L1 On Cusp Of Playoff Qualification
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies have all but qualified for the end of season playoffs after winning 3-1 at Beeston on Saturday afternoon.
With Clifton Robinsons and Holcombe only able to attain a maximum of 34 points, the total that Surbiton now have after 12 matches and Buckingham with a potential maximum of 35 points, the reigning champions are very close to booking their place in the final four.
Hampstead & Westminster stayed within six points of Surbiton thanks to a 3-1 win at the University of Birmingham.
East Grinstead kept up their run of form with a 4-0 home win over Holcombe to open up an eleven point gap over fourth placed Clifton Robinsons but having played two games more.
At a sunny but chilly Nottingham Hockey Centre, Surbiton forced a penalty corner after just twenty seconds after a slick passing move involving Emily Atkinson, Erica Sanders and Eloise Stenner but Susie Catlin's shot was wide of the goal.
Beeston quickly responded with a penalty corner of their own, but they couldn't take advantage of their award.
Sanders went close to opening the scoring in the seventh minute when her shot rebounded off the post, but made amends in the 19th minute when following a free hit, Hannah Martin crossed from the right for Sanders to score at the right post.
Surbiton had chances to double their lead but Beeston goalkeeper Nicki Cochrane made a fine double save from Martin and Jenna Woolven and Beeston were grateful to Paige Gillott in defence as well as Katie McKee and Nadia Benallal who made timely defensive tackles.
The Surbiton defence was caught out in the 36th minute when Agustina Fernandez determinedly regained possession before firing home from the edge of the circle to bring Beeston level.
Ten minutes later, Beeston's second and last penalty corner award inadvertently set up Surbiton's second goal, the visitors mounting a breakaway attack which saw youngster Darcy Bourne run into the circle and slip the ball past Cochrane to restore Surbiton's lead.
Bourne then became goal provider in the 66th minute when a run down the right wing and a penetrating crossfield pass found Martin who scored on the turn to clinch the victory.
Elsewhere, Clifton Robinsons drew 2-2 at Loughborough Students and Buckingham ended a run of five straight defeats with a 3-2 home win over Bowdon Hightown.
Holcombe play Buckingham on 15 December in the rearranged fixture after the original match at Holcombe Park was abandoned at half time due to a frozen pitch with the score 1-1.
Surbiton resume their season on 15 February when they host Loughborough Students (push back 2 pm). Surbiton battled to a 3-2 win on opening day when the teams last met.