Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
East Grinstead 0 Surbiton 2
Surbiton Ladies kept their three point advantage over the University of Birmingham at the top of the table after a 2-0 win in West Sussex against East Grinstead.
With five of their England internationals making their last club appearance before going to Auckland to compete in the Hockey World League Final tournament, Surbiton won their third successive match and kept their second clean sheet of the season. Holly Payne was impressive on her Surbiton debut after transferring from Leicester.
After a very wet morning, the match was played in thankfully dry conditions although the floodlights were needed from the start. Surbiton attacked from the whistle and were unlucky not to take an early lead, captain, Sarah Haycroft, Jo Hunter and Hannah Martin causing problems for the home defenders. Martin was particularly unlucky not to find the target on two occasions.
Having weathered the storm for the first ten minutes, East Grinstead found some momentum themselves, although Surbiton defended well.
The breakthrough came in the 17th minute, Emily Atkinson following up her individual goal against Slough the week before with a penalty corner conversion, perfectly placed to score from a rebound after home goalkeeper, Amy Tennant saved.
Four minutes before half time, Emily Defroand’s shot from the right of the circle somehow eluded the East Grinstead defence and Tennant to rebound off the inside of the left sideboard and double Surbiton’s lead.
East Grinstead had chances to pull back a goal shortly before half time from two penalty corner awards, but Surbiton goalkeeper, Grace Lawes made a good save from the first and the second was wasted.
East Grinstead dominated possession from the start of the second half, giving both the Surbiton defence and Lawes something to think about. Nevertheless, Surbiton still had chances to score at the other end, Haycroft and Defroand forcing saves and Twigg shooting wide.
As the second half progressed, Surbiton tried to reinstate their passing game gradually evening up possession, but with Payne battling with East Grinstead’s Ellie Rayer and Haycroft having been challenged by Xenna Hughes, it was only towards the end that Surbiton were really successful. Sarah Page, Payne and Defroand all linked up well to force a penalty corner, but the division’s leading goalscorer, Giselle Ansley was thwarted by Tennant.
The University of Birmingham won 1-0 at Slough to keep up the pressure on the reigning champions, whilst Buckingham moved up to third with a 3-2 home win over Clifton Robinsons. Holcombe moved up to fourth in spite of being held to a 1-1 draw at Canterbury, who gained their second point of the season. Bowdon Hightown ended their run of five games without scoring, coming away from Leicester with a 2-1 win.
Surbiton are at home to third placed Buckingham on Saturday (11 November) before facing East League leaders Wapping in the England Hockey Championships Tier 1 first round on Sunday.
Report: Colin Pike | 4 November 2017