L1 Second After 3-1 Win At Clifton Robinsons
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies moved up to second in the Top Six section of Phase Two of the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division following their 3-1 win at Clifton Robinsons on Saturday afternoon.
Surbiton are second behind new leaders East Grinstead on goal difference after Hampstead & Westminster lost their second successive Premier Division match, 2-1 at Wimbledon having lost 3-2 at Surbiton in the final game of Phase One.
East Grinstead won 2-1 at Beeston for the second time this season to go top.
Hampstead dropped to third on goal difference behind Surbiton with the top three teams all on 27 points.
On their last visit to Bristol at the University of the West of England, Surbiton had clinched promotion by winning the Super 6s Division One title and on their return, Surbiton showed Super 6s form outdoors by storming into a 3-0 lead after just 12 minutes.
However, Clifton had taken the initiative at Coombe Dingle, dominating possession for the first three minutes before Surbiton mounted an attack on the home goal, Sophie Hamilton running towards goal before defiantly blasting the ball past Aline De Visser in the fourth minute.
Two minutes later, Clifton were caught out a second time as Martha Le Huray finished from close range to give Surbiton the perfect start to their Top Six campaign.
In the 12th minute, Leah Wilkinson's deft deflection eluded De Visser from Surbiton's first penalty corner after Sarah Evans had set up a scoring chance for Darcy Bourne, De Visser saving before the penalty corner was awarded.
The game slowed down after the initial goal fest in spite of Georgie Twigg running towards goal, Eloise Stenner forcing another save from De Visser after good support play from Holly Payne and Meg Dowthwaite just unable to convert after a defence penetrating pass from Alice Sharp.
Clifton Robinsons had another setback five minutes before half time when Eloise Laity had to be helped off the pitch due to injury, Surbiton leading 3-0 at half time.
In the third quarter, Dowthwaite was unlucky a second time after diving towards goal in an effort to turn the ball in from a pass from Le Huray and Sabbie Heesh was called upon to make a save early in the quarter as Clifton tried to find a way back into the match.
In the 42nd minute, Surbiton had to defend Clifton's only penalty corner of the match with Claire Jones unable to convert and three minutes later, Livvy Hoskins shot over the bar.
Maddie Long shot past the right post for Surbiton and Phoebe Richards calmly brought the ball out of defence as the visitors carried their three goal advantage into the fourth quarter.
The final period had mixed fortunes for Clifton as they pulled a goal back through Hoskins in the 58th minute, but lost former Surbiton player Holly Munro with eight minutes remaining after she went down in the circle.
Clifton gamely defended two successive penalty corners, but Stenner still clipped the left post from the second award as Surbiton sought a fourth goal and Long and Hamilton couldn't find the target in the last five minutes, but Surbiton came away from Bristol with all three points for the eighth time in ten visits to Coombe Dingle and left Clifton still searching for their first home win over the Sugden Road club.
Surbiton's next match is at home to Beeston on 12 February (push back 1.30 pm).