M1 Suffer Setbacks On First Day of Super Sixes
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men's hopes of qualifying for the Super 6s Finals Day in Derby on 28 January suffered a double setback when they lost both matches on the opening day of the Premier Division qualifiers at Whitgift School in Croydon on Saturday.
Surbiton will go into the second day of competition on Sunday as the only team in the top flight without a point after losing to both promoted teams. A 3-0 defeat to Ashmoor was followed by a 5-4 loss to Team Bath Buccaneers after Surbiton led 4-0 with fifteen minutes to play.
Ashmoor took the lead through Alf Dinnie's penalty corner in the eighth minute and still led 1-0 at half time. Ben Andrew doubled Ashmoor's lead in the 27th minute and any hopes of a Surbiton comeback were ended in the 33rd minute when Fletcher Naisbett-Jones sealed the win with Ashmoor's second open play goal of the match.
In the final game of the day, Surbiton seemed to have found their form after Ben Park scored in the second minute and Jonny Gall added a second open play goal in the fourth minute. Team Bath's defence kept the deficit to 2-0 at the half time interval, but a penalty corner conversion by Gareth Furlong in the 24th minute and Josh Redstone's open play goal a minute later seemed to have put Surbiton firmly on the way to victory.
Team Bath Buccaneers had other ideas however and began their comeback in the 27th minute when Ben Stone scored from the penalty spot. By the end of the third quarter, Surbiton's lead had been cut back to 4-3 as Josh Heyworth and Jacob Edwards scored from open play in the 29th and 30th minutes respectively to give the Buccaneers hope.
With eight minutes remaining, Heyworth levelled the score from open play with Edwards becoming Team Bath's hero when he scored the winning goal in the 35th minute.
In spite of taking goalkeeper Dewi Roblin off in favour of an extra outfield player, Surbiton couldn't find the equaliser and lost their first two games for the first time since the 2014-15 season when they lost 6-5 to Bowdon and 8-6 to Holcombe in what was then the Hockey 5s format.
After two games, Old Georgians are the only team with maximum points beating East Grinstead 7-1 and Ashmoor 9-3. Sevenoaks are second on four points after being held 4-4 by East Grinstead following their 5-2 win over Wimbledon.
Five teams are currently on three points after mixed fortunes on the opening day, with East Grinstead a point ahead of Surbiton in eighth.
Surbiton take on leaders Old Georgians at noon on Sunday. Last season they drew 4-4 in the qualifiers and lost 8-4 in the semi-final at the Copper Box Arena. Surbiton will come up against former player Alan Forsyth, but on day one the Old Georgians player to watch was James Carson who scored seven of his side's 16 goals on the day.
Surbiton face Hampstead & Westminster in their final game of the weekend at 1700 on Sunday. Hampstead are third on three points having lost 5-4 to Holcombe in the first game on Saturday before bouncing back to beat Team Bath Buccaneers 6-1.
Sunday's matches can be followed in real time via the England Hockey Altius website here