L1 Shocked By Clifton Robinsons
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies suffered a shock home defeat on Saturday when they lost 1-0 to Clifton Robinsons.
Surbiton, already assured of finishing top of the Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division at the end of the regular season, had gone 20 games since their last defeat at the University of Birmingham just over a year ago when they also lost 1-0.
Clifton defended fourteen penalty corners, Maria Jones in perfect position to clear the ball with her stick twice, whilst Surbiton contrived to hit the woodwork on three occasions.
And to prove that it wasn't to be Surbiton's day, Clifton had a last minute reprieve when following Surbiton's fourteenth penalty corner, Clifton conceded a penalty stroke which Aline De Visser saved from Erica Sanders.
It was also the first time in sixteen Premier Division encounters that Clifton had beaten Surbiton.
Yet, in the early minutes, Surbiton dominated and succeeded in dispossessing Clifton's defenders to set up attacks. Alice Sharp and Sanders causing problems, although Clifton threatened in the first minute.
Georgie Twigg was unfortunate to mistime a pass to Susie Catlin and Catlin was subsequently thwarted in the circle.
Emily Atkinson and Jenna Woolven also combined well before a cross eluded everyone in the circle and with Twigg running towards goal before shooting past the left post, it only seemed a matter of time before Surbiton broke through.
Sanders had a shot kicked away by De Visser and Maddie Long also looked threatening but the game remained goalless at half time.
Clifton went close early in the second half, but took the lead from their second penalty corner of the match, Kathryn Lane finding the backboard in the 41st minute with her third goal of the campaign.
Surbiton continued to force penalty corners but Clifton succeeded in blocking shots or clearing the ball if they couldn't rely on the posts saving them.
Surbiton stayed patient but De Visser and Clifton stayed calm and held on for a vital win which gives them an outside chance of making the playoffs.
East Grinstead are still in the driving seat for a home semi-final with Hampstead & Westminster after both teams won on Saturday. Hampstead prolonged Buckingham's agony, winning 1-0 to prevent Buckingham from securing their playoff place. East Grinstead won 2-0 at Beeston and host Surbiton next Saturday as the current in-form team in the top flight.
Clifton Robinsons moved up to fifth after their win and lead Holcombe on goal difference after Holcombe ended the University of Birmingham's three game winning streak with a 3-1 home win.
Birmingham are level with Loughborough on 17 points after Loughborough lost 1-0 at Bowdon Hightown.
With one game to play, there is still doubt as to which team will finish ninth and face the losers of the Division One North and South playoff over two legs.
All games on the final weekend start at 2 pm and East Grinstead will go into their home game with Surbiton on a seven game winning streak and have won eleven of their last twelve games, having lost their first three league games at the start of the season.