L1 Hold Five Point Lead After 2-0 Win At Hampstead
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies extended their lead at the top of the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division to five points with a 2-0 win at Hampstead & Westminster whilst Wimbledon and Beeston drew 0-0 at Nottingham Hockey Centre.
Hampstead had gone four games unbeaten since they had lost 3-1 at home to Wimbledon on 8 October, but Surbiton completed a hat-trick of Premier Division victories at Paddington Recreation Ground to increase their advantage at the top of the table.
On a mild November afternoon in Central London, Surbiton forced a penalty corner after just 21 seconds, only for Giselle Ansley's shot to be blocked.
However, Surbiton duly took the lead in the third minute with a goal which somehow eluded both Darcy Bourne's touch in front of goal and Hampstead goalkeeper Roxy Gianfrancesco, Steph Elliott's shot from the edge of the circle defying not only the laws of physics but also logic itself as it ended up in the goal to the visitors' delight.
Ironically in the reverse fixture last season at Sugden Road in March, it had been Hampstead who took the lead in the third minute through Grace Balsdon's penalty stroke before going on to win 2-0.
At times, attacking was from end to end, but the difference between the teams was that Hampstead struggled to find the finishing touch whilst Surbiton, having scored a goal which the hosts would have been frustrated to concede; doubled their lead with an excellent passing move, Hannah Martin and Sophie Hamilton combining before Hamilton finished in style in the 24th minute.
Hampstead had also had a shot blocked from their first penalty corner in the 14th minute.
Defences were on top in the second half with Hampstead failing to score from their second and last penalty corner of the match in the 42nd minute. Gianfrancesco saved from Holly Payne, Martha Le Huray and Bourne with Balsdon and Olivia Hamilton defending well against Le Huray and Jess Dyson.
Hannah Martin ran against the Hampstead defence but as the floodlights started to take full effect under the darkening skies, it was Surbiton who came away with the win.
Wimbledon and Beeston are second and third after their goalless draw with Hampstead in fourth.
East Grinstead moved up to third ahead of Beeston on goal difference thanks to their 2-1 win at Reading on Sunday lunchtime.
Clifton Robinsons are sixth after they lost their first ever national league meeting at home to the University of Nottingham 2-1. Loughborough Students joined Clifton on eleven points following their 2-1 win at Holcombe.
And Buckingham won for the first time this season with a 2-0 home victory over the University of Nottingham.
Surbiton travel to Nottingham next Saturday to play their final away game of the season at Beeston, push back 2 pm.