L1 Suffer First Defeat Of Season At Wimbledon
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies suffered their first defeat of the 2022-23 Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division season on Saturday afternoon, when they lost 2-1 at local rivals Wimbledon.
Wimbledon's victory at Raynes Park High School saw them cut Surbiton's lead to one point and leapfrog Clifton Robinsons into second place after the Bristol club could only draw 1-1 with East Grinstead.
Clifton Robinsons and Beeston, who won 3-1 at Holcombe, are level on ten points, two points behind Surbiton in third and fourth place respectively.
With some players unavailable due to the half term break, Surbiton gave a debut to Pip Stewart and saw Ellie De Heer back in the first team squad for the first time since February 2016, when she played at East Grinstead.
Wimbledon got off to the perfect start, taking the lead in the third minute as Megan Crowson slotted a penalty stroke past Sabbie Heesh to the delight of the home supporters.
Trying to find the equaliser, Surbiton found the Wimbledon defence hard to break down before Sophie Hamilton, De Heer and Alice Wills combined well only to concede a free hit and Lottie Ross just failed to touch the ball into goal from a penetrating pass. Home goalkeeper Nicki Cochrane was equal to Darcy Bourne's effort in the 12th minute as light rain started to fall.
Surbiton had to wait until the second quarter to win their first penalty corner, a mis-trapped injection recovered before an follow up penalty corner was awarded. Wimbledon's Flora Peel was alert and dispossessed Surbiton's Amy Costello to set up a counter attack, Surbiton regaining possession to win a third penalty corner, Cochrane saving from Ansley.
Wimbledon did not concede any further penalty corners during the match, but they did concede an equalising goal in the 23rd minute, Cochrane saving from Izzy Petter, only for Bourne to put away the rebound to bring the visitors level.
Wimbledon's winning goal came in the 40th minute shortly after Beth Bingham was tackled by Robyn Collins. The hosts won possession back with Fiona Burnet finding the backboard from close range.
With Wimbledon ahead, a heavier shower of rain fell for the players to contend with as Surbiton went close to equalising a second time, Bourne being denied by Cochrane with a subsequent shot going over the home crossbar.
Hamilton shot past the left post whilst Fiona Crackles just missed out on a potential goal of the season following a long run towards the Surbiton goal. Petter was frustrated as Bingham won possession back twice in quick succession towards the end of the third quarter and Wimbledon missed a chance to extend their lead in added on time as they failed to convert their only penalty corner of the match.
Wimbledon's defence proved to be well organised with Anna Toman, Jen Eadie and Crowson all proving to be in the right place at the wrong time for Surbiton, but with seven minutes remaining, play had to be suspended after Anna Reynolds was injured and had to subsequently leave the pitch.
Jess Dyson went close to snatching an equaliser late in the match, but Wimbledon managed to run down the clock successfully and their delight in securing the win was evident to see on the final whistle.
Buckingham are the only team without a point after five matches as they were beaten 8-3 at the University of Nottingham. Loughborough Students stay two points ahead of Buckingham after they lost 3-0 at Hampstead & Westminster.
Reading followed up last week's goalless draw with Holcombe with their first win of the season, 4-1 at home to the University of Birmingham.
Reading are Surbiton's next opponents in the first match of another Men's and Women's double header at Sugden Road next Saturday (29 October). Surbiton Ladies play at 4 pm, followed by Surbiton Men meeting their Reading counterparts at 6 pm.