M1 At Home To Reading On Saturday Evening
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men welcome Reading to Sugden Road for the first time since November 2019 on Saturday evening (push back 6 pm).
Reading have been in Division One South for the last couple of seasons following their relegation from the Men's Hockey League Premier Division in 2019-20, but are back in the top flight after pipping Canterbury to promotion last season.
Reading's relegation season started in disastrous fashion with a 10-1 home defeat by Surbiton on the opening evening and on their last visit to Surbiton, they lost 4-0.
The fixture has a long history, almost as long as the national league itself, Surbiton meeting Reading for the first time in the league's fourth season - 1991-1992 in the then Division Two. Surbiton won promotion to Division One, the top flight at the time before the teams missed each other with Surbiton being relegated back to Division Two while Reading were promoted to Division One in 1992-93.
The teams met in the Premier Division for the first time in 1994-95 and over the years there have been some entertaining games with Surbiton winning 6-4 in 2003; 5-4 in 2015 and 5-3 in 2017.
Reading last won at Sugden Road in March 2012 in another thriller, Surbiton losing 4-3 with Richard Mantell scoring twice for the visitors and James Ashcroft replying for Surbiton.
There have also been a sprinkling of draws, the most recent in October 2016 when current Surbiton player Ben Boon was on target for Reading in a 2-2 draw. There has been one goalless draw at Sugden Road in February 2007.
Nine months later in November 2007, Reading couldn't stop scoring as they stormed to a 6-1 win, Andy Watts netting a hat-trick, Austin Smith scoring twice and Simon Lanyon also on target for the Berkshire club, Hugh Wilson scoring Surbiton's consolation goal.
This season, Reading got off to a winning start, beating Brooklands Manchester University 4-2 at home before going down 2-1 at Beeston. On their return to Nottingham the following week, they won 3-1 at the University of Nottingham but have lost their last two games, 5-4 at home to Holcombe and 1-0 at home to Wimbledon.
Reading's cause has not been helped by leading goalscorer, Fred Newbold's selection for the GB squad at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia. Before his departure, Newbold had scored five goals, supported by Harry Skinner with three. Tom Minall has scored twice with Montgomery Neave and Daniel Cox each scoring once.
Meanwhile, after being held to a 2-2 draw at Holcombe in their first match, Surbiton have won the last four games 6-0 and 5-1 at home to East Grinstead and Oxted respectively, then coming back from two long trips to opposite ends of the country with all three points, although the 4-3 win at Brooklands was harder than they expected, followed by a 4-0 victory at the University of Exeter.
Old Georgians and Wimbledon are a point behind Surbiton with a game in hand due to their exploits in the Euro Hockey League.
Old Georgians are at home to Hampstead & Westminster on Saturday evening and Wimbledon host Beeston on Sunday afternoon.
East Grinstead are at home to Holcombe on Saturday evening as are the University of Nottingham against the University of Exeter, with Sunday's other fixture seeing Oxted make the long trip to Brooklands Manchester University.