M1 Beat University Of Nottingham 7-2
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men closed the gap at the top of the table to a mere minus three goal difference compared to Old Georgians with both teams locked on 27 points with one match remaining in 2023 in the Men's Hockey League Premier Division.
Surbiton beat the University of Nottingham 7-2 at Sugden Road on Saturday evening after Old Georgians won 4-2 at Oxted meaning Old Georgians have a goal difference of plus 47 compared with Surbiton's plus 44. Next weekend, Old Georgians host Southgate whilst Surbiton visit East Grinstead as the Elmbridge rivals battle to finish Phase One on top of the Premier Division table.
Most of the match at Sugden Road and all nine goals can be seen via the Surbiton Hockey Club channel on You Tube here
Both teams and the spectators paid their respects over Remembrance Sunday weekend by observing a two minute silence before the match.
Nottingham had lost all nine previous games but took the lead in the fifth minute, Hugh Page threading the ball for Dan Hunt to put the visitors ahead against the form book, Surbiton having conceded just one goal in their previous five games against the other Nottingham club, Beeston at Nottingham Hockey Centre in a 9-1 win.
Surbiton responded a minute later, Struan Walker equalising by touching the ball in from in front of goal. In the eighth minute, James Gall's through pass found Ben Park whose weaving run into the 23 and then into the circle saw the ball smashed into the net in emphatic fashion to give the hosts a 2-1 lead.
Alex Williams added Surbiton's third goal from short range in the ninth minute as the Nottingham defence conceded three goals in a four minute spell against a team determined to finish clinically.
Walker scored his second goal of the match in the 16th minute at the right post to leave Nottingham shell shocked and trailing 4-1 at the end of the first quarter.
Nottingham fell further behind in the 19th minute when James Gall's pass was deflected by Louis Gittens against the backboard for Surbiton's fifth goal.
Surbiton still led 5-1 at half time, but threatened again in the 38th minute, Williams hanging in front of goal before steering the ball into the left sideboard as Nottingham trailed 6-1.
Nottingham continued to battle and were rewarded in the 44th minute with a second goal, Ben Shardlow slipping the ball past James Mazarelo when he came out to try and stop the attack.
Walker completed his hat-trick and the scoring in the 50th minute putting the ball away from short range with Nottingham able to go through the fourth quarter without conceding as the game finished 7-2 to Surbiton.
Old Georgians' match at Oxted had started 90 minutes earlier and although Charlie Axford gave Oxted an early lead, Old Georgians fought back to lead 3-1 through James Carson, Elliot Messem and Sam Ward. Jake Bennett reduced the deficit to 3-2 before Alan Forsyth sealed the win six minutes from time.
Holcombe remain three points behind the top two and also helped their goal difference with a 6-0 home win over Cardiff & Met. Alex Pendle and Phil Roper both scored twice with Hayden Phillips and Tom Russell also scoring.
Wimbledon, Hampstead & Westminster and Southgate all booked their places in the Top Six with one game to spare after winning in the penultimate round of matches.
Wimbledon beat Reading 3-1 at home, Rory Patterson, Jack Waller and Ben Francis scoring for the London club with Ben Hooper replying for Reading.
Matt Guise-Brown scored twice as Hampstead won 4-2 at Beeston, Josh Kelly and Jolyon Morgan also on target for the visitors. Jamie Rawlings scored both Beeston goals.
Southgate beat East Grinstead 9-1, Matt Ramshaw scoring twice. Kwan Browne, Richmond Lum, Rohan Bhuhi, Will Calnan, Sam Paterson, Jack Middleton and Daniel West also contributed to the massive win with Jack Webb scoring the West Sussex club's consolation goal.
East Grinstead then hosted Reading in a rearranged game on Sunday and won 3-2, thanks to Thomas Tyers and two penalty strokes from Simon Faulkner. Reading had led 2-0 through Tom Minall and George Fletcher.
As next week's matches are the final round of Phase One, all games will start at 6 pm.