M1 Snatch Late Draw With Wimbledon
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men snatched a late equaliser in their local derby at home to Wimbledon at Sugden Road on Saturday night to earn a 2-2 draw and maintain their hopes of finishing top of the Men's Hockey League Premier Division after the first half of the season.
Surbiton had suffered a setback a week earlier when Hampstead & Westminster had come from behind to win 2-1 at Sugden Road.
In front of a massive crowd, with people continuing to come into the ground after the match had started, leaders Wimbledon threatened to make it a double setback when Sam Hooper converted a third minute penalty corner to put Wimbledon ahead.
And when Ronan Harvey-Kelly doubled Wimbledon's advantage from open play two minutes before half time, Wimbledon were on course to repeat their 3-1 victory on their last visit to Sugden Road in March 2020.
Surbiton battled hard in the second half, but Wimbledon proved difficult to break down with Wimbledon goalkeeper, James Bailey making some fine saves and denying Gareth Furlong from Surbiton's first penalty corner in the 59th minute.
The comeback started with four minutes to play after David Goodfield was fouled in the circle, resulting in the award of a penalty stroke. Luke Taylor coolly slotted the ball Bailey to give Surbiton and their supporters hope.
And that hope was realised seconds before the end, when Surbiton were awarded a second penalty corner which Taylor drag-flicked past Bailey to give the hosts a point which had seemed unlikely five minutes from time, but proved that Surbiton never give up until the final whistle.
Surbiton's Headline Sponsors, Mizuno were at Sugden Road for Saturday's big local derby and their support this season has been instrumental in both first teams' challenges for the league title.
Wimbledon's supporters will be disappointed having seen their team lead 2-0, but hockey was the winner in another great local derby.
Wimbledon have now completed their first half fixture programme and saw their lead cut to one point on Sunday after Old Georgians won 10-0 at Brooklands Manchester University.
Old Georgians' victory saw Surbiton drop to third, three points behind Wimbledon and one point behind Old Georgians. Surbiton visit Old Georgians next Sunday (2 pm) and a win would move Surbiton to the top of the table on goal difference from Wimbledon.
Hampstead & Westminster are two points behind Surbiton in fourth after their 3-0 win at Brooklands Manchester University on Saturday, a game rearranged due to Hampstead previously having difficulties travelling to the North West.
Holcombe are guaranteed a fifth place finish in the first half of the season after a 4-0 home win over Oxted. Oxted currently hold the all important sixth position, but will be looking over their shoulders at both Beeston and East Grinstead who can both snatch sixth position with a win when they face each other at East Grinstead. Oxted are at home to Hampstead & Westminster on the final day.
Brooklands Manchester University have yet another home game when they welcome Holcombe and the University of Exeter make the long trip to the University of Durham for their final league match of 2021.