Men’s 1s 4 - 4 Wimbledon 1s (H)
(3-1 after penalty shootout)
By Mark Pearn
Surbiton M1s met Wimbledon for the final match in Phase 3 to decide who would win Pool B and progress to the playoff semi finals next weekend on a high.
As with their two previous meetings this season, in which Surbiton won both by one goal, the game was expected to be a close contest, and so proved as both sides started strongly and created chances in Q1.
After seeing the ball cleared off the Wimbledon goal line and slightly against the run of play, Ben Francis was left unmarked in the circle. His topped shot looped agonisingly over a stranded James Mazarelo in the home goal to give the visitors the lead after 12 minutes. Surbiton responded strongly and equalised through their captain David Goodfield at the start of Q2, picking up a loose ball in the circle and finishing smartly after good work from Rob Farrington and Arjan Drayton-Chana.
Wimbledon retook the lead two minutes before halftime after Rhys Bradshaw reacted fastest following a smart save from Mazarelo to put away the rebound. Surbiton was not behind for long as they equalised two minutes later when Ben Park unselfishly passed to Rob Farrington to give him an open net, and he duly scored his sixth goal of the season to send the teams in level at the break.
The same pattern continued in the second half as Wimbledon went ahead again, this time through Ed Horler's finish after another Mazarelo close save. Surbiton equalised from their third penalty corner in the 46th minute as Luke Taylor scored his 13th goal of the season, bringing the teams level for a third time. Frustratingly for the home side, Horler scored another rebound three minutes later to put Wimbledon ahead for the fourth time in the match, as lapses in concentration from Surbiton's defence continued to be punished by the visitors.
Surbiton finally found their stride in Q4 and dominated the possession and territory but could not get back on terms as the end of the match approached. With five minutes left, the home side won a penalty corner. Despite some impressive number-one running from Wimbledon's defence, Tom Sorsby sent a deflection high into the roof of the net from the sixth re-award to send an exciting match to a shootout.
Surbiton won the shootout 3-1 to take the top spot in Pool B and set up a Finals Weekend semi final against Holcombe at Sugden Road on Saturday 1st April.