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W1 Start Campaign With 3-2 Defeat At Reading


16th September 2023

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Women lost for the first time on opening day in the National League, going down to a 3-2 defeat at Reading on Saturday evening.

Unable to call on their internationals, Surbiton included Lottie Ross, Freya Robinson, Lilie Lamacraft, Elani Sherwood and Josie Hippe in their squad, in addition to giving league debuts to summer signings, Martha Taylor and Katie Curtis.

Sarah Evans also returned to the squad for the first time since having a baby in April.

Since the teams first met in 2012-13, Reading had only won once, at Sugden Road in October 2013, when Rebecca Halle's winning goal in the 2-1 victory had proved to be Reading's last regular season goal against Surbiton.

The run of eight consecutive games without scoring was ended in emphatic fashion as Reading raced into a two goal lead after just seven minutes. Lizzie Gittens gave the hosts the lead from their first penalty corner in the fifth minute and two minutes later Caroline Spence doubled the lead from open play to delight the Sonning Lane faithful.

Shellshocked, Surbiton kept their composure, Holly Payne making an attacking run before being thwarted by Reading's Gittens whilst Sherwood was unlucky that a potentially penetrating pass aimed at Martha Le Huray failed to reach its target.

In the second quarter, Surbiton fought their way back into the game courtesy of a baseline run and pass from Eloise Stenner which was finished from short range by Meg Dowthwaite as the visitors opened their account for the season in the 23rd minute.

Six minutes later, it was third time lucky for Surbiton's penalty corner routine as after Reading competently defended Surbiton's first penalty corner and Stenner just failed to get a shot on target from the second, Taylor scored on her debut to convert Surbiton's third award to restore parity.

After two quarters of goal action, both teams failed to score in the third, Hippe forcing a save from Ruby Butterfield in the 45th minute after excellent support play from Sherwood.

The fourth quarter could have gone either way with Shona McCallin clearing the ball out of the circle and over the sideline to defend Surbiton's seventh penalty corner with five minutes remaining, but it was Sophia Clark who found the backboard in the 67th minute to give Reading a morale boosting victory in their second season back in the top-flight.

Reigning champions East Grinstead slipped to a 2-1 home defeat to newly promoted Bowdon to give last season's Division One North champions plenty to celebrate on the way home. Bowdon took the lead through Sian French in the 39th minute, only for Liv Breed to level of the hosts four minutes later. Jane Donnelly scored the winning goal on the hour mark. East Grinstead became the first reigning champions to lose their first match of the season since Reading, who lost 2-1 at home to Canterbury at the start of the 2013-14 season.

Isca & University of Exeter continued a sequence of 2-0 scorelines on opening day as Clifton Robinsons won 2-0 in Devon. Livvy Hoskins scored both goals, from open play in the 27th minute and from a 44th minute penalty corner. Over the previous three seasons, Isca have beaten Witney 2-0 and lost 2-0 to both Slough and Reading in their first match of the season in Division One South.

University of Nottingham drew 3-3 at home to Loughborough Students. Julie Read's 13th minute penalty stroke and Jordan Homann's 21st minute penalty corner conversion put the hosts in control before Amy Cradden pulled a goal back for Loughborough six minutes before the interval. Loughborough fought back to lead 3-2 by the end of the third quarter, Kiera Foster equalising from open play in the 39th minute and Madeleine Goodman competing the comeback, also from open play in the 52nd minute. Homann broke Loughborough hearts with four minutes remaining with her second penalty corner goal of the match.

Beeston won 2-1 at Wimbledon, Mads Newitt putting Beeston ahead in the 32nd minute only for Becky Manton to level seven minutes later. Cerys Miller was the Nottingham club's heroine with a winner two minutes from time.

Honours were even at the University of Birmingham as although Emily Rowlands put the London club ahead on the quarter hour, Amy Grassom snatched a point for the students with just eight minutes remaining.

Surbiton Women host Isca in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division next Saturday, push back 3 pm.