L1 Beat Reading 4-0
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies maintained their one point lead over second placed Wimbledon in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division with a 4-0 home victory over newly promoted Reading at Sugden Road on Saturday.
In their last home game, Surbiton had beaten the other promoted team, the University of Nottingham also by a 4-0 margin and after a 6-1 win at Buckingham and a 2-1 defeat at Wimbledon, Surbiton returned to their custom of keeping clean sheets.
Reading failed to score against Surbiton at Sugden Road in the regular season to four games since Reading won 2-1 in Elmbridge in October 2013 and Surbiton beat Reading 4-0 for the second time at home having won their first ever Premier Division game in September 2012.
Reading attacked at the start and had a second minute shot before Surbiton counter attacked and Reading needed Lizzie Neal and Abbie Dixon in defence.
Sophie Hamilton had a shot saved by Amy Tennant and Darcy Bourne shot past the left post, visiting captain Lucie Daman preventing another Hamilton effort in an attacking first quarter.
The breakthrough came in the 17th minute after Martha Le Huray forced Surbiton's first penalty corner of the match. Giselle Ansley found the backboard in trademark fashion to put the home team ahead.
Hannah Martin marked her return to the squad with a 23rd minute goal to double Surbiton's lead, Izzy Petter's pass smacked against the backboard in defiant fashion by Martin.
In the 30th minute, Surbiton's penalty corner routine earned their third goal with Jess Dyson poking home a rebound with an outstretched stick at close range after Tennant saved Ansley's initial drag-flick. A minute before the interval, Martin was frustrated as her shot careered over the crossbar as Surbiton tried to be clinical.
Three minutes after half time, Petter added Surbiton's fourth, firing home from the right of the circle to put the reigning league champions in complete control.
That turned out to be the end of the scoring, but not the end of their opportunities as Surbiton forced a string of penalty corners between the 41st and 45th minutes, Tennant denying Martin and Leah Wilkinson in quick succession before Darcy Bourne unluckily missed the ball while trying to press home the advantage from their fifth award.
Ellie De Heer was also unlucky as her shot went over the crossbar. Reading had two penalty opportunities in the second half but Sabbie Heesh was equal to the task in the quest for another clean sheet.
In another attack centred fourth quarter, Hamilton set up a chance for Bourne to shoot past the right post; Amy Costello and Wilkinson combined only to be thwarted by Dixon and Martin pulled the ball back for Bourne, only for Tennant to make another save.
The game ended after Surbiton failed to convert their twelfth penalty corner of the match in added on time, but both teams bounced back in opposite directions, Surbiton recovering from their first defeat of the season at Wimbledon and Reading coming down to earth after last week's high of beating the University of Birmingham 4-1.
Wimbledon remain a point behind Surbiton after they won 2-0 at Buckingham, who are now four points adrift at the bottom of the table rom Reading. Beeston also stay two points off top spot following their 2-0 home win over the University of Birmingham.
Hampstead & Westminster thrashed the University of Nottingham 8-2 and Clifton Robinsons lost ground following their 3-1 loss at Loughborough Students, who move above Reading to increase Buckingham's points deficit. East Grinstead moved up to fifth above Clifton Robinsons with a 4-2 home win over Holcombe.
Holcombe are Surbiton's next opponents on 5 November, push back at Sugden Road is 4 pm, to be followed by Surbiton Men hosting the University of Nottingham at 6.30 pm.