L1 Beat Beeston 2-0
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies won their first home Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division match on Saturday afternoon, beating Beeston 2-0 at Sugden Road.
Before the match, a minute's silence was held in the memory of Loughborough coach, Andy "Gibbo" Gibson, who sadly passed away last Tuesday.
When the game did get underway, as at Clifton Robinsons the week before, it was Surbiton who were under pressure as Lucy Millington and Ella Cusack attacked the Surbiton defence and Hannah Grieve had an early opportunity to score from the visitors' first penalty corner in the third minute.
Surbiton then came more into the game, with Meg Dowthwaite just firing past the right post; Darcy Bourne testing visiting goalkeeper, Steph Tirrell; and Maddie Long unlucky not to find a Surbiton forward from a cross from the right.
Beeston's Maddie Pendle and Nicola Moss, together with Grieve, worked hard in defence, but there was nothing they could do seconds before the end of the first quarter, when Georgie Twigg converted Surbiton's second penalty corner to give them the lead.
Millington and Grieve attacked early in the second quarter for Beeston, but Surbiton responded, Sophie Hamilton running towards goal and finding Bourne, whose shot was again saved by Tirrell.
As the first half started to wind down, both teams found themselves short of a player as Surbiton's Emily Defroand and Beeston's Lauren Burrell were both shown green cards.
At the end of the first half, Pendle forced a save from Surbiton's Sabbie Heesh from the visitors' second penalty corner. as Surbiton went into the second half with their one goal advantage intact.
However, only seconds into the second half, Surbiton doubled their lead, Eloise Stenner, who had scored the first goal in Beeston's only win at Sugden Road in November 2018, when the Nottingham club won 2-1, scoring from close range after Holly Payne crossed from the right.
The momentum was with Surbiton at this point and Lottie Ross was unlucky to completely misjudge the direction of her shot after rotating towards goal.
Unfortunately, Surbiton suffered a blow in the 41st minute when the game was suspended to allow Hamilton to have her head bandaged after suffering a blood injury in the corner of the pitch. After several minutes, Hamilton was able to walk off the pitch.
Beeston threatened in the 44th minute, forcing two successive penalty corners, but Grieve couldn't find the target to bring Beeston back into the match.
Beeston's Bea Bell managed to defend well against Surbiton's Alice Sharp and Sarah Evans showed excellent possession skills in the circle whilst trying to find a way to outwit he Beeston defence.
In the fourth quarter, Long had a shot saved by Tirrell and card woes resurfaced in the final five minutes with Payne spending the last four minutes in the sin bin after seeing yellow and Nadia Benallal, who had scored the first Beeston goal at home to Holcombe in their first match seeing green.
Beeston also had an injury scare, Alice Huddlestone limping off the pitch, five minutes from time, as Surbiton saw out the game to keep their fourth clean sheet in five home Premier Division meetings with Beeston.
Elsewhere, Hampstead & Westminster ended East Grinstead's 22 game unbeaten run with a 3-2 win at Paddington Recreation Ground.
The other two games were drawn: Buckingham 1-1 with Clifton Robinsons to give both clubs their second draws of the season and the University of Birmingham ended their run of five successive 3-1 defeats at Holcombe by earning a 2-2 draw.
In Division One South, Surbiton Ladies' second team won 4-0 at Canterbury. Martha Le Huray scored twice, with the first and third goals; Hannah Denison scored the third and Gemma Townsend added the fourth.
Surbiton's first team head to Hamburg next weekend to take part in the Euro Hockey League Ranking Cup.