L1 Draw 2-2 With Buckingham
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies were made to pay for their inability to finish as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Buckingham at Sugden Road on Saturday afternoon.
Surbiton and Buckingham had never drawn a fixture in the South Clubs' Women's Hockey League, Women's Cup or the Vitality Women's Hockey League, but Buckingham equalised late after Surbiton came from behind to lead 2-1.
The early foggy and damp morning was quickly forgotten as Sugden Road was bathed in warm sunshine. Surbiton's captain, Sarah Evans testing Buckingham goalkeeper Nicole Marks after just 43 seconds.
Darcy Bourne crossed from the right for Eloise Stenner to force another save and Meg Dowthwaite's cross was well defended by Buckingham's Megan Lewis-Williams as Surbiton kept up the pressure.
Jo Day responded for Buckingham in a rare attack upfield, but a one-two passing move between Maddie Long and Sophie Hamilton ended in frustration as Long's shot went past the right post.
Holly Payne and Hamilton also had shots saved by Marks in the first quarter, but Surbiton were stunned early in the second quarter when Buckingham took the lead in the 21st minute through Abbie Brant from a counter attack.
Bourne had forced a glove save from Marks, and Evans, Lottie Ross and Georgie Twigg put together an excellent passing move only to be thwarted by Zoe James-Carter (nee Shipperley).
Hamilton made a determined run towards goal only to slip the ball past the right post and a brilliant interception by Evans and pass to Emily Defroand ended with a shot past the left post as Surbiton began to wonder what they had to do to score.
Surbiton's supporters also wondered when Evans' angled shot towards the end of the half also went wide of the goal.
The answer came in the 40th minute when following a first half with no penalty corners, Surbiton won their first. Although Marks saved the first shot, Hamilton was on hand to put away the rebound to bring Surbiton level at 1-1.
Surbiton then had a one player advantage after Lewis-Wiliiams was sent to the sin-bin two minutes later, only for Surbiton's Leah Wilkinson to reverse the advantage in the 47th minute for a clash with Lewis-Williams on her return to the pitch.
Both teams attacked but found defences on top until late drama in the last four minutes. Surbiton thought they had won the match in the 66th minute when Stenner put the hosts ahead for the first time in the match from close range for her third goal of the season, but there was a twist in the tail.
Defroand was banished to the naughty step in the 67th minute with Buckingham taking full advantage within a minute, Day, who had scored Buckingham's' winner at home to Loughborough Students the week before, salvaging another point.
The draw was Buckingham's third in four league matches this season as they joined Clifton Robinsons as the division's draw specialists.
Clifton drew 1-1 at Holcombe. Hampstead & Westminster increased their lead at the top of the table to six points with a narrow 1-0 win at home to the University of Birmingham.
East Grinstead replaced Buckingham in second following their 2-1 win at Beeston and Wimbledon moved up to third after a 4-1 win at Swansea.
Surbiton dropped to fifth, but have a game in hand over both Hampstead & Westminster and Buckingham.
Surbiton are away to the University of Birmingham next Saturday.