M1 Back On Top Of Premier After Beeston Win
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men went back to the top of the Men's Hockey League Premier Division following their 5-1 win at Beeston on Sunday afternoon.
Wimbledon had gone three points clear at the top having won 4-2 at East Grinstead on Saturday evening, but as before, Surbiton already had a superior goal difference to Wimbledon, so a win was enough to move Surbiton back into first place with a game in hand.
The game at Nottingham Hockey Centre was played in chilly and windy conditions and although rain didn't threaten, the floodlights were switched on in the first quarter as a precaution against dark skies.
Surbiton went into the match in excellent goalscoring form, but it was Beeston who threatened first in the sixth minute, Henry Croft's shot saved by Ore Ogunlana and sent high into the sky and out of the ground.
Two minutes later, Surbiton thought that they had taken the lead, a good passing move involving Jack Middleton finding James Gall on the right to cross the ball for Rob Farrington to finish, the ball rolling over the line. But the goal was disallowed.
In the 12th minute, Surbiton did go ahead, Ben Boon scoring from close range from wide of the left post. And in the final action of the first quarter, James Gall again crossed from the right, this time for Jamie Golden to finish with aplomb to double the visitors' lead.
The second quarter was goalless, but the Premier Division's leading goalscorer, Luke Taylor was denied twice from penalty corners with Beeston goalkeeper, Simon Hujwan in fine form.
Surbiton were quick out of the traps in the third quarter and immediately forced their third penalty corner of the match, Gareth Furlong rattling the crossbar.
Trailing by two goals, Beeston had a chance of mounting a comeback if they had managed to pull a goal back, but their hopes were all but ended when Surbiton struck twice in a five minute spell.
David Goodfield scored Surbiton's third goal of the match in the 44th minute with a determined finish and five minutes later, Golden netted his second goal of the game from the visitors' fourth and final penalty corner with a well worked routine.
Farrington put Surbiton 5-0 ahead in the 56th minute after Hujwan saved from Sam Spencer, only for Farrington to recover the ball from the left of the circle and get into position to smash the ball against the backboard.
Beeston finally pulled a goal back in the 60th minute, Eddie Harper playing a through ball for Sam Apoola to go round Ogunlana and slot the ball into the goal to the delight of the home supporters.
Three minutes later, Kai Aichinger had a shot blocked from Beeston's first penalty corner of the game before there was drama in the 66th minute from the hosts' second penalty corner when it was their turn to have a goal chalked off, Croft scoring from the right of the circle, only for the umpires to decide that the first shot on goal was too high.
The 5-1 win gave Surbiton their seventh successive league win of the season and also their seventh successive league win at Nottingham Hockey Centre since Beeston last beat them on home soil in October 2013.
Elsewhere, Old Georgians bounced back from last week's 2-0 defeat at Wimbledon to beat Hampstead & Westminster 5-0 at Paddington Recreation Ground. The defeat dropped Hampstead to ten points behind both Surbiton and Wimbledon and seven points behind Old Georgians.
Holcombe moved up to fifth, above Oxted, after their 7-2 win at the University of Exeter on Saturday night. Oxted drew 4-4 at home to Brooklands Manchester University to maintain their four point advantage over Brooklands, who have a game in hand in their chase for a top six finish. The University of Durham, who had a bye week, are eighth.
Both East Grinstead and the University of Exeter's hopes of finishing in the top six are over, with East Grinstead nine points off the pace and Exeter ten points, with each team only having three games left in the first half of the season.
Surbiton were due to have a bye week next week, but although they won't play on Sunday, they will host Hampstead & Westminster at 5 pm on Saturday (13 November) at 5 pm, after Surbiton Ladies play Loughborough Students at 3 pm, in the rearranged match which was originally postponed due to both teams participating in the Euro Hockey League in Belgium.