M1 Face Double Header This Weekend
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men face an important double header weekend as they aim to maintain their position at the top of the Men's Hockey League Premier Division.
On Saturday afternoon, Surbiton host reigning champions Hampstead & Westminster at Sugden Road (push back 2.15 pm) and then on Sunday they make the short journey to Raynes Park High School to take on Wimbledon (push back 2.30 pm).
After last week's 4-3 thrilling win at Old Georgians, Surbiton lead Wimbledon by three points with a game in hand and lead Hampstead by six points having played the same number of games.
Surbiton were denied a league championship hat-trick by Hampstead at Lee Valley last season, but both teams have been playing catch up in the MHL after their exploits in the Euro Hockey League in Barcelona.
Hampstead began the defence of their league title with a 4-3 win at Beeston before losing by the same scoreline at home to Old Georgians in week two. A stunning 6-1 win at Holcombe and a 2-1 win at home to Brooklands Manchester University was followed by another 4-3 win at Reading.
Hampstead then lost 3-1 at home to Wimbledon in a match played at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre before coming away from the University of Exeter with all three points.
Hampstead's home form has been suspect, but they still boast a one hundred per cent record away from home, which Surbiton will be keen to end on Saturday.
There is likely to be a penalty corner battle as Surbiton's Luke Taylor with twelve goals this season comes up against Matt Guise-Brown, who has scored nine times for Hampstead this season from the set piece.
Sam French, Hywel Jones and former Surbiton player Rupert Shipperley have each scored twice for Hampstead with nine players having scored one goal each, showing that the Paddington Recreation Ground club have several scoring options.
Last season the fixture at Sugden Road ended in a 2-2 draw, Alan Forsyth putting Surbiton ahead in the fourth minute before Paul Melkert levelled in the eleventh minute. Tim Atkins restored Surbiton's lead in the 29th minute only for Shipperley to snatch a point with a 48th minute equaliser.
At Paddington Recreation Ground, Surbiton won 2-0, Forsyth and Zach Wallace scoring in the last 15 minutes.
Hampstead beat Surbiton 3-1 in the Championship final, Guise-Brown scoring twice with Sam French also scoring; Tom Sorsby scoring for Surbiton.
In the other match on Saturday night, East Grinstead are at home to Wimbledon.
A preview of the match at Wimbledon will be posted on Saturday night after the Hampstead match report is published, along with a list of Sunday's MHL Premier Division fixtures.