M1 To Meet East Grinstead In Super 6s Semi-Final
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men finished top of the Super Sixes Premier Division table to earn a semi-final meeting with fourth-placed East Grinstead at the Copper Box on 30 January.
Surbiton won two tight matches on Sunday against Sevenoaks (4-3) and Hampstead & Westminster (7-6) to finish three points clear of Hampstead, who will meet third-placed Wimbledon.
In the Sevenoaks match, both teams scored in the sixth minute, Jamie Golden's opener immediately replied to by the Kent club's Kieran Walton. The teams were still level at half time, but with a 2-2 scoreline, Golden having restored Surbiton's lead in the tenth minute only for Ben Allberry to restore parity three minutes before the break.
Jack Middleton put Surbiton ahead for a third time in the 26th minute, Allberry on target again at the start of the fourth quarter before Golden struck in the 32nd minute with what turned out to be the deciding goal.
By the time that Surbiton met Hampstead in the final game of the competition, they knew that any result other than a Hampstead win would see Surbiton finish top of the table.
Matches against Hampstead have always been hard fought and this particular meeting didn't disappoint with the final result in doubt to the end following a goal fest of six goals in four minutes in the fourth quarter.
When Surbiton led 3-0 after 14 minutes, Golden, Tim Nurse and Middleton all scoring from open play, they seemed to be in control. Hampstead, however had other ideas and following Teague Marcano's penalty stroke three minutes before half time, Hampstead turned the match around to lead 5-3 with just six minutes to play.
Steve Kelly scored in the 24th minute with Marcano equalising from the penalty spot four minutes later, before James Sutcliffe and Josh Kelly put Hampstead 5-3 up with goals in the 32nd and 34th minutes.
Just two minutes later, the scores were locked at 6-6, Arjan Drayton Chana and Golden levelling the score at 5-5 with a double strike in the 35th minute before in the next minute, the teams exchanged goals, Middleton incredibly putting Surbiton 6-5 ahead before Steve Kelly equalised for Hampstead.
Jonny Gall scored the winning goal in the 37th minute to give Surbiton a thrilling 7-6 win and confirm their status as the top team in the Premier Division.
Sevenoaks missed out on a semi-final place after a narrow 2-1 loss to Hampstead and as expected, Brooklands Manchester University and Reading were relegated to Division One and will be replaced by Old Georgians and the University of Exeter next season.
Golden finished as the Premier Division's leading goalscorer with 20 goals, just edging out Wimbledon's Ed Horler on 19.
More information about the Premier Division, including match sheets and competition statistics can be found at the England Hockey Altius website here