Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
Clifton Robinsons 1 Surbiton 3
Surbiton Ladies returned to the top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division following their 3-1 win at Clifton Robinsons, after the University of Birmingham’s game at East Grinstead was postponed due to a frozen pitch.
With the return of their GB internationals, Surbiton also returned to winning ways in Bristol having been held to draws by Canterbury and Bowdon Hightown at Sugden Road in the previous two weeks.
Clifton’s defeat leaves them perilously close to the relegation places, although Canterbury remain a point behind after their 1-0 defeat at Bowdon Hightown. Clifton will be looking anxiously at next Sunday’s result when ninth placed Slough visit bottom club Leicester in a rearranged game due to Slough competing in Prague in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy this weekend.
At a sunny but bitterly cold Coombe Dingle Sports Complex, Surbiton had early chances to score with Anabel Herzsprung forcing a save from Clifton goalkeeper, Sarah Ellis and Hannah Martin shooting wide of the right post.
Georgie Twigg also forced a save from Ellis, but Surbiton took the lead from a penalty corner rather than open play when Hollie Pearne-Webb, captain in the absence of Sarah Haycroft, converted the visitors’ first penalty corner via a defensive deflection in the sixth minute. The umpires consulted before the goal was awarded.
Clifton fought their way back into the match in the 20th minute with a well manoeuvred penalty corner routine. The Surbiton defence failed to clear as the ball was passed from the left to the right of the circle with Abi Porter putting the ball away to the delight of the home supporters.
Jo Hunter had a double opportunity late in the first half to restore Surbiton’s lead but after yet another Ellis save, the ball ended up past the left post to ensure the teams went into the half time break level at 1-1.
Early in the second half, Clifton failed to capitalise on a Surbiton turnover, goalkeeper, Ellie Shahbo sparing the visitors’ blushes. Surbiton continued to create scoring chances, but Ellis denied Beckie Middleton before finally being beaten by Sarah Page’s shot which found its way into the right corner of the backboard in the 47th minute.
Seven minutes later, Twigg extended Surbiton’s lead with a spectacular shot into the right side netting to leave Clifton chasing the game.
Clifton didn’t give up, Zoe Leach running at the Surbiton defence towards the end of the second half to try and initiate a late comeback but Surbiton held out comfortably to return to top spot.
Holcombe lost ground after being held to a 3-3 draw at home by Buckingham, conceding a last second penalty corner goal. Holcombe are Surbiton’s next opponents when they visit Sugden Road on 3 March at 4 pm in the first part of a doubleheader which sees Surbiton Men take on Holcombe at 6 pm.
Scorers: Hollie Pearne-Webb 6-PC, Sarah Page 47-F, Georgie Twigg 54-F
Squad: Giselle Ansley, Georgie Twigg, Hannah Martin, Emily Atkinson, Emily Defroand, Beckie Middleton, Sarah Page, Hollie Pearne-Webb (Capt.), Holly Payne, Anabel Herzsprung, Ellie Shahbo (GK).
Subs: Jo Hunter (9 mins), Lucy Holder (13), Olivia Chilton (20), Ella Burnley (30)
Sub not used: Alessia Robinson.
Scorer: Abi Porter 20-PC
Squad: Sarah Ellis (GK); Nicola Moss, Harriet Smith (Capt.), Isabel Palmer, Zoe Leach, Jo Leigh, Abi Porter, Claire Thomas, Olivia Hopkisson, Kate Holmes, Hannah Coulson.
Subs: Lisa Daley (8 mins), Victoria McCabe (10), Natasha Marke-Jones (14), Louisa Bell (15).
Match Official: Ben Redwood
Umpires: Eric Dickinson and David Howell
Report: Colin Pike | Images: SmifSports Photography