L1 Go Eight Points Clear Of Wimbledon After 2-1 Victory
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies ended Wimbledon's unbeaten league record with a 2-1 win at Sugden Road on Saturday evening, but in the process conceded their first goal at home after 466 minutes of seasonal play.
Surbiton now lead second-placed Wimbledon by eight points, but Hampstead & Westminster and East Grinstead are only a point further back in third and fourth respectively as Phase 2 of the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division got underway after the winter break.
Wimbledon were aiming for a league double after beating Surbiton for the first time in October, also by a 2-1 margin but under the Sugden Road floodlights, play started scrappily with both teams struggling to gain a foothold.
In the fifth minute, Hannah Martin found Darcy Bourne in the Wimbledon circle, but although the initial attack was defended, a follow-up attack saw Martin put away a rebound after Nicki Cochrane made a save under pressure.
Wimbledon had the opportunity to respond quickly but Jen Eadie's eighth minute penalty corner shot came to nothing as the visitors tried to find an equaliser.
Both teams struggled to come to terms with the somewhat milder temperature than on recent evenings, making unforced errors in attempts to quickly outwit each other's defences.
Anna Toman defended well against Sophie Hamilton in the first quarter and Surbiton were frustrated when Alice Sharp tried to slip the ball through the Wimbledon defence but the ball went harmlessly over Wimbledon's back-line.
The second quarter saw Izzy Petter's cross from the right easily defended by Wimbledon and Hamilton fire the ball at height into the right side netting. Surbiton had to wait until the 19th minute to win their first penalty corner but Giselle Ansley's shot was defended at the expense of a long corner whilst a second penalty corner saw Ansley's powerful shot go past the right post.
Ansley fired wide right of the goal from Surbiton's third penalty corner early in the third quarter, but Wimbledon's third penalty corner proved third time lucky after their second was easily defended. A well manoeuvred routine in the 46th minute ended with Flora Peel becoming the first player to breach the Surbiton defence at Sugden Road this season and restore Wimbledon's hopes of a league double over their local rivals.
Instead, the winning goal came in the 52nd minute, Hamilton converting Surbiton's fourth penalty corner at the right post for her eleventh goal of the campaign as Surbiton beat Wimbledon at home for the first time ever, the previous meeting ending in a 1-1 draw.
Surbiton could have added further goals in the fourth quarter as Martin shot over the bar and Ansley's shot from the hosts' fifth and final penalty corner was defended for a long corner but Surbiton then protected their lead by possessing the ball in the corner to run down the clock to secure their eleventh win in twelve matches.
Hampstead & Westminster missed the chance to go second after they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Clifton Robinsons. Livvy Hoskins and Eloise Laity put Clifton ahead twice but Sarah Robertson and Anna O'Flanagan earned a point.
East Grinstead kept up their record of winning on every Premier Division visit to Nottingham Hockey Centre when the won 7-1 against Beeston. Tess Howard scored a hat-trick, Laura Unsworth netted twice, Ellie Rayer scored for the fourth successive time away to Beeston and Amelia Tait was also on target for the West Sussex side, whilst Beeston's consolation goal came from Sophie Robinson.
In the Lower Six, Loughborough are a point ahead of Reading after Suzie Carter and Becca Malyon earned the Students a 2-0 win at the University of Nottingham.
Reading were held to a 2-2 draw by Holcombe, Lizzie Neal scoring twice for Reading whilst Sofia Viarengo and Emma Bandurak scored for Holcombe.
Buckingham couldn't repeat their earlier victory over the University of Birmingham and went down 3-1 in the Second City, Caroline Spence scoring their goal. Lexie Clark, Izzy Lander and Betsan Thomas kept Birmingham within three points of Loughborough.
Surbiton are without a fixture next weekend as East Grinstead are competing in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy in Cambrai, France meaning the league fixture has been rescheduled for 4th March.
Surbiton next visit Bristol on 25th February when they take on Clifton Robinsons at Coombe Dingle at 12 noon.