Men’s Hockey League
Surbiton Men 5 Reading 3
Surbiton maintained their two point lead over second placed Beeston in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division but had to battle hard before finally seeing off a determined Reading side on a chilly evening at Sugden Road.
Captain Chris Grassick returned to the Surbiton squad as a substitute in a game in which both teams had chances to take an early lead.
Reading took the lead in the tenth minute, Edward Carson scoring from the left of the circle to the delight of the Berkshire club’s travelling support. The lead lasted just eight minutes before David Goodfield spun round to dispatch the ball past Tommy Alexander in the Reading goal and level the scores.
In the 25th minute, Alan Forsyth gave Surbiton the lead for the first time after James Gall set up the scoring chance, Forsyth pouncing on a rebound from an Alexander save to send the ball high into the roof of the net.
Five minutes before half time, Luke Taylor’s drag-flick was too powerful for Alexander and Surbiton led 3-1 at half time.
In the 54th minute, Forsyth turned in Arjan Drayton Chana’s cross from the right to give Surbiton a commanding 4-1 lead with the league leaders seemingly heading for an easy victory.
A team is never more vulnerable than when it has just scored and Reading proved the point when they pulled a goal back a minute later, James Carson finding the backboard to reduce Surbiton’s deficit to 4-2.
Surbiton’s supporters began to get anxious when with just eight minutes to play, Reading’s leading goalscorer, Ben Boon forced the ball past Surbiton goalkeeper, Harry Gibson to leave the visitors trailing by just 4-3 and with real hope that they could still get something out of the game.
In the penultimate minute, Drayton Chana extinguished those hopes, smashing the ball against the backboard from the edge of the circle to clinch a 5-3 victory with the spectators warmed up by the quality finishes on view from both teams.
Beeston stayed within two points of Surbiton courtesy of their 5-2 home win over East Grinstead. Holcombe won 3-0 at home to Brooklands Manchester University to move up to third and Ham;stead & Westminster beat Sevenoaks 6-1 to move up to fourth ahead of East Grinstead and Reading. Wimbledon closed to within one point of sixth placed Reading after beating Canterbury 2-1. Canterbury remain bottom of the table on goal difference behind Sevenoaks.
Surbiton travel to Brooklands Manchester University on Sunday 19 November, push back 2 pm. Brooklands are eighth, three points ahead of both Sevenoaks and Canterbury. (430 words)
Report: Colin Pike | 11 November 2017