L1 Open Up Two Point Gap After Win Over University of Nottingham
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies opened up a two point lead at the top of the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division following their 4-0 home win over the University of Nottingham on Saturday.
Surbiton maintained their one hundred per cent record and kept their third successive clean sheet and have now gone 231 minutes since they last conceded a goal at home to Wimbledon in the last game of the 2021-22 season.
Clifton Robinsons dropped back after losing 2-1 at the University of Birmingham, leaving Beeston and Wimbledon as Surbiton's nearest challengers.
Reserve goalkeeper, Delphine Ayley Hammond was named in the sixteen player squad but Sabbie Heesh was in goal for the whole match.
In late afternoon sunshine, Surbiton initially struggled to find their rhythm against a University of Nottingham squad, before making the all important breakthrough towards the end of the first half and adding three further goals after half time.
Although Hannah Martin had an early shot saved by visiting goalkeeper, Lucy Brown, Nottingham successfully forced three penalty corners in the first quarter but Jordan Homann was thwarted in her attempt to become the first player to score aginst Surbiton this season. Surbiton made several unforced errors in a scrappy first quarter when the ball wouldn't fall for them.
In the second quarter, things began to improve with Steph Elliott and Alice Wills combining only for Emma Stewart to break the move up. Sophie Hamilton ran towards goal before sending the ball over the crossbar. Surbiton had to wait until the 23rd minute for their first penalty corner, but a mix-up saw the ball speed out of the circle and unintentionally set up a Nottingham counter attack before the situation was rescued and a Surbiton counter attack ended up with Leah Wilkinson's shot going past the left post.
The momentum was with Surbiton as Izzy Petter and Alice Sharp both had shots on goal before Darcy Bourne found the backboard in the 31st minute to give the hosts the lead.
Surbiton's penalty corner routine also improved as Giselle Ansley's drag-flick doubled Surbiton's lead in the 42nd minute from their second award and in the 56th minute, Surbiton's third penalty corner saw Ansley's drag-flick deftly deflected by Wilkinson to give Surbiton a commanding lead.
The final goal came in the penultimate minute, Bourne scoring her second goal of the game from short range to leave Nottingham looking for their first goal and point outside Nottingham, having played their first two games of the season, including an away match against Beeston, at Nottingham Hockey Centre.
Beeston beat Reading 3-1 and Wimbledon also won 3-1 at Hampstead & Westminster to both go two points behind Surbiton.
The University of Birmingham and Clifton Robinsons are both on six points and they were joined by East Grinstead who secured their second victory of the season with a 4-0 win at Loughborough Students.
Holcombe won their first match of the season with a 3-1 home win over Buckingham, who are bottom of the table on goal difference from Reading as the only two teams still searching for their first points of the season.
Surbiton visit Stowe School next Saturday (12 noon) to face Buckingham. The teams met once last season in Phase One and Buckingham scored late to earn a 2-2 draw at Sugden Road.