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L1 Held At Home By Wimbledon


9th April 2022

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Ladies were held to a 1-1 draw for the second time this season at Sugden Road by Wimbledon, who missed out on European qualification due to unfortunate circumstances at Paddington Recreation Ground. 

Due to a serious injury to an East Grinstead player, the match was delayed and not restarted until 5 pm, when the Surbiton v Wimbledon result was already known. Hampstead & Westminster knew that they had to win to qualify for Europe and beat East Grinstead 3-1 to finish a point ahead of Wimbledon, who dropped from second to third. 

The original plan was that all three Top Six matches would begin at 2 pm to avoid giving any team an advantage, but the situation could not be avoided as medical treatment was required.

At Sugden Road, Wimbledon dominated possession at the start of the game with Sarah Jones finding captain Harriet Naismith, only for her shot to be blocked and Naismith was also unlucky later in the first quarter, unable to turn in a cross from the right while positioned at the left post.

Surbiton gradually started to find their rhythm, Sophie Hamilton, Holly Payne and Darcy Bourne linking up, only for former Surbiton player Hollie Pearne-Webb to nip the attack in the bud using her vast defensive experience.

Taz Cookman battled hard on the left wing in the Wimbledon 23 with Pearne-Webb also thwarting Hamilton and Payne with defences on top, just as they had been when the teams met at Raynes Park High School in February.

Wimbledon had the first penalty corner of the game in the 25th minute after Surbiton's Steph Elliott fouled Wimbledon's Olivia Chilton in the Surbiton 23 but Surbiton managed to defend the set piece, whilst Elliott was seated in the sin-bin after being shown a green card.

Suzy Petty and Fiona Burnet tried to find a way through the Surbiton defence along the left touchline, but the game was still goalless at half time.

Wimbledon forced their second penalty corner just 26 seconds into the third quarter, but Pearne-Webb couldn't get her shot on target and ironically, it was Surbiton's first penalty corner of the match, awarded two minutes later which led to the breakthrough. 

Although the penalty corner didn't directly result in a goal, a penalty stroke was awarded after Hamilton had a shot on goal. Bourne buried the ball into the roof of the net to beat Aurora Mears from the stroke for her 19th goal of the campaign in the 39th minute and the goal was significant as Bourne ended the season as the division's top scorer, one ahead of East Grinstead's Sophie Bray.

Wimbledon, needing a positive result to have any chance of qualifying for Europe, fought back in the 49th minute when Eliza Brett smashed the ball past Sabbie Heesh in the Surbiton goal to level, a reversal of the order when the teams first met at Sugden Road in October, Fiona Crackles giving Wimbledon the lead and Bourne equalising. 

Mears kept Surbiton at bay with saves from penalty corners and Wimbledon's last real chance of earning the all important win came with three minutes remaining but they couldn't convert their fourth penalty corner of the match.

So it was heartbreak for Wimbledon in a season where they had challenged with Hampstead and East Grinstead for the second qualification place, but were unlucky to miss out.

Hampstead will have some consolation after starting the season with nine straight wins only for a dip in form to end their hopes of lifting their first ever Premier Division title.

East Grinstead ended the season with four straight defeats after experiencing problems with player availability. and had to settle for a fourth place finish.

After the game, Surbiton received their medals and the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division trophy.

In the other Top Six game, Beeston drew 3-3 at home to Clifton Robinsons.

In the Bottom 5, Holcombe won 3-2 at the University of Birmingham and Buckingham beat Loughborough Students 2-1 to ensure that Buckingham can still mathematically finish seventh after a six game unbeaten run which started at the end of February and followed a seven game losing streak.