M1 Lose Unbeaten Record At Home To Wimbledon
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men lost their unbeaten record in this season's Men's Hockey League Premier Division on Sunday when Wimbledon won 3-1 at Sugden Road.
Surbiton suffered their first defeat after a 25 game regular season unbeaten run, last having lost 4-3 at home to Beeston on 24 November 2018.
Surbiton had also gone eleven games unbeaten at home and 38 games since they last lost by a two goal margin.
On Old Members Day the game started in light drizzle. Surbiton's Luke Taylor found it more difficult to convert penalty corners after last week's five star show at Beeston.
Wimbledon's James Bailey was equal to Taylor in the visiting goal, his first save in the 15th minute followed by a cross from the right which was not touched in the circle.
Five minutes later, Phil Roper broke the deadlock from Wimbledon's first penalty corner to delight the visiting supporters. In the 24th minute, Roper struck again, this time from open play with a shot from the right of the circle to double Wimbledon's lead.
And Wimbledon's supporters were in dreamland when Roper completed his hat-trick in the 27th minute from his team's second penalty corner to leave Surbiton trailing 3-0.
Surbiton pulled a goal back three minutes before half time, this time Bailey's save from Taylor's drag-flick put away by David Goodfield as the ball went up in the air for Goodfield to swipe the ball into the goal with an outstretched stick.
That turned out to be the end of the goalscoring action, in spite of Surbiton forcing five penalty corners in the second half, Bailey and Wimbledon's penalty corner defence holding firm.
Surbiton's last chance to score from a penalty corner came in added on time at the end of the match when the ball went high over the crossbar to sum up the regular season champions' day.
Surbiton ended the regular season with a six point advantage over second placed Hampstead & Westminster, 2-0 home winners over Beeston.
Wimbledon's victory clinched their third place finish although Old Georgians would have gone third if Surbiton had won as they beat Reading 5-2, a result which sees the Berkshire club relegated after 27 season run in the top flight.
The University of Exeter will be scheduled to play the loser of the Division One North/ South playoff after their 3-2 defeat at Holcombe condemned them to ninth place.
Exeter went into the final day in eighth place, but Brooklands Manchester University saved themselves by moving above Exeter courtesy of their 2-1 home win over East Grinstead, the West Sussex club ending the season with a run of five defeats.
Taylor ended up as the Premier Division's top goalscorer with 28 goals, three ahead of Wimbledon's Ed Horler.
If the playoffs go ahead, Surbiton will be at home to Old Georgians and Hampstead will be at home to Wimbledon in the semi-finals.