L1 Beat Buckingham 3-2
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies will go into next week's top of the table clash with Hampstead & Westminster with their five point lead intact after a 3-2 home win over Buckingham and Hampstead's 2-0 home win over Bowdon Hightown.
Before the match, Surbiton captain, Georgie Twigg was presented with a bouquet of flowers to commemorate playing over 100 national league matches for Surbiton.
A minute's silence was also held on Remembrance Weekend.
Erica Sanders and Hannah Martin were early threats for Surbiton, but the first real goalscoring chance came in the fourth minute when Surbiton were awarded their first penalty corner, only for Buckingham to clear and mount a breakaway attack.
Emily Guckian was unlucky to shoot past the right post after a run towards goal and a one-two move between Giselle Ansley and Susie Catlin was broken up by Buckingham's Megan Lewis-Williams as defences were on top in spite of both team's attacking efforts.
Buckingham attacked down the left wing thanks to Katrina Nicholson but Twigg was in perfect position to defend and start a counter attacking move for Surbiton.
The breakthrough finally came at the end of the first quarter, Guckian scoring her second goal of the season, finishing off Surbiton's fourth penalty corner. The goal was only given after both umpires consulted whilst both teams left the pitch for the quarter break.
Surbiton suffered a blow when they lost Beckie Middleton to a facial injury in the 22nd minute. Five minutes later, Buckingham equalised, the visitors' leading goalscorer, Kitty Higgins converting their second penalty corner after Zoe Shipperley's initial shot was saved by Surbiton goalkeeper Brooke Butler. Higgins took her season tally to five with her fourth penalty corner conversion.
Buckingham goalkeeper, Ella Jackson denied Holly Payne and Rebecca van Arrowsmith intercepted a Twigg cross in the circle as Surbiton aimed to retake the lead.
Penalty corner routines came to the fore in the 31st minute to restore Surbiton's lead, this time Sanders scoring for the fourth match running to give Surbiton a 2-1 lead.
However, Surbiton had struggled with their routine at times, Shipperley given time to intercept a trap as the hosts were too slow to take action in the 16th minute.
The skies darkened during the match and rain arrived at half time with the floodlights needed ten minutes into the second half.
By then, Jackson had saved from Sanders and Catlin with Darcy Bourne also forcing a save in the third quarter.
Surbiton came even closer in the 50th minute when Sanders struck the left post with a fierce shot. Martin ran towards goal before Jackson saved and Frankie Scott cleared the ball from the circle.
Buckingham proceeded to blast their third penalty corner over the cross bar.
With ten minutes remaining, Surbiton were awarded a penalty stroke following their ninth penalty corner, again after both umpires consulted.
Ansley put away her second stroke and third goal of the season to apparently give Surbiton breathing space in the 60th minute. However a minute later, Buckingham were awarded a stroke of their own which Lottie Porter slotted past Butler to give Surbiton some late anxious moments.
Buckingham's third successive defeat, following a 2-1 loss at Beeston and a 3-2 reverse at home to Holcombe saw them drop from third to fourth after Holcombe beat Beeston 3-0 to move up to third.
East Grinstead's revival saw them beat Clifton Robinsons 4-0 to move up to fifth behind Buckingham on goal difference.
Loughborough Students beat the University of Birmingham for their first home win of the season.
Surbiton's home game versus Hampstead & Westminster on 16 November starts at 4.30 pm and follows L2's game against the University of Bristol and M1's game also against Hampstead.