Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
Surbiton 1 Canterbury 1
Surbiton Ladies’ lead at the top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division was cut to one point after Canterbury held the reigning champions to a 1-1 draw at Sugden Road and the University of Birmingham won 1-0 at Bowdon Hightown.
A minute’s silence was observed before the start of the match in remembrance of Surbiton’s former Club Captain and President, Mark Rye, who sadly passed away earlier in the week whilst on holiday in Australia.
Alessia Robinson made her debut in Surbiton colours after joining from Australian club, Victoria Park Xavier HC. On a wet day in Elmbridge, Surbiton elected to play in their second strip, green shirts and white skorts, with Canterbury also wearing their second choice colours of red shirts and white skorts.
In spite of missing six international players on Great Britain duty in Rosario, Argentina, Surbiton attacked from the start, forcing a second minute penalty corner from which Canterbury goalkeeper, Helen Fagg saved from Natalie Maclean.
Five minutes later, Robinson’s shot was blocked from Surbiton’s second penalty corner following a manoeuvred routine. Canterbury’s well-organised defence successfully reduced Surbiton’s open play scoring opportunities, Mel Clewlow and captain, Sarah Kerly making key defensive plays in the first half.
Sarah Page, Holly Payne and Anabel Herzsprung combined well but again were thwarted by the visiting defence as Surbiton struggled to put the finishing touch to their attacks.
In the 23rd minute, Canterbury took full advantage of their first penalty corner, Grace Balsdon, who had earned a point in a 2-2 draw from a last minute penalty stroke on the opening day of the season at Polo Farm, defiantly finding the backboard to give the bottom team in the division a surprise lead over the league leaders.
The goal gave Canterbury confidence but with defences on top, Surbiton still trailed 1-0 at half time.
Early in the second half, Beckie Middleton shot past the right post and Page forced a fine save from Fagg as Surbiton tried to find an equaliser. In the 42nd minute, Middleton took the honours with a superb goal, deflecting the ball with an overhead stick high into the roof of the net and beyond Fagg to make the score 1-1.
Again, Canterbury’s defence restricted Surbiton’s scoring opportunities from open play, the hosts forced to regroup their attacks from the 23 metre line and from free hits.
Clewlow’s shot from Canterbury’s second penalty corner of the match was successfully defended as the Kent club also aimed to score the winning goal which would lift them off the bottom of the table.
Neither side managed to find the winning goal with Canterbury extending their unbeaten run to six games, and gaining their third successive 1-1 draw whilst quickly earning a reputation of becoming the division’s draw specialists.
With the bottom four teams all drawing: Leicester 2-2 at Buckingham and Clifton Robinsons 0-0 with Slough, Canterbury remained one point behind Leicester and three behind eighth placed Slough.
Surbiton turn their attention to the England Hockey Championships Tier 1 Tournament on Sunday when they welcome St. Albans of the one division lower IWHL Conference East to Sugden Road (push back 11.30 am).
Scorer: Beckie Middleton 53-F
Squad: Georgie Twigg (Capt.), Emily Atkinson, Alessia Robinson, Olivia Chilton, Natalie Maclean, Beckie Middleton, Sarah Page, Holly Payne, Izzy Petter, Anabel Herzsprung, Ellie Shahbo (GK).
Subs: Stephanie Addison (10 mins), Darcy Bourne (11), Adrienne Houle (11), Ella Burnley (18).
Scorer: Grace Balsdon 23-PC
Squad: Helen Fagg (GK); Grace Balsdon, Hannah Griggs, Mel Clewlow, Lucy Hyams, Penny Squibb, Paris Gasson, Nicki Ball, Lucy Barnes, Sioned Fox, Aimee Plumb.
Subs: Sarah Kerly (Capt.) (6 mins), Ashley Mainwaring (8), Vicky O’Sullivan (9), Elizabeth Jenkins (9).
Match Official: Thea Hitchcock
Umpires: David Howell and Helen Sargeant
Report: Colin Pike |10 February 2018