L1 Complete League Double Over Hampstead
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies completed the league double over newly promoted Hampstead & Westminster, winning 3-2 at Paddington Recreation Ground on a day when the weather threw everything at the players and hardy spectators.
The day also saw the sad relegation of Bowdon Hightown from the Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division after 31 ever present seasons in the top flight. Their 2-0 home defeat to the University of Birmingham and Beeston's 1-0 win at Buckingham ensures that Bowdon will play in the second tier of English hockey for the first time next season.
Surbiton started like an express train, Hannah Martin scoring after one minute and nineteen seconds and Eloise Stenner adding a second goal in the eighth minute as Hampstead seemed to have little answer to the visitors' attacks.
However, after failing to score from their first penalty corner, Hampstead pulled a goal back on the half-hour, Fran Tew giving the home supporters some hope.
The game started in sunshine but the third quarter saw a hailstorm which turned to rain before stopping to allow the game to end in sunshine.
Hampstead levelled in the 43rd minute, Sarah Robertson's cross from the left turned in by Melanie Wilkinson.
At the end of the third quarter, Surbiton were back in front, Georgie Twigg getting the final touch to the visitors' second penalty corner.
Jenna Woolven was unlucky to have a shot go high and wide right in the fourth quarter. Hannah Martin battled with Hampstead's Katherine Baker and Emily Rowlands as she ran at the home goal.
Hampstead suffered successive defeats for the first time in the Premier Division, having lost 2-1 at East Grinstead last Sunday.
The result allowed East Grinstead to go into second place, two points clear of Hampstead after the West Sussex club won 6-0 at Loughborough Students to exact revenge for a 5-1 home defeat earlier in the season.
Beeston won 1-0 at playoffs chasing Buckingham and with fifth to ninth so close, Beeston moved up to fifth, a point ahead of four teams on 17 points. Birmingham's win lifts them up to a heady sixth, whilst Clifton Robinsons are seventh and Holcombe eighth after the teams drew in Bristol.
Loughborough dropped from fifth to ninth, trailing Holcombe on goals scored.
Surbiton host Clifton next Saturday (7 March) at 12 noon.