L1 Just Fail To Reach Super 6s Finals Day
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies fell agonisingly close to securing their first ever appearance at the Super 6s Championships Finals Day, but had to settle for fifth place in the Premier Division at Repton School on Sunday.
Results fell their way as fourth placed Buckingham lost 4-3 to East Grinstead and 6-3 to Repton on Sunday, but Surbiton couldn't get the win they needed to qualify, losing narrowly 5-4 to Bowdon and salvaging a 2-2 draw against Slough with a last minute goal.
East Grinstead finished top with 22 points with Repton second on 20. Bowdon will play Repton in the semi-finals after finishing third on 16 points with Buckingham facing East Grinstead courtesy of their fourth place on 13 points.
Surbiton accrued eleven points and will wonder what might have been. With Buckingham having finished their programme before Surbiton played their first match of the day, Surbiton knew exactly what they needed to do to reach the Copper Box Arena.
Surbiton fielded a squad of eight players with Louisa Bray in goal as they aimed to make more history.
Bowdon got off to the perfect start with a second minute Sally Walton penalty conversion, but Surbiton didn't panic and were level at the end of the first quarter, Alice Sharp levelling from the penalty spot in the tenth minute.
The scores were still level at the 12th minute but four minutes later, Bowdon had taken the initiative to lead 4-2. Claudia Swain restored Bowdon's lead from open play in the 13th minute only for Holly Payne to equalise from a penalty corner a minute later. Walton scored twice in the 15th and 16th minutes not only to put Bowdon in the ascendancy but to claim yet another indoor hat-trick.
Steph Elliott pulled a goal back just before half time from open play and when Payne converted her second penalty corner of the game with eight minutes to play it seemed the comeback could be on. But Walton broke Surbiton hearts with another penalty corner conversion in the 39th minute to help her on the way to the Division's Top Scorer title which she achieved with 19 goals over the eight games.
All was not lost as Surbiton knew that a win over Slough in their last game would see them finish fourth. Facing former Surbiton player, Asha Tranquille-Day in the Slough goal, Surbiton suffered a setback at the end of the first quarter, Sarah Parkinson-Mills putting the Berkshire club ahead from a penalty corner.
Surbiton equalised just before half time, Ella Burnley scoring from open play. Surbiton's hopes were in jeopardy in the 29th minute when Anna Baker gave Slough a 2-1 advantage but in spite of Surbiton trying to score two goals to win, Slough only conceded in the 40th minute, Elliott's equaliser coming too late to allow Surbiton to score the needed third goal.
Having only been promoted from Division One last season and having had a history of being relegated straight back to the second tier on their previous appearances in the Premier Division, fifth place is an excellent achievement and the disappointment of not reaching the Copper Box shows how far the team has come.
The relegation battle as expected went down to the wire. Sevenoaks were relegated when they lost their final game to Sutton Coldfield 3-1 and it was Leicester City who made the great escape, Ashpal Bhogal scoring a dramatic last minute penalty corner winner to help Leicester come from behind to beat Sutton Coldfield 2-1 in the final game of the day.
Full details of the Women's Premier Division can be found at the England Hockey Altius website via this link
Sutton Coldfield and Sevenoaks will be replaced by Harleston Magpies and Guildford in next season's Premier Division. Harleston finished a point ahead of Guildford who beat Reading 6-2 in a promotion decider in the penultimate game of the day.
Clifton Robinsons and Cambridge City were relegated to Division Two and the teams to replace them in Division One will be decided next weekend when the top three teams in Division Two North (Beeston, City of York and the University of Birmingham) were due to join the top six in Division Two South (Canterbury, Ipswich and Team Bath Buccaneers) in a six team national division from which the top two teams will be promoted. However, Barnes will compete instead of Ipswich.