L1 Extend Prem Lead To 9 Points After Loughborough Win
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies opened up a nine point lead in the Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division over second placed Hampstead & Westminster after they beat Storm Dennis and Loughborough Students 3-1 at Sugden Road on Saturday.
Hampstead & Westminster slipped to a 2-1 home defeat to Buckingham to boost Surbiton's chances of finishing top of the table at the end of the regular season.
Although the internationals who were on duty in Australia and New Zealand were unavailable, meaning former Surbiton player Izzy Petter was not able to face her former club, Sarah Evans and Emily Defroand able to play on their return from injury.
With gusty winds and incoming rain threatening, Surbiton took the lead in the third minute, Georgie Twigg and Robyn Collins combining before Collins sent a long pass into the circle for Erica Sanders to deftly deflect the ball past visiting goalkeeper Miriam Pritchard.
Eloise Stenner also forced a save from Pritchard whilst Loughborough also threatened at the other end, Jen Park proving a handful for the Surbiton defence.
Loughborough found themselves on level terms at the end of the first quarter, as they forced two quick penalty corners in the eighteenth minute. From the second, Charlotte Summers passed to Genevieve Hussell who calmly finished at the left post to the visitors' delight.
Surbiton restored their lead in the 23rd minute from their second penalty corner having had trapping issues with their first award in the sixth minute. Emily Atkinson duly put the ball away after the Loughborough defence failed to clear.
Four minutes later, Sanders went close to scoring her second goal of the match after brilliant anticipation by Emily Guckian set up a shot on goal which Pritchard saved.
Loughborough also had defenders Park and Emily Peers to thank for clearing the ball away from danger towards the end of the first half, but Loughborough stayed competitive and went into the second half 2-1 down.
Both teams battled with the conditions under the Sugden Road floodlights, Surbiton coming close to scoring from their third penalty corner, only to be denied by a post.
With Peers also clearing the ball off the line, Loughborough's goal seemed to be having a charmed life, but the third much needed goal came with four minutes to play, another penalty corner routine ending with Atkinson beating Pritchard and enable Surbiton to complete the league double over the newly promoted club.
East Grinstead, currently battling against European indoor relegation in the Hague stayed third, a point behind Hampstead & Westminster.
Buckingham cemented their fourth place with a their 2-1 win to open up a four point gap over Clifton Robinsons, beaten 2-1 at Beeston and Holcombe, 3-0 winners at Bowdon Hightown.
Loughborough dropped down to seventh.
Surbiton travel to Buckingham next Saturday (push back 12 noon).