M1 Win Seven Goal Thriller At Brooklands
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men returned to the top of the Men's Hockey League Premier Division table, but had to battle before beating Brooklands Manchester University 4-3 in the North West.
Surbiton are a point clear of both Old Georgians and Wimbledon, who each have a game in hand having competing in the Euro Hockey League in Hamburg earlier this season.
Wimbledon beat the University of Exeter 4-1 at home on Saturday night whilst Old Georgians had their second successful trip to Nottingham Hockey Centre, having won 8-1 against the University of Nottingham on the opening weekend, they returned to beat Beeston 5-0 when the visitors wore pink shirts to mark their Against Breast Cancer campaign.
Surbiton had been dominant in recent meetings with Brooklands, including winning 12-0 on their last visit in 2019, but the hosts proved more competitive and were determined not to give up until the final whistle.
After a goalless first quarter, Surbiton took the lead in the 20th minute, Louis Gittens scoring from open play.
Brooklands fought back to equalise six minutes later, Dave Flanagan also scoring from open play to leave the teams level at 1-1 at the halfway point.
Surbiton regained the lead in the 39th minute, Gareth Furlong converting a penalty corner. When Gittens struck again in the 48th minute, it seemed that the visitors had earned a breathing space, but Brooklands had other ideas, Stefan Ray-Hills pulling a goal back in the 51st minute to leave all to play for in the fourth quarter.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Furlong converted another penalty corner to restore Surbiton's two goal advantage, but again Brooklands refused to lie down, Dan Vincent giving the home club hope with a third goal in the 57th minute.
Neither side could find another goal in the last 13 minutes as Surbiton edged to another away win at Brooklands, who are still waiting for their first home victory over the Sugden Road club since October 2010, when Dave Flanagan scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory.
Brooklands are two points adrift of both Beeston and East Grinstead, while Oxted and the University of Nottingham's goalless draw lifted them up to eighth and ninth respectively. The last goalless draw in the MHL Premier Division was in November 2018, when Reading drew at Sevenoaks.
Next Saturday, Surbiton make another long trip, this time to the South West to face the University of Exeter for a 5.30 push back.