M1 Visit Hampstead On Saturday Evening
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men travel to Paddington Recreation Ground to take on Hampstead & Westminster in the second game of a Men's/ Women's doubleheader on Saturday (push back 6 pm).
Hampstead are fifth in the Men's Hockey League Premier Division, six points behind Surbiton and will want to close the gap with a win.
The situation in the Premier Division will be more apparent after this week's fixtures as Old Georgians and Wimbledon, both currently three points behind Surbiton with a game in hand, meet on Saturday night at St. George's College for their catch-up fixture before Old Georgians face the University of Exeter on Sunday, when Wimbledon host Oxted.
Hampstead made a bad start to their 2022-23 season, starting off with two defeats: 4-2 at home to Wimbledon and 3-1 at Holcombe, but since then have won four out of five games, only dropping points in a 2-2 draw at Old Georgians a fortnight ago.
Two convincing home wins over Beeston (6-1) and Brooklands Manchester University (7-1) were complemented with a 3-1 victory at East Grinstead and a battling 4-3 win at the University of Exeter have helped them steady their position.
Hampstead have plenty of attacking potential with eleven players having scored a least once for the Central London club.
Sam French has scored six goals with Stephen Kelly on four. Will Calnan and penalty corner specialist Matt Guise-Brown have contributed three apiece with Kei Kaeppeler and Josh Kelly scoring twice. Hywel Jones, Noah Jones, Jolyon Morgan, James Oates and Rupert Shipperley have all scored once.
Historically, Surbiton have done very well away to Hampstead, winning 12 of 20 top flight encounters with Hampstead winning three and five drawn games with two of the draws ending at 4-4.
Hampstead last beat Surbiton at home in March 2018 in a 5-4 thriller which saw Surbiton concede three goals in the last three minutes. Surbiton seemed to be cruising to a 4-2 win, having come from behind after Kwan Browne scored from the penalty spot in the 12th minute. Luke Taylor levelled from an 18th minute penalty corner, Chris Grassick put Surbiton ahead eight minutes later with Guise Brown equalising before half time.
Two goals from Alan Forsyth in the 48th and 53rd minutes put Surbiton in control at 4-2 but Browne converted a second penalty corner in the 68th minute, Guise Brown levelled a minute later and then converted a last minute penalty corner to give Hampstead a stunning win.
Surbiton won 4-2 in April, the teams did not meet in 2020-21 and a 1-1 draw in February 2020 was preceded by a 2-0 win in March 2019.
Hampstead's other two wins came consecutively in December 2011 (2-1) and November 2010 (3-1) but generally Surbiton have had the upper hand historically with a 5-2 win in September 2009 and a 5-1 victory way back in February 2003.
The teams' first National League meeting was in March 1998 when Greg Clark and Mark Owen gave Surbiton a 2-0 win at Hampstead in Division One (Tier 2) after Hampstead had won the South League a season earlier and Surbiton had been relegated from the Premier Division. Surbiton missed out on an immediate return, finishing third behind Bournville and Brooklands in a 22 team division which saw the teams play a 21 game campaign.
Saturday's other game sees Beeston Men travel across the Nottingham Hockey Centre car park from Pitch 1 to Pitch 4 to play the University of Nottingham.
On Sunday, Brooklands Manchester University travel to Holcombe and Reading are at home to East Grinstead in the second game of another men's/ women's double header at Sonning Lane.