L1 Win 4-3 At Holcombe
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies beat Holcombe 4-3 on Saturday in an entertaining game to stay two points clear of second placed Hampstead & Westminster.
Hampstead won 1-0 at Loughborough Students to temporarily go top of the Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division before the push back at Holcombe Park which was delayed by approximately ten minutes.
With the sun starting to set and a chilly breeze developing, Surbiton and Holcombe cancelled each other out before Holcombe started to put pressure on the Surbiton defence, Candice Manuel and Philippa Lewis attacking down the left wing; Sabbie Heesh forced to make a save and Surbiton's Emily Atkinson clearing the ball to stop Emma Trunks in her tracks.
The pressure told in the ninth minute, Lorna Jane Cruickshank scoring her third goal of the campaign to put Holcombe ahead.
Two minutes later, Surbiton levelled thanks to Robyn Collins' penalty corner conversion.
On the quarter-hour, Surbiton went ahead, Erica Sanders smashing the ball against the backboard to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Holcombe were back level in the 19th minute, Steph Elliott slotting the ball past Heesh from a penalty stroke to make the score 2-2 in a freescoring first twenty minutes.
Six minutes before half time it was Surbiton's chance to win a penalty stroke after the visitors' fifth penalty corner, Georgie Twigg using all her experience to outwit Rose Thomas and restore Surbiton's lead. Surbiton led 3-2 at half time only after Candice Manuel went close at the end of the first half.
The goalscoring slowed down in the second half, Jenna Woolven crossing from the right for Eloise Stenner to poke home from close range in the 43rd minute.
Holcombe had been physical on occasion in the first half, Stenner and Sanders fouled quickly in succession, but Holcombe were reduced to nine players when Jo Westwood saw yellow in the 45th minute after fouling Maddie Long, who had a fine debut and Manuel saw green in the 48th minute. Sanders followed a minute later after being shown a green card to leave Surbiton down to ten players.
Long showed no fear, battling with Holcombe's Alice Wills.
Holcombe were buoyed when Lewis reduced the deficit to 4-3 in the 59th minute after only having Heesh to beat and hearts were almost in Surbiton's mouths when Lewis came close to equalising in a similar manner shortly afterwards.
In a frantic final ten minutes, Holcombe just ended up short, the floodlights taking effect against the darkening sky as the nights start to draw in.
Buckingham lost ground following their 2-1 defeat at Beeston. Holcombe moved back above the University of Birmingham, who also lost 2-1, at East Grinstead. Clifton Robinsons won 3-2 at Bowdon Hightown.
Next weekend the IWHL is scheduled for Sunday with Surbiton Ladies taking on the University of Birmingham at 2.30 pm after Surbiton Ladies' second team play their Birmingham counterparts at 12.30 in Birmingham.