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15th April 2022

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Ladies crashed out of the ABN AMRO EHL FINAL8 on a day to forget in the Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam on Friday morning.

Surbiton lost 2-1 to Belgian club Gantoise, but will be frustrated after conceding a penalty stroke in the first minute, having to play with ten players for the last nine minutes due to Steph Elliott being shown a red card after receiving two yellow cards and hitting the post from their only penalty corner.

The only real highlight was Darcy Bourne's stunning equaliser from the edge of the circle in the eleventh minute.

Gantoise took the game to Surbiton from the start with Sabbie Heesh called into action after just twenty seconds, but worse was to follow after Leah Wilkinson was caught in possession by Ambre Ballenghien, who was fouled when running towards goal in a one on one situation to give Gantoise a penalty stroke.

Stephanie Vanden Borre dispatched the ball into the bottom left corner to give Gantoise a lead after just 58 seconds.

Surbiton were then put under heavy pressure with Noa Schreurs firing past the left post after Emilie Sinia set up the chance; Marie Lanckneus forcing a save from Heesh and Stephanie Vanden Borre's shot going wide of the right post, all in the first eight minutes.

Eloise Stenner nullified Gantoise's penalty corner threat, breaking up the Belgian club's first award in the ninth minute.

Having weathered the early storm, Surbiton levelled in the 11th minute, Bourne finding the backboard from the edge of the circle to back up her status as the top scorer in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division. 

But a team in never as vulnerable as when they have just scored, with Gantoise proving the point in emphatic fashion, Sinia sending the ball into the roof of the Surbiton net a minute later to restore the Belgian club's lead.

Surbiton were struggling by making several errant passes and they were nearly made to pay in the 21st minute when Robyn Collins' pass led to Ballenghien shooting over the crossbar.

Things went from bad to worse in the third quarter when during a sequence of four Gantoise penalty corners, Gantoise kept their referral following a foot query but Surbiton lost theirs when a shot was not judged dangerous when striking Wilkinson's hand.

Surbiton survived but the sequence of penalty corners started as a result of Elliott's foul on Ballenghien which saw her receive her first yellow card and was to lead to her leaving the field permanently  for the last nine minutes and eleven seconds following a foul on Lara Oviedo which earned her a second yellow card and consequently a red card.

In the fourth quarter, Stenner struck the left post from Surbiton's only penalty corner of the match and although Georgie Twigg had a shot saved by Gantoise goalkeeper, Pauline De Ryck and Surbiton, in spite of being a player down, put pressure on Gantoise in the dying minutes until the Belgian club finally managed to run out the clock.

Surbiton will play Pegasus of Ireland in the Ranking Match at 1030 BST on Saturday. Pegasus lost 9-0 to Dutch club 's-Hertogenbosch in their KO8 match.