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W1 Win 4-1 At East Grinstead To Extend Lead To 2 Points


21st October 2023

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Women won 4-1 at East Grinstead on Saturday afternoon to extend their lead to two points over Reading, who moved above Bowdon into second place in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division.

Reading won 2-0 at Clifton Robinsons whilst Bowdon drew 2-2 at home to the University of Nottingham to maintain their unbeaten record in the top division.

As at Loughborough the previous week, the weather varied, from sunny to rainy to sunny and rainy as both teams had to adapt to the constantly changing conditions.

And just as at Loughborough, Surbiton were under pressure in the early minutes as East Grinstead tried to make a quick start with Ellie Rayer battling with Martha Taylor and the Surbiton defence nearly caught out by an aerial ball which threatened to drop awkwardly.

But, having weathered three minutes of intense pressure, Surbiton broke away for their first attack and despite Issy Field's best efforts in the East Grinstead goal, the ball slipped past her for Hannah French to touch the ball over the line from very short range to give the visitors an early lead.

Sarah Evans and Elani Sherwood attacked to force a penalty corner in the tenth minute, but the shot was judged too high and resulted in an East Grinstead free hit.

However their two other awards were to be more successful with Taylor doubling Surbiton's lead in the 24th minute, Field making another save but unable to stop Taylor's looping shot into the top right corner from the visitors' second penalty corner.

Towards the end of the first quarter, East Grinstead had resumed their pressure in the Surbiton circle with the Surbiton defence forced to clear the ball to the sidelines as the West Sussex club tried to find an equaliser.

East Grinstead also threatened in the second quarter with the ball crossing the circle but nobody able to get a decisive touch before the skies became overcast and rain started to fall just before half time, Surbiton maintaining their 2-0 advantage.

Izzy Petter and Sophie Hamilton combined at the start of the third quarter, only for Chloe Brown to stop the attack. There was nothing the entire East Grinstead defence could do in the 39th minute when French received the ball just outside the 23 metre area after a neat 1-2 passing play, ran into the 23 and the right of the circle before slotting the ball past Field and against the backboard to put Surbiton in control with a 3-0 lead.

East Grinstead fought back four minutes later when Laura Roper's straight strike from the hosts' first penalty corner of the match reduced the deficit to 3-1, but by the end of the third quarter, Surbiton led 4-1, Leah Wilkinson's neat deflection from Surbiton's third and final penalty corner with the last play of the quarter, proving to be the final score of the day.

Surbiton's penalty corner defence were put under immense pressure between the 62nd and 66th minutes during which East Grinstead forced five penalty corners, but ultimately, the set pieces took time off the clock with Surbiton defending superbly to stop East Grinstead scoring a second goal.

The game can be seen again via the East Grinstead Hockey TV channel on You Tube here

Phoebe Nixon and Caroline Spence earned Reading their 2-0 win at Clifton Robinsons and saw the Berkshire club move up to second place. 

Bowdon dropped to third, a point behind Reading after they were held to a 2-2 home draw by the University of Nottingham. Sienna Dunn and Maddie Long gave Nottingham a 2-0 lead but Sophia Crawshay and Keely Perham earned Bowdon their point.

Wimbledon are fourth after a 2-1 home win over Hampstead & Westminster. Anna O'Flanagan gave Hampstead the lead, but Lucy Holder and Beth Bingham helped Wimbledon come from behind. Hampstead are fifth, Clifton Robinsons sixth and the University of Nottingham seventh, all on eight points.

East Grinstead are eighth on six points, ahead of the University of Birmingham on goal difference. Birmingham beat Beeston 2-1 in another game which saw the winners come from behind. Lauren Burrell put Beeston ahead but Carter Ayars and Betsan Thomas earned Birmingham the three points.

Loughborough Students lifted themselves off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win at Isca & University of Exeter, Beth Alexander scoring the only goal to send the Devon students to the basement.

Surbiton Women take on Wimbledon on Sunday at 2 pm in their second match of the scheduled weekend double header at Sugden Road.

The preview for the Surbiton v Wimbledon match can be read here

In Division One South, Surbiton Women's second team beat Canterbury 3-1 at Sugden Road on Saturday afternoon. Imogen Davies put Surbiton ahead in the 13th minute, only for Mel Clewlow to level five minutes later, both goals from penalty corners.

In the second half, Charlotte Calnan restored Surbiton's lead in the 46th minute with Isabelle Yonge clinching the victory two minutes later, both goals coming from open play.

Surbiton maintained their one hundred per cent record in the division and lead both Holcombe and Barnes by three points. Holcombe won 6-1 at Harleston Magpies and Barnes won 2-1 at Southgate.