Men’s Hockey League Premier Division – 25 Mar 2018

BEESTON 25 SURBITON

Scorers: Zach Wallace 8-F, Arjan Drayton-Chana 20-F, 67-F; Conor Williamson 43-F, Sam Spencer 59-F
Squad: Luke Taylor, Rob Farrington, Luke Noblett, Jonny Gall (Capt.), Arjan Drayton-Chana, Zach Wallace, Dave Bartram, Adam Buckle, Sam Spencer, Taylor Seager-Green (GK), Scott Evans.

Subs: Aaron Blumfield (7″), Conor Williamson (10″), Max Lowrey (19″).  Sub not used: Mark Haycroft.

Umpires: Lee Barron and Dave Dowdall.

Match Official: Christine O’Donovan

Surbiton Men overcame the odds to beat Beeston 5-2 at Nottingham Hockey Centre on Sunday afternoon and finish second in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division, a point behind Wimbledon. Wimbledon came from behind to beat Reading 2-1, Jonny Codling scoring the winning goal with four minutes remaining.

Beeston led the table at the start of play and would have finished top if they had won. However, Surbiton without their Commonwealth Games internationals, showed that their youth policy pays dividends as youngsters, Zach Wallace, Adam Buckle, Conor Williamson and goalkeeper Taylor Seager-Green were joined by debutant Max Lowrey, all playing their part in a stunning victory.

Surbiton took the game to Beeston with Wallace combining well with Sam Spencer in the first minute and Dave Bartram and Rob Farrington posing an attacking threat a minute later.

Seager-Green was on hand to make a fine save in the sixth minute as Beeston tried to break the deadlock.

But it was youth which made the breakthrough, Wallace running at the Beeston defence before perfectly placing the ball in the top left corner, just inside the left post, beyond Beeston goalkeeper Simon Hujwan in the eighth minute.

Surbiton doubled their lead in the 20th minute, Williamson participating in a fine one-two move with Arjan Drayton-Chana for Drayton-Chana to finish from open play.

Beeston responded five minutes before half time,Elliot Hibell smashing the ball against the backboard as the home supporters demanded a comeback.

It was a comeback which never happened, Surbiton restoring their two goal advantage in the 43rd minute, Willamson’s shot from the left of the circle finding its way into the goal.

Nevertheless, Beeston fought back, Hibell scoring his second goal of the game from Beeston’s third penalty corner to once again give the home supporters hope that Beeston could complete the comeback and finish top of the table.

Leading 3-2, Surbiton completed the win with two goals in the last eleven minutes. Sam Spencer’s emphatic shot, followed by an equally emphatic celebration in the 59th minute left Beeston trailing by two goals again before Drayton-Chana won a bully and finished off the subsequent attack to finally seal the 5-2 win with three minutes to play.

Sadly, it wasn’t enough to secure top spot as Wimbledon’s win at Reading gave them that honour and a play-off semi-final match up with London rivals Hampstead & Westminster, who followed up a 10-2 win at Sevenoaks on Saturday with a 5-3 win at Canterbury. Sevenoaks will defend their top flight status in the Promotion Tournament and Canterbury are automatically relegated.

Sevenoaks will meet the three Conference winners: Oxted (Conference East), the University of Nottingham (Conference North) and the University of Exeter (Conference West), with the top two playing in the Premier Division in 2018-19.

Surbiton will play Beeston in the other play-off semi-final at Lee Valley on 28 April.