Men’s Hockey League Premier Division – 11 March 2018
HAMPSTEAD & WESTMINSTER 5–4 SURBITON
Scorers: Luke Taylor 18-PC, Chris Grassick 26-F, Alan Forsyth 48-PC, 53-F
Squad: Luke Taylor, Lewis Prosser, Chris Grassick (Capt.), Arjan Drayton-Chana, Willie Marshall, Zach Wallace, Gareth Furlong, Alan Forsyth, Sam Spencer, Nick Parkes, Taylor Seager-Green (GK).
Subs: Adam Buckle (8″), Scott Evans (9″), Dave Bartram (11″), Conor Williamson (11″).
Sub not used: Jonny Gall.
Umpires: Bruce Bale and Martin Twist.
Match Official: David Collier.
Surbiton Men were knocked off the top of the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division after Hampstead & Westminster, desperate for points to keep their hopes of finishing in the top four alive, came from 4-2 down with three minutes to play to win 5-4 after scoring three goals in the final two minutes.
Although on the bench, Jonny Gall was unable to play due to a hand injury sustained the previous day in the 3-1 defeat at Reading and to add to Surbiton’s injury woes, Lewis Prosser walked off the Paddington Recreation Ground pitch with his arm in a sling.
Surbiton included Scott Evans in their squad for a fixture that they won 4-3 last season and this season was destined to be a true nine goal thriller.
With both teams initially testing each other out, the deadlock was broken in the twelfth minute when Kwan Browne put Hampstead in front from the penalty spot. Browne placed the ball perfectly into the top left corner beyond Taylor Seager-Green.
Hampstead’s lead lasted for just six minutes before Luke Taylor’s drag-flick into the left corner from the visitors’ second penalty corner brought Surbiton level.
Chris Grassick gave Surbiton the lead in the 26th minute with a brilliant individual goal, beating Hampstead goalkeeper Jamie Legg to finish off a threatening run towards goal.
Within two minutes, Hampstead were back on terms, their top goalscorer, Matt Guise Brown drag-flicking the ball into the top left corner from Hampstead’s second penalty corner to leave all to play for in the second half.
Alan Forsyth had been unlucky with a couple of shots which went narrowly past the post, but two goals in a five minute spell seemingly put the league leaders in control with a 4-2 lead. The first goal in the 48th minute came from Surbiton’s third penalty corner, Legg saving Gareth Furlong’s effort, only for Forsyth to put away the rebound from the left of the circle.
In the 53rd minute, Forsyth was clinical from open play with his 22nd goal of the season with Surbiton heading to victory.
The game seemed to turn when Surbiton were reduced to ten players with three minutes to play, Forsyth shown a green card when trying to intercept a Hampstead free hit too early. In the 68th minute, Browne reduced the deficit from the penalty spot, placing the ball in the top left corner for a second time.
A minute later, Guise Brown levelled from open play and then when it seemed that the game was destined to end 4-4, Guise Brown struck again from Hampstead’s ninth penalty corner to clinch a stunning victory celebrated by home players and supporters alike. The goal took Guise Brown’s tally to 14 goals for the season.
The win ended a run of eleven MHL Premier Division matches since Hampstead had last beaten Surbiton in December 2011 when Sam Dixon’s brace helped Hampstead to a 2-1 win at Paddington Recreation Ground. Fergus Dunn was Surbiton’s scorer. Since then, Surbiton had won nine and drawn two of the last eleven meetings.
Beeston moved two points ahead of Surbiton with a game in hand thanks to their 3-1 home win over Sevenoaks, who are now destined to battle with Kent rivals, Canterbury for the automatic relegation and Promotion Tournament spots after Brooklands Manchester University beat Canterbury 6-0 at home.
Reading and Wimbledon could both overtake Surbiton if they win their games in hand. Reading won 7-3 at East Grinstead and Wimbledon ended Holcombe’s hopes of a top four finish with a 1-0 win in Kent. Hampstead are still four points adrift of fourth place in spite of their victory.
Surbiton host East Grinstead next Saturday at 6 pm. The West Sussex club are all but eliminated from top four contention as they would need to overtake either Reading or Wimbledon and Reading meet Wimbledon on the last day of the season in South West London.