L1 Beat Clifton Robinsons 5-0
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies ended 2022 with another convincing home victory as they beat Clifton Robinsons 5-0 at Sugden Road on Saturday afternoon.
Surbiton went through the first half of the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division season without conceding a goal at home and Clifton Robinsons, although disappointed by the defeat, were compensated as Loughborough Students lost 2-1 at Reading to ensure that Clifton finished in the Top Six.
Clifton were put under pressure early but goalkeeper Aline De Visser made an early save from Darcy Bourne as Sophie Hamilton crossed from the right.
Hamilton had also combined with Steph Elliott to force Surbiton's first penalty corner only for Giselle Ansley's shot to miss the goal.
Surbiton put together some good passing moves as they tried to find a way to unlock the Clifton defence and Jessica Lea attacked down the left wing as Clifton tried to become the first team to breach the Surbiton defence at Sugden Road this season.
As the first quarter started to wind down, Izzy Petter's shot from an acute angle went past the left post, Clifton happy to go into the second quarter goalless and on level terms.
Surbiton started to put the pressure on the visitors in the second quarter by forcing penalty corners and in the 24th minute made the breakthrough from their third award, De Visser saving from Amy Costello only for Hannah Martin to put away the rebound.
Seven minutes later, Surbiton's fifth penalty corner saw a penalty stroke awarded which Ansley clinically put away to double the hosts' lead.
Surbiton's third goal arrived in the 43rd minute, as Hamilton and Bourne combined in the same way they attempted early in the match but this time, Hamilton's cross from the right was instantly dispatched by Bourne from close range, De Visser unable to react in time to Bourne's shot.
Both Martin and Hamilton found themselves in the sin-bin within two minutes of each other from the 51st minute, but Clifton were unable to take advantage. Elliott and Clifton's Eloise Laity collided in the circle before the end of the third quarter.
Clifton's penalty corner defence had to work overtime from the 56h minute as Surbiton forced seven set-pieces in six minutes, Martin converting their twelfth of the match in the 63rd minute to extend Surbiton's lead to 4-0.
Clifton had one penalty corner opportunity in the 38th minute which Surbiton managed to defend.
De Visser also made a double save from Elliott and Holly Payne before Clifton gave Surbiton another penalty corner award in a defiant attempt to keep the Surbiton forwards out.
The final goal came literally seconds before the final whistle, Hamilton running into the circle before beating De Visser from the right of the circle to earn Surbiton their third successive 5-0 home victory after previously beating Holcombe and the University of Nottingham.
Wimbledon finished 2022 five points behind Surbiton as they beat the University of Nottingham 3-1 in South West London. Hampstead & Westminster are two points further back following their 3-0 away win at Beeston, who are fifth, four points ahead of Clifton Robinsons.
East Grinstead are fourth after a convincing 5-1 home win over bottom club Buckingham.
The other match ended all square as Holcombe drew 2-2 at the University of Birmingham.
Surbiton will now concentrate on the Super 6s Championships in 2023 and their first season back in the Premier Division after being promoted from Division One last season.
Surbiton travel to Repton for the Premier Division tournament over the weekends of 7/8 and 14/15 January 2023 and start against the hosts who were runners-up to East Grinstead in last season's competition.
The other teams in the Super 6s Premier Division are Bowdon, Buckingham, East Grinstead, Leicester, Sevenoaks, Slough and Sutton Coldfield.