M1 Drop To Fourth After Old Georgians Defeat
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men dropped to fourth in the Men's Hockey League Premier Division after a disappointing 2-0 loss to Old Georgians at St. George's College on Sunday afternoon.
Surbiton would have finished Phase 1 in first place on goal difference from Wimbledon if they had beaten Old Georgians, but the defeat combined with Hampstead's 4-1 win at Oxted, promoted Hampstead to third place, dropping Surbiton to fourth.
Old Georgians leapfrogged Wimbledon to finish on 27 points from their ten games, Wimbledon finished in second with 25 points, Hampstead & Westminster in third on 23 and Surbiton in fourth on 22.
On a bitterly cold afternoon, but in sunshine rather than darker skies, Surbiton struggled to find any rhythm against an Old Georgians team which frequently broke up Surbiton's attacks and on occasion, Surbiton made unforced errors at the key time.
Surbiton fell behind in the eighth minute, Chris Griffiths putting Old Georgians ahead from open play to the delight of the many home supporters in attendance at the final league match of 2021.
Old Georgians took control in the 25th minute when Lee Morton fired inside the right post from the left of the circle to double the hosts' advantage.
Trailing 2-0, Surbiton tried to respond, Jamie Golden just failing to control an aerial ball on the bounce, Rob Farrington forcing a save from Old Georgians' George Pinner, closely followed by Ben Boon's frustration with a shot past the right post.
David Goodfield and James Gall also went close towards the end of the first half before Gareth Furlong narrowly missed the goal from Surbiton's first penalty corner just before the half time whistle.
Old Georgians largely got their tactics right, frustrating Surbiton defensively, although Nick Park showed some excellent possession skills in trying to find an opening in the home defence and Goodfield was tackled by Old Georgians' Liam Sanford and Boon was stopped by Henry Weir.
Old Georgians also found a way to successfully stop the division's leading goalscorer, Luke Taylor from adding to his 15 goals for the season, blocking his shot from Surbiton's second penalty corner with Pinner making an excellent double save from the follow-up corner, Taylor and Golden both denied.
Realisation dawned that it wasn't going to be Surbiton's day when their fourth and final penalty corner was mistrapped, the opportunity wasted.
Griffiths, James Carson and Chris Proctor all had chances to score for Old Georgians and to both teams' credit in a hard fought match, no cards were shown during the match, so discipline came out on top in an entertaining game.
Surbiton will be disappointed with their performance which means they have only taken one point from the last three games following a 2-1 home loss to Hampstead & Westminster and a late comeback at home to Wimbledon, salvaging a point in a 2-2 draw, but they can regroup in preparation for their top six season resumes in 2022.
Surbiton will face Old Georgians, Wimbledon, Hampstead & Westminster, Holcombe and East Grinstead in the Top Six section of Phase 2.
Holcombe's game at Brooklands Manchester University, but East Grinstead snatched sixth place from Oxted with a 3-2 home win over Beeston, Oxted dropping into the bottom five due to their home defeat to Hampstead.
In the other match, the University of Exeter drew 3-3 at home to the University of Durham after conceding a penalty corner goal with the last play of the game.
Surbiton Men discovered on Friday that the Euro Hockey League will be held in the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen at Easter 2022.
Surbiton will compete in the FINAL12 Preliminary Round in one of four matches, the four winners joining four seeded teams in the KO8.
The draws for the Euro Hockey League and the EHL Men's Cup, in which Hampstead will compete in Egara, Spain, will be held on Tuesday, November 30 at 1 pm CET (12 noon GMT).