Late Elliott PC Earns Win At Wimbledon To Keep L1 Top
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies left it late before securing all three points against Wimbledon with a 1-0 win at Raynes Park High School on Saturday afternoon.
Steph Elliott's penalty corner conversion with three minutes to play ended Wimbledon's hopes of beating the league leaders for the third week running and Wimbledon's hopes of going top themselves.
With Sabbie Heesh, Darcy Bourne and Sophie Hamilton out in Argentina representing England in their first FIH Pro League match after Great Britain had participated in the previous editions, Surbiton added goalkeeper Tess Shahbo, Taz Cookman and Pippi Spawforth to their squad. Eloise Stenner returned after missing the home game against Beeston.
After Storm Eunice on Friday, rain stopped just in time for the push back with the sun even making an appearance during the game.
Having been dominated early in their matches at Clifton Robinsons and at home to Beeston, it was Surbiton's turn to take the early initiative in a match which saw plenty of attacking play but defences on top in the circle.
Holly Payne and Sarah Evans combined only to be stopped, Alice Sharp shot past the right post and in response, Susannah Townsend's long ball went harmlessly over Surbiton's backline.
Surbiton were awarded a tenth minute penalty corner before the decision was reversed, Wimbledon winning a penalty corner of their own within a minute, Shahbo saving from Kate Maxey.
Georgie Twigg made a penetrating run before Kate Axford defended well for Wimbledon, whilst Anna Reynolds went on a dribbling run of her own, but defences remained on top.
Leah Wilkinson made a diving tackle to send the ball towards the sideline to stop a home attack and Wimbledon's goalkeeper Nicki Cochrane saved when Surbiton were finally awarded a penalty corner three minutes before half time.
There was a flurry of cards in the first ten minutes of the third quarter with Wimbledon captain Harriet Naismith given a two minute break in the 41st minute followed by Suzy Petty seeing yellow and Surbiton's Lottie Ross green in quick succession in the 45th minute.
Just as in the previous match with Beeston, a mistrapped injection from a penalty corner almost set up a counter attack, Wimbledon's Sarah Jones attacking down the left.
Maddie Long was unlucky to see her shot from Surbiton's third penalty corner deflected for a long corner.
But Surbiton were to fare better in the 67th minute, Elliott, who had made a goal-line save from Wimbledon's second penalty corner in the 27th minute, eluding Cochrane with a perfect drag-flick to give Surbiton the lead in only the second league meeting between the teams.
Surbiton's win ended Wimbledon's run of five successive wins and opened up a narrow gap of one point over East Grinstead at the top of the Vitality Women's Hockey League Top 6, East Grinstead winning 3-0 at home to Hampstead & Westminster, who failed to score for the first time in a Premier Division match.
Fifth placed Beeston beat Sixth placed Clifton Robinsons 3-2 in Bristol, coming back from 2-0 down.
With Buckingham and Swansea competing indoors in Europe, Holcombe won 5-2 at Loughborough Students in the only match in the Botttom 5, to move up to eighth, above Loughborough.
Next Saturday, Surbiton host East Grinstead in a top of the table clash and will want to build on their 2-1 win in West Sussex in Phase One.