M1 Finish Phase One In Second After 4-1 Win At East Grinstead
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men finished Phase One of the Men's Hockey League Premier Division season in second place behind Old Georgians on goal difference, in spite of winning 4-1 at East Grinstead on Saturday evening.
Old Georgians beat Southgate 6-2 at home to top the table with a plus 51 goal difference compared with Surbiton's plus 47 after both teams won ten and lost just one of their eleven games to finish with 30 points apiece.
The six qualifiers for Top Six in Phase Two were confirmed last week with Holcombe, Wimbledon, Hampstead & Westminster and Southgate all booking their places.
Oxted, Beeston, East Grinstead, Cardiff & Met, Reading and the University of Nottingham will form the lower six with the top two teams joining the Top Six teams in the League Finals after each team has played 16 games overall.
The game at East Grinstead can be watched back via the East Grinstead Hockey TV Channel on You Tube here
The match starts at around the 14 minute mark.
Surbiton went to Saint Hill with hopes over overturning the pre-match three goal difference deficit compared with Old Georgians, but East Grinstead took the game to Surbiton in the early minutes with Surbiton goalkeeper James Mazarelo having to make some early saves to stop the hosts taking a surprise lead.
Surbiton remained patient and took the lead in the eleventh minute from their first penalty corner, Luke Taylor's drag-flick ending up in the top right corner beyond home goalkeeper Richard Curtis to get the visitors off the mark.
Five minutes later, East Grinstead were 2-0 down thanks to a passing move starting just inside the Surbiton half initiated by Stuart Rushmere and Tim Nurse. After a couple of deft passes, Ben Park passed to Struan Walker from the edge of the circle, Walker smashing the ball into the far corner to double Surbiton's lead.
Surbiton were caught out within 30 seconds at the start of the second quarter as East Grinstead fought back. From the restart, East Grinstead attacked down the right before the ball was crossed into the circle with Jack Webb's diagonal shot ending up in the left corner after beating Mazarelo.
A minute later, Surbiton's two goal advantage was restored as Alex Williams smashed the ball into the goal as it seemed that they had a real chance of overtaking Old Georgians' goal difference tally.
However some good East Grinstead defence plus some good saves from Curtis restricted Surbiton to just a fourth goal, Gareth Furlong converting his side's second penalty corner in the 39th minute.
Curtis produced a fine glove save in the 50th minute from Surbiton's fifth and final penalty corner and East Grinstead had two chances to convert a penalty corner in the fourth quarter, but in the end Surbiton had to settle for a 4-1 victory which left them just short of Old Georgians at the top of the table.
However, by scoring four goals in the match, Surbiton completed the set of scoring every score between one and nine inclusive in the first half of the season: 1 v Wimbledon; 2 v Holcombe; 3 at Old Georgians; 4 at East Grinstead; 5 v Hampstead & Westminster; 6 v Oxted; 7 at Southgate and v University of Nottingham; 8 at Cardiff & Met and 9 at Beeston and v Reading.
Sam Ward scored another hat-trick with Alan Forsyth netting twice after James Carson opened the scoring in Old Georgians' win over Southgate. Ward finished Phase One on 25 goals, seven ahead of Surbiton's Walker. Southgate responded through Kwan Browne's fifth penalty stroke of the season and Teague Marcano's penalty corner conversion.
Holcombe finished third, three points behind the top two after a convincing 5-1 win at fifth-placed Hampstead & Westminster. In the battle of the Guise-Browns, Matt scored Hampstead's consolation whilst Tim scored twice for Holcombe. Nick Bandurak, Phil Roper and Tom Russell also scored for the Kent club.
Wimbledon finished fourth but had to battle from 3-1 down to win 4-3 at Cardiff & Met. Jack Pritchard, Matty George and Luke Hawker seemed to have put Cardiff in control at half time, Ben Francis having levelled for Wimbledon, but a second half comeback saw Duncan Scott and Sam Hooper restore parity at 3-3 with Francis breaking Welsh hearts with ten minutes remaining.
Oxted missed out on the Top Six by three points behind Southgate but ensured that the University of Nottingham ended Phase One with no points thanks to a 4-1 win in the East Midlands. Nottingham were in trouble after Oxted led 2-0 in the third minute, Charlie Axford and Bradley Sherwood striking early. Louis Tipper gave the students hope, but Owen Williamson's brace of penalty corner conversions gave the Surrey club all three points.
Beeston moved up to eighth with a 2-0 win at Reading, who ended Phase One in eleventh place, three points ahead of Nottingham and four points behind tenth-placed Cardiff & Met.
Surbiton Men will now focus on the Super Sixes Premier Division which will take place at Whitgift School over the weekends of 6th and 7th and 13th and 14th January 2024.