M1 On Cusp Of Super 6s Finals Day Qualification
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men are on the cusp of qualifying for the Super 6s Championships Finals Day, but only after a battle with Hampstead & Westminster in their second game on Saturday at Whitgift School in South Croydon.
Surbiton had lost 6-2 to overnight leaders East Grinstead in their first game and looked to be heading for a second successive defeat after 24 minutes of their clash with Hampstead as they trailed 4-2. However, a run of four goals in a four minute spell set up a valuable comeback on their way to an 8-4 victory over Hampstead.
If Hampstead had hung on to the victory, they would have gone two points ahead of Surbiton with two games to play, building on their 8-1 demolition of Repton in their first game, but fourth placed Surbiton go into the final day with a four point lead over the fifth to eighth teams, who are all on six points and will battle to avoid relegation with Exeter University who have lost all six games.
Exeter can mathematically still stay up if results go their way but after a must win match against Sevenoaks at 9 am, they face Surbiton at 12 noon, with Surbiton set to qualify for Finals Day if they beat the Devon students.
Old Georgians went top of the table on 16 points with a 7-3 victory over Holcombe and a 10-3 victory over Exeter. Old Georgians are set to meet East Grinstead in the last scheduled match, but the West Sussex side lost their unbeaten record as Wimbledon beat them convincingly 6-1. Wimbledon and East Grinstead are locked together on 15 points with Wimbledon having a five better goal difference.
East Grinstead were in better form when they faced Surbiton, leading 4-0 after 25 minutes as Ross Stott opened the scoring with a second minute penalty corner conversion followed by Nick Catlin doubling the lead in the 13th minute and Kyle White notching a brace in the 17th and 25th minutes, the last three goals coming from open play.
Jamie Golden threatened to help Surbiton mount a comeback with a quick brace of open play goals in the 30th and 31st minutes but Simon Faulkner's 37th minute penalty corner and Kyle White's 39th minute open play hat-trick goal thwarted Surbiton's hopes and sealed a 6-2 win.
Saturday's programme ended with an absolute thriller between Surbiton and Hampstead with Golden giving Surbiton a first minute lead. The pattern of quick braces continued as Kei Kaeppeler scored twice in the 16th minute from open play to give Hampstead a half time lead.
James Sutcliffe's 18th minute penalty corner was cancelled out two minutes later by Jonny Gall's open play effort and when Sam French put Hampstead 4-2 ahead in the 24th minute, Surbiton's Finals Day hopes were in jeopardy.
But Tim Nurse pulled a goal back in the 27th minute with Gall netting to level the score at 4-4 a minute later, both from open play to put the game back in the melting pot. Luke Taylor put Surbiton 5-4 up from a penalty corner on the half hour mark before Surbiton struck three times in the final period.
Ben Park scored in the 31st and 37th minutes with Golden making absolutely sure of the win in the final minute to complete a thoroughly entertaining 8-4 scoreline.
Surbiton complete their Premier Division at 3 pm against Sevenoaks.
More information about the Premier Division can be found at the England Hockey Altius website via this link.
In Division One, there are three teams in contention for the two promotion places to the Premier Division. Team Bath Buccaneers are on 16 points with Brooklands Manchester University and Ashmoor a point behind. The key clash sees Team Bath play Brooklands at 1 pm. Ashmoor face Oxted and West Herts at 2 pm and 5 pm respectively as the race to the Premier is set to go to the wire.
Bottom club Ipswich will be favourites for relegation as they have to face the top two teams on Sunday, second placed Brooklands at 10 am and leaders Team Bath at 4 pm. Sixth placed West Herts meet seventh placed Oxted at 11 am.
Division Two resumes next weekend as the six teams who qualified from Division Two North and South last weekend, meet to compete for the top two places to Division One.