M1 Beat Beeston 5-1
By Colin Pike
Surbiton beat Beeston 5-1 in their final Men's Hockey League Premier Division match of 2022 at Sugden Road on Sunday afternoon.
The defeat ended Beeston's hopes of a sixth place finish as Reading, in spite of losing 4-3 at home to Hampstead & Westminster, held on to sixth place as Oxted also lost, 3-1 at home to East Grinstead.
With the top five all winning, the order in the Top Six didn't change with Old Georgians leading Surbiton by five points after a 6-2 home win over bottom club, Brooklands Manchester University; Wimbledon in third a point behind Surbiton after a massive 12-1 away win at the University of Nottingham with Hampstead & Westminster in fourth. Fifth placed Holcombe opened up an eight point lead over sixth placed Reading thanks to their 7-1 home win over the University of Exeter.
Beeston were without joint leading goalscorer and former Surbiton player, Jamie Golden due to injury and needed a win to have a chance of finishing in the Top Six and the Nottingham club attacked at the start forcing a save from Surbiton goalkeeper James Mazarelo and rattling the crossbar in an attempt to take the initiative.
Surbiton had an early injury scare when Arjan Drayton Chana limped off the pitch in the third minute, but fortunately, he was able to return to the pitch.
In front of the attendees of the President's Day lunch, Surbiton took the lead in the 12th minute, Alex Williams sending the ball into the left inside sideboard while diving towards goal to divert the ball past Beeston goalkeeper Simon Hujwan.
Beeston had the opportunity of an instant reply as they quickly forced a penalty corner, but couldn't convert before Surbiton put together some excellent passing moves but couldn't add to their lead before the half time interval.
Tom Sorsby caused problems in the Beeston defence with runs towards goal, but Surbiton struggled in the second quarter when in good attacking positions, passing the ball across the circle only to find no home forward was in position to threaten the Beeston goal.
Surbiton didn't force a single penalty corner in the first half but they were to make amends in a strong second half. After Jamie Rawlings bravely blocked Luke Taylor's shot from the hosts' first penalty corner, Taylor made no mistake from the re-award to double Surbiton's lead in the 43rd minute.
Ten minutes later and immediately before the end of the third quarter, Gareth Furlong followed suit to give Surbiton a commanding 3-0 lead as Beeston's hopes of a Top Six finish evaporated alarmingly.
Taylor added Surbiton's fourth goal in the 59th minute with another trademark penalty corner conversion before Tim Nurse's spectacular open play finish from the right of the circle in the 62nd minute was followed by an equally spectacular celebration as Surbiton built up a 5-0 lead.
Beeston scored what turned out to be a consolation goal with five minutes remaining, Henry Croft spoiling James Mazarelo's target of finishing 2022 with a clean sheet, Croft converting a penalty stroke to make the final score 5-1.
Surbiton will now focus on their 2023 Super 6s Championships campaign when they aim to improve on last season's semi-final shootout defeat to East Grinstead after finishing top of the Premier Division table.
Surbiton will compete over the weekends of 7/8 and 14/15 January 2023 at Whitgift School in Croydon. The other eight teams in the division will be East Grinstead, Hampstead & Westminster, Holcombe, Old Georgians, Repton, Sevenoaks, University of Exeter and Wimbledon.