M1 Finish Third After 4-2 Comeback Win Over Wimbledon
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men finished third in the Men's Hockey League Finals at Sugden Road on Sunday, beating Wimbledon 4-2 after trailing 2-0 after just nine minutes.
Surbiton had drawn 4-4 with their South West London rivals a week previously, winning a bonus point via a shootout, after Wimbledon led four times. In the third-place playoff, Wimbledon cemented their early lead, Ben Hooper opening the scoring from open play in the seventh minute and Sam Hooper converting their first penalty corner just two minutes later.
In what proved to be an equally productive goal fest, Alex Williams found the backboard in the eleventh minute to halve Wimbledon's lead before Luke Taylor equalised from the penalty spot in the 20th minute, Wimbledon goalkeeper James Bailey unable to stop Taylor's shot after Surbiton were awarded the stroke as a result of their second penalty corner of the match.
The comeback was completed in the 23rd minute when Taylor converted Surbiton's fifth penalty corner to put the hosts of the tournament ahead for the first time.
Before the goal, Wimbledon's Peter Scott had been helped off the pitch after bravely blocking the fourth penalty corner as the first defender and worse was to follow towards the end of the first half as Jules Bournac walked off the pitch as another casualty of Surbiton's penalty corner routine.
The goalscoring came to a stop as Surbiton's Jonny Gall and Wimbledon's Jack Waller found themselves to be inseparable after a clash caused them to be caught up, laughing off the incident when they were finally free after a few seconds of Gall's hopping.
Surbiton's fourth goal came courtesy of an excellent passing move involving Louis Gittens before Ben Park finished brilliantly to give Surbiton some much needed breathing space in the 51st minute.
Tom Sorsby, who had scored an individual goal in the semi-final loss against Holcombe the night before, was unlucky, first falling over and then colliding with Bailey after shooting at goal and then firing past the right post, all in the last thirteen minutes.
Wimbledon were unable to get back in the match from their second and last penalty corner of the match with ten minutes remaining, but they will be happy that Surbiton were only able to convert one of their eleven penalty corners in the match.
Wimbledon and Surbiton will play Cardiff & Met next season after the Welsh club only lost two games out of 18 to win Division One North by six points from runners-up, Bowdon. They will also play Division One South champions, Southgate who return to the top flight for the first time since 2012-13 after finishing nine points ahead of runners-up, Old Loughtonians.
Old Georgians retained their title with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Holcombe in the final on Sunday evening. After the prolific Old Georgians offence was blunted by Wimbledon in a 0-0 draw on Saturday before the reigning champions progressed via a shootout, Old Georgians needed a mere 94 seconds to open the scoring against Holcombe, James Tindall perfectly positioned to deflect the ball past Holcombe goalkeeper Oliver Payne.
Lee Morton smashed the ball home in the fifth minute to double Old Georgians' lead, but Holcombe threatened to challenge after Tim Guise-Brown reduced the deficit from their first penalty corner in the ninth minute.
Old Georgians then capitalised on Sam Taylor's yellow card to restore their two goal lead in the 13th minute through Chris Proctor's open play goal.
Holcombe earned a further two penalty corners in the first half but couldn't convert, whilst Old Georgians converted their only penalty corner of the match in the 49th minute, Tom Carson extending the Elmbridge team's lead to 4-1.
The match saw the top two scorers in the Premier Division, Old Georgians' Sam Ward and Holcombe's Nick Bandurak come face to face, but whilst Bandurak scored both Holcombe goals against Surbiton on Saturday, it was Ward who literally had the final say in the final, scoring Old Georgians' fifth goal in the 70th minute to complete a comprehensive victory.