M1 Miss Out On Europe In Spite Of Win
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men missed out on European qualification in spite of winning 4-2 at Hampstead & Westminster due to Wimbledon ending Old Georgians' unbeaten home record with a 3-2 win at St. George's College.
Surbiton finished third in the Men's Hockey League Premier Division, two points behind second-placed Wimbledon and ten points ahead of fourth-placed Hampstead.
At Paddington Recreation Ground on a warm day, but with a cooling and blustery wind, Surbiton made the perfect start, taking the lead from their first penalty corner of the match in the fourth minute, James Gall putting away a rebound.
Surbiton's second goal came in the 24th minute, Alex Williams scoring from the left of the circle to put the visitors in control.
Hampstead goalkeeper Toby Reynolds-Cotterill was in fine form saving from Rob Farrington after James Gall brought down an overhead pass and Joe Sharp was in perfect position to defend after Rob Farrington and Sam Spencer combined to form a threatening attack.
Hampstead trailed 2-0 at half time and conceded a third goal in the 39th minute, Ben Boon scoring with a superb volley shot into the net.
There followed an exchange of goals in the 44th and 45th minutes after Rhodri Furlong pulled a goal back from open play before Luke Taylor's drag-flick from Surbiton's third penalty corner made the score 4-1 and allowed Taylor to join Hampstead's Matt Guise-Brown, not in the home squad for the final game of the season, due to his selection for South Africa for their FIH Pro League matches in Argentina, on 21 goals for the campaign.
Guise-Brown, very much Hampstead's penalty corner specialist, wouldn't have had the opportunity to add to his tally as Hampstead did not win any penalty corners during the match and Luke Taylor was denied the outright lead from Surbiton's fourth and final penalty corner in the 51st minute.
Trailing 4-1 with seven minutes to play, Hampstead elected to replace Reynolds-Cotterill with an extra outfield player but the tactic only worked once, Sam French scoring from open play in the penultimate minute to make the final score 4-2 in a game which was similar to the corresponding Women's match in early March when Surbiton led 4-1 before Hampstead scored late to also complete a 4-2 victory for Surbiton.
Luke Taylor and Matt Guise-Brown were joint top scorers in the Men's Premier Division as Ed Horler on 20 goals didn't score at Old Georgians, but Old Georgians' Sam Ward netted a brace to join Horler on 20 goals, a feat even more remarkable considering Ward missed part of the season with injury.
Hampstead held off Holcombe's challenge for fourth place as Holcombe beat East Grinstead 7-4 in Kent to join Hampstead on 32 points but with a seven inferior goal difference.
In the Bottom Five, Durham University were relegated to Division One after losing 4-1 at home to Oxted. Even if they had won, it wouldn't have been enough as the University of Exeter won 6-2 at Oxted to preserve their top flight status.