L1 Held At Home By University of Birmingham
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies saw their one hundred per cent record in this season's Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division ended by the University of Birmingham at Sugden Road at Saturday lunchtime.
On a day when two top flight fixtures were affected by the weather: Bowdon Hightown's home fixture with Beeston postponed and Holcombe's match with Buckingham abandoned in the second half with the teams drawing 1-1, Surbiton's fixture was delayed by 25 minutes while one of the circles defrosted.
Surbiton attacked from the start posing a threat after just 20 seconds, and were rewarded in the second minute, former Birmingham player Susie Catlin putting Surbiton ahead from the edge of the circle.
But Birmingham rallied quickly and levelled in the fifth minute, Lauren Hunt also scoring from open play to conclude an exciting open period.
After that, the game became scrappy with Surbiton struggling to break down a dogged Birmingham defence, whilst Birmingham had chances to snatch a second goal.
When Surbiton did find themselves in front of goal, they couldn't find a way past Birmingham goalkeeper Nicole Marks who was equal to the challenges she faced, youngster Maddie Long denied in the thirteenth minute; Hannah Martin failing to score late in the first half after an assist from Darcy Bourne and Erica Sanders also thwarted following good approach play from Eloise Stenner.
Birmingham captain, Amelia Andrew marshalled her defence very well as the students tried to end a five game losing streak.
Rosie Henderson and Laura Graham gave Andrew excellent defensive support with Henderson tackling Alice Sharp and Graham clearing the ball from the circle.
Surbiton were far from at their best, lacking cohesion at times as they made too many unforced errors when passing the ball.
Sanders, Stenner and Martin had further chances to score but Marks kept them at bay with confidence.
Surbiton's penalty corner expertise also deserted them after all three goals at Bowdon last week came from penalty corners. Giselle Ansley and Hannah Martin couldn't quite put the finishing touches to Surbiton's three penalty corners whilst Birmingham had one corner at the end of the first half which saw Andrew's shot saved by Sabbie Heesh.
The draw saw Surbiton's run of 11 successive wins come to an end as they had their first score draw since 6 October 2018 when they drew 1-1 at East Grinstead.
Birmingham now have a two point lead over bottom club Bowdon with both teams having seven games to play.
Surbiton's lead was cut to six points after Hampstead & Westminster beat Loughborough Students 3-0.
East Grinstead cemented their third position with a 2-1 win at fourth placed Clifton Robinsons.
East Grinstead travel to the University of Birmingham on Sunday.
Surbiton play their last match before the mid-season break when they travel to Beeston next Saturday (7 December) push back 2 pm.