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EG Halt L1's Run of 8 Successive League Titles


2nd April 2023

By Colin Pike

East Grinstead ended Surbiton's run of eight successive Investec/ Vitality Women's Hockey League titles with a stunning 3-2 victory at Sugden Road on Sunday afternoon.

East Grinstead had finished runners-up to Holcombe in the Conference East when Surbiton had won their first title with a 3-0 victory over Canterbury in 2014 with the West Sussex club becoming the first team other than Surbiton to be declared league champions since Reading in 2013. 

Surbiton had been East Grinstead's first ever top flight opponents at Sugden Road in September 2015 when the teams drew 1-1.

Surbiton's second defeat of the season came at the wrong time and was an immense disappointment, but Leicester had fallen at the final hurdle in 2010, losing 1-0 to Slough in the final after winning 17 and drawing one of their 18 regular season Premier Division games.

East Grinstead had previously only won twice in seventeen meetings with Surbiton and almost a month earlier had lost 8-2 on their own pitch, but having also lost 2-1 at Sugden Road last weekend, turned round both results and the formbook to qualify for next season's Euro Hockey League whilst Surbiton will have to settle for the second-tier Trophy.

East Grinstead took the lead in the tenth minute, Laura Roper converting their first penalty corner of the match with Surbiton goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh banished to the naughty step for five minutes for protesting about the award of the goal. Louisa Bray took over in goal while Surbiton coped with playing with ten players, but after Heesh returned, East Grinstead doubled their lead, breaking away before Anna Faulstich scored from open play to leave Surbiton with work to do at the end of the first quarter.

Surbiton had to wait until the 33rd minute to get back into the match, Leah Wilkinson converting the tournament hosts' second penalty corner to halve East Grinstead's advantage at the half time interval.

Sophie Hamilton seemed to have got Surbiton out of jail in the 39th minute by beating East Grinstead goalkeeper Isabel Field from in front of goal and then the turning point came in the 52nd minute when Surbiton appeared to have taken the lead from their fifth penalty corner before the goal was disallowed following an umpire consultation. East Grinstead's heroine was Sally Sime who struck from open play with just nine minutes remaining to not only give East Grinstead only their second ever win at Sugden Road but the first occasion when East Grinstead had scored more than one goal away to Surbiton.

Surbiton will be heading to Amsterdam to take part in this year's Euro Hockey League. They meet German club Dusseldorfer at 1145 CET (1045 BST) on Friday.

More information about the Euro Hockey League can be found at the EHF Altius website here

Surbiton's Under-18 Girls lifted the Tier 1 Cup by beating Repton 5-2 in Nottingham. Isabella Baileff and Gemma Townsend scored twice with Olivia Martin scoring Surbiton's fifth goal. Phillippa Jowett and Tilly Hinds replied for Repton. Match details can be found via the England Hockey Altius website here

Hampstead & Westminster finished third in the League Finals with a 4-2 victory over Clifton Robinsons in the first match on Sunday morning. Sarah Robertson gave Hampstead a tenth minute lead from the London club's third penalty corner before Amy Burton equalised from open play in the 16th minute.

Hampstead pulled away in the second quarter with Lucy Hyams restoring their lead from their fifth penalty corner in the 27th minute and Grace Balsdon adding a third goal from the penalty spot four minutes later.

Clifton conceded their third penalty stroke of the weekend in the 53rd minute with another clinical Balsdon finish putting Hampstead 4-1 ahead before Livvy Hoskins completed the scoring from Clifton's second penalty corner of the match.