L1 Suffer Heaviest Defeat At East Grinstead
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies suffered their heaviest ever Investec Women's Hockey League defeat when they crashed 6-1 at East Grinstead in their final regular season league match of the season on Saturday afternoon.
Since they first played in the Conference East in 2010-11 and were subsequently promoted to the Premier Division for the 2012-13 season, Surbiton had never lost by more than two goals.
They lost 2-0 at Old Loughtonians in 2010-11; 3-1 at Leicester in 2012-13 and 3-1 at the University of Birmingham in 2017-18.
But after a competitive first half which saw East Grinstead lead 2-1 at the interval, East Grinstead took firm control to lead 4-1 before scoring two further goals after Surbiton replaced goalkeeper, Sabbie Heesh with an eleventh attacker.
In an unfortunate first seven minutes, Surbiton's Georgie Twigg and East Grinstead's Ellie Rayer were both hit by the ball, Twigg able to recover after play was stopped whilst Rayer walked off the pitch to recover.
Surbiton fell behind in the ninth minute when Sophie Bray's shot ended up in the top right corner out of Heesh's reach.
However the visitors were level in the 24th minute when their leading goalscorer, Erica Sanders shot on the turn to find the backboard in defiant fashion.
East Grinstead restored their lead four minutes later when Rayer's shot was finished off by Tess Howard from their fourth penalty corner.
Surbiton were caught out twice in a three minute spell midway through the second half, to ensure East Grinstead were firmly in control.
First Katerina Lacina scored from open play in the 49th minute to leave Surbiton trailing 3-1, then from East Grinstead's sixth penalty corner a shot was stopped illegally on the way to goal resulting in a penalty stroke being awarded. Tess Howard slotted the ball into the netting past Heesh as Surbiton trailed by three goals.
Heesh was then replaced by an eleventh attacker, Sophie Bray scoring her second goal of the match and 24th of the campaign with six minutes to play, quickly followed by Laura Unsworth scoring East Grinstead's sixth goal in the 68th minute.
Following on from their 6-0 win at Loughborough Students a fortnight earlier, East Grinstead were on fire and showed why they have won their last eight league matches and are now unbeaten in 15 games after losing their first three league matches of the season.
If the playoffs go ahead, Surbiton will face Buckingham, who condemned the University of Birmingham to ninth place and a potential two leg playoff against the losers of the Division One North and South playoff.
Buckingham won 1-0 at Birmingham and Loughborough Students beat Holcombe 3-2 to finish seventh on their return to the top flight. Holcombe finished sixth.
East Grinstead's win would see them host Hampstead in the playoff semi-finals. Hampstead beat Beeston 4-0, to see the Nottingham club avoid ninth place by one point ahead of Birmingham.
Clifton Robinsons finished fifth, three points adrift of Buckingham as Bowdon Hightown ended their 31 season stay in the top flight with a 1-0 defeat at Golden Hill Sports Ground in Bristol.