M1 Suffer Super 6s Relegation
By Colin Pike
Next season, Surbiton Men will play in the Super 6s Division One for the first time since 2015-16 after completing a disastrous Premier Division season which saw them lose all eight games.
Surbiton needed two wins to have any chance of a last day escape but lost both games to East Grinstead and Holcombe by a 5-4 scoreline to end up relegated alongside Ashmoor, who make an immediate return to the second tier after promotion last season.
Surbiton were on course to be relegated before their first match as Ashmoor led Sevenoaks 2-0, but Surbiton stayed alive as the Kent club mounted a comeback to win 3-2.
East Grinstead stormed into a three goal lead after just seven minutes, Simon Faulkner converting a penalty corner in the first minute and Trevor De Lora and Josh Gravestock scoring from open play in the third and seventh minutes.
Surbiton showed their battling qualities by levelling before half time, Rob Farrington scoring from open play in the 14th minute, Luke Taylor's 15th minute penalty corner and Jonny Gall's open play strike two minutes before the midway point giving Surbiton hope of securing their first win.
Gravestock and Gall exchanged open play goals in the 28th and 30th minutes, but it was Gravestock's hat-trick goal in the penultimate minute which finally confirmed Surbiton's relegation.
Holcombe were also in relegation peril, but their 5-4 victory saved them at Ashmoor's expense. With the pressure off, Surbiton led 2-0, Luke Taylor opening the scoring from a penalty corner in the seventh minute and Rob Farrington adding a second a minute later.
Holcombe fought back to level at 2-2 before half time courtesy of Seb Ansley's 13th minute goal and Barry Middleton's 19th minute equaliser, but Surbiton changed ends with a 3-2 advantage after Stuart Rushmere restored Surbiton's lead.
Holcombe's determination to avoid relegation, helped them to score three goals in the second half, Tom Russell equalising at 3-3 two minutes into the third quarter, Jake Owen giving the Kent club the lead for the first time in the 26th minute and Sam Taylor clinching the victory in the final minute. There was still time for Luke Taylor to ensure that he had both the first and last word in the match, but Surbiton tasted defeat again.
Surbiton and Ashmoor will be replaced by Southgate and Canterbury in the top flight in 2025. Next season's complete Division One line-up will be confirmed next weekend when Division Two National is held.
Old Georgians will meet Hampstead & Westminster and Sevenoaks will face reigning champions, Wimbledon in the semi-finals at Derby Arena on 28 January.
More information about the Premier Division tournament can be found at the England Hockey Altius website here