M1 Back On Top Of Premier Division After Exeter Win
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men went back to the top of the Men's Hockey League Premier Division after a 7-0 home win over the University of Exeter at Sugden Road on Sunday afternoon.
Wimbledon had gone top on Saturday night following their 2-0 home win over Old Georgians. With Surbiton having a superior goal difference and trailing by three points before their match with Exeter, Surbiton just needed to win to return to the top after being displaced by Old Georgians a week ago.
On Old Members Day, the weather varied from sunshine at the start to rain at the end of the first half and even included a half time hailstorm.
Exeter tried an aerial ball to Seb Ansley early in the game as they tried to catch the Surbiton defence out, but Surbiton defended and were patient while trying break the deadlock.
Surbiton went ahead in the 9th minute, Ben Park scoring at the left post as former Surbiton goalkeeper, Taylor Seager-Green, who kept the score down with some excellent saves was beaten at the left post.
Seager-Green was unlucky in the 16th minute as Rob Farrington doubled Surbiton's lead from a rebound after an excellent save.
There was nothing Seager-Green could do in the 24th minute as Luke Taylor's drag-flick rebounded off the backboard to give Surbiton a three goal advantage.
In addition, Exeter defender Ben Fox made two excellent goal-line saves from Surbiton's fourth penalty corner in the 27th minute and the hosts' seventh penalty corner with six minutes to play.
The floodlights were switched on as the first half wore on and by the time that Exeter were hit by a double whammy of goals just before half time, rain was falling, increasing in intensity at times.
Taylor converted Surbiton's sixth penalty corner in the 34th minute before Ben Park also scored his second goal of the game a minute later, to leave Exeter reeling with a 5-0 half time deficit.
To Exeter's credit, the third quarter was scoreless, Seager-Green making a point blank save from Ben Park after a cross from Ben Boon. Nick Park also forced a save as Surbiton tried to extend their lead further.
In the fourth quarter, Farrington scored his second goal of the game, putting away a rebound from another Seager-Green save in the 58th minute.
Surbiton's seventh goal came from the penalty spot, Taylor completing his hat-trick with what turned out to be not an unlucky 13th goal of the season on Halloween.
Exeter still had work to do with Lewis Wilcher clearing the ball to the sideline and Surbiton forcing two successive penalty corners late in the game.
The whistle signalled Exeter's 14th successive league defeat, but the students showed a lot of spirit and effort, but were simply beaten by a better team on the day.
Surbiton and Wimbledon are now both on 18 points, with Surbiton holding a ten better goal difference and having a game in hand.
Old Georgians dropped to third, three points behind the top two, but they could regain second place on goal difference if they win their game in hand.
Hampstead & Westminster and Oxted stayed fourth and fifth respectively after both teams were without a game this weekend, Hampstead because their game at Brooklands Manchester University was postponed due to travel issues and Oxted had their bye week.
Holcombe moved into the top six courtesy of their 2-1 home win over East Grinstead and the University of Durham are a point behind in seventh thanks to their 3-2 home win over Beeston.
Beeston and Brooklands Manchester University are both on five points with East Grinstead four points adrift in tenth and Exeter bottom of the table having lost all six games this season.
Surbiton head to Beeston next Sunday.