Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
Surbiton 1 Holcombe 2
Surbiton Ladies stayed top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division despite suffering their third league defeat of the season, 2-1 at home to Holcombe. The University of Birmingham missed the opportunity to take advantage of Surbiton’s defeat, losing 3-0 at East Grinstead on Sunday after Saturday’s game versus Slough was postponed.
However, both Holcombe and East Grinstead’s victories put Surbiton under pressure, with Holcombe just one point behind in second and East Grinstead closing to within three points with a game in hand in fourth. Birmingham dropped from second to third, two points behind Surbiton but also with a game In hand on the top two teams.
The pitch was cleared of snow by a team of hard working volunteers, with the final decision that both games of the scheduled men’s/ women’s doubleheader could go ahead made at 11.45 am.
Surbiton captain, Sarah Haycroft regained the Captain’s armband after missing the previous week’s 3-1 win at Clifton Robinsons, and made her 100th national league appearance for Surbiton against Holcombe.
Holcombe spoilt the celebrations early, taking a fifth minute lead after Sarah Jones neatly finished off a slick attacking move. Beckie Middleton and Anabel Herzsprung combined well only to find Holcombe’s Leah Wilkinson barring the way to goal.
Sarah Page and Georgie Twigg both had shots saved by visiting goalkeeper, Rose Thomas as Surbiton tried to grab an equaliser, but Surbiton’s Achilles Heel was their penalty corner routine, failing to convert eleven penalty corners via either drag-flicks or manoeuvred routines. Holcombe’s penalty corner defenders sprinted from the goal-line to block and deflect shots to add to Surbiton’s frustration.
Holcombe could have doubled their lead shortly before half time, a shot from Jones rebounding off the post to Surbiton’s relief.
Not for the first time, Surbiton failed to take advantage of their amount of possession and paid the penalty in the 55th minute, Tanya Britz’s reverse stick finish giving Holcombe a 2-0 lead.
Two minutes later, Surbiton were awarded a penalty stroke after a shot was blocked illegally on the goal-line. Giselle Ansley stepped up to beat Thomas and reduce the deficit to 2-1 and give the reigning champions thirteen minutes to salvage something from the game.
Holcombe held out to gain their first ever win over Surbiton in any outdoor competition and boost their chances of finishing in the top four.
Only Surbiton’s game and East Grinstead’s game v Birmingham went ahead in the top flight over the weekend with Leicester suffering a double home postponement as some teams now face the prospect of fixture congestion going into the final three weekends of the regular season.
Scorer: Giselle Ansley 57-PS
Squad: Giselle Ansley, Georgie Twigg, Jo Hunter, Hannah Martin, Emily Atkinson, Emily Defroand, Beckie Middleton, Hollie Pearne-Webb, Holly Payne, Anabel Herzsprung, Ellie Shahbo (GK).
Subs: Sarah Haycroft (Capt.), (5 mins), Sarah Page (8), Alice Sharp (12), Olivia Chilton (19).
Sub not used: Ella Burnley
Scorers: Sarah Jones 5-F, Tanya Britz 55-F
Squad: Rose Thomas (GK); Joanne Westwood, Emma Trunks, Sarah Jones, Dirkie Chamberlain, Harriet Pittard, Ellie Watton, Beth Bingham, Nicola White, Steph Elliott (Capt.), Tanya Britz
Subs: Line Malan (8 mins), Leah Wilikinson (8), Heather McEwan (9), Philippa Lewis (10).
Sub not used: Laura Myers (GK).
Match Official: Thea Hitchcock
Umpires: David Howell and Lelia Sacré
Colin Pike | Surbiton HC