M1 Qualify For Super 6s Finals Day
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men finished fourth in the Super Sixes Championships Premier Division at Whitgift School to qualify for Finals Day at the Copper Box Arena on 29 January.
Surbiton will face Old Georgians in the semi-finals after their Elmbridge rivals finished top of the table, a point ahead of second placed Wimbledon. East Grinstead, who made the early running, eventually finished third and will take on Wimbledon at the Copper Box.
The Finals Day schedule will be:
1300 Old Georgians v Surbiton
1415 Wimbledon v East Grinstead
1655 Men's Final
Surbiton needed a win to clinch their place on Sunday but had a harder battle against Exeter University in their first game of the day. Exeter's relegation to Division One had been confirmed after they lost 4-3 to Sevenoaks in the opening match of the day's schedule, but were determined to go out with a bang when Seb Ansley put the students ahead in the first minute.
Jonny Gall levelled for Surbiton seconds later, both goals coming from open play before Luke Taylor converted a penalty corner in the second minute to put Surbiton 2-1 ahead.
The lightning start fizzled out and when Alex Williams extended Surbiton's lead to 3-1 in the 14th minute it seemed that Surbiton were on the path to a comfortable victory. To their credit, Exeter had other ideas and were back level by half time, Jacob Payton converting a penalty corner in the 16th minute and Ben Fox scoring from open play just before the interval to leave all to play for in the second half.
After a six goal first half, the second half was much quieter, with Exeter on course to secure their first point of the competition before Rob Farrington netted in the 39th minute and Jamie Golden struck in the final minute to spare Surbiton's blushes with a 5-3 win and ensure that their last opponents, Sevenoaks, couldn't catch them.
With the top four already decided, Surbiton and Sevenoaks played out an entertaining 5-5 draw. Once again the game got off to a fast start with Surbiton leading 2-0 after just three minutes, Golden scoring in the second minute and Williams adding the second a minute later, both goals coming from open play.
Matt Richards scored for Sevenoaks in the fourth minute and by half time, Surbiton were in control with a 4-1 lead, Ben Park scoring in the 13th minute and Taylor with another penalty corner conversion a minute before the break.
Sevenoaks fought back valiantly with three goal in six minutes to make the score 4-4. David Smith converted a penalty corner in the 27th minute, Craig Morton scored from open play on the half hour mark and Richards scored his second goal of the game with seven minutes remaining to give Surbiton something to think about.
Golden, who ended up as second top scorer on 14 goals behind Wimbledon's Ed Horler's 16 goal tally, seemed to have won the game late for Surbiton in the 37th minute but Ben Allberry salvaged a point as the teams shared ten goals.
Repton joined Exeter in Division One next season as they finished eighth behind Hampstead & Westminster on goal difference after both teams finished on six points.
More information about the Men's Premier Division can be found at the England Hockey Altius website via this link
Team Bath Buccaneers and Ashmoor will play in the Premier Division next season after the top three teams were all separated by just one point. Team Bath finished on 20 with Ashmoor beating West Herts 13-2 in their final game to pip Brooklands Manchester University to the second promotion place on goal difference after both teams attained 19 points.
At the other end of the table, Doncaster and Ipswich were relegated to Division Two. Their replacements will be decided next weekend when the top three teams from Division Two North (Beeston, Bowdon and Khalsa Leamington) joint the top three from Division Two South (Guildford, Southgate and the University of Bristol) in Division Two National. The top two teams will be promoted to Division One.