minute but after the umpires consulted, the award was nullified. Arjan Drayton Chana and Willie Marshall both forced saves from East Grinstead goalkeeper, Ollie Thilo late in the first half, but East Grinstead led 1-0 at the interval.

Surbiton only needed five minutes after the half time break to draw level, Alan Forsyth beating Thilo from the penalty spot. In the 51st minute, Surbiton were awarded a penalty corner and took advantage, Luke Taylor’s clinical drag-flick giving Surbiton the lead for the first time.

Having battled for most of the match, East Grinstead’s defence was exposed three times in four minutes as Forsyth, having been frustrated earlier in the match, rediscovered his goalscoring form and proved to be deadly.

A reverse stick shot found its way into the far left corner in the 64th minute, Forsyth giving Surbiton a 3-1 lead to kill the game off. Two minutes later, Forsyth completed his hat-trick with a Scottish team goal. Nick Parkes crossed from the left, Chris Grassick’s shot rebounded off the crossbar, only for Forsyth to put the ball away.

A defiant finish from Forsyth with two minutes left gave Surbiton’s supporters, who were experiencing the rare sight of Friday night hockey more to celebrate as Surbiton completed the league double over East Grinstead, having won 3-2 at Saint Hill earlier in the season.

East Grinstead included former Surbiton player and Canadian international, Richard Hildreth in their starting line-up.

Surbiton will now wait to see how Hampstead fare over the weekend before travelling to Beeston on 25 March for their final match of the season. As per league rules, all games on the final day start at 2 pm.