Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
Surbiton 1 University of Birmingham 0
Surbiton Ladies kept their narrow advantage over Holcombe at the top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division following their 1-0 win over the University of Birmingham as Sugden Road and Holcombe’s 2-1 home win over Canterbury in the Kent derby.
Surbiton have struggled to find their goalscoring boots this season and had to settle for a first half penalty corner conversion to finally end the University of Birmingham’s unbeaten record this season with their second successive 1-0 home win.
Goalkeeper, Grace O’Hanlon kept her third clean sheet in four games, another factor which has helped the reigning champions immensely.
Birmingham have a tradition of playing attacking hockey against Surbiton and with Lily Owsley running at the home defence and Amy Costello having a shot from a fourth minute penalty corner, the students had chances to take an early lead.
Surbiton also had a couple of early penalty corner awards but the Birmingham defence held firm as the teams settled down. Former Birmingham player, Erica Sanders had a shot saved by goalkeeper Katherine Somerville who also denied Susie Catlin, whilst another former Birmingham player, Hannah Martin tried to weave her way through the visitors’ defence.
Youngster Ella Burnley also took on the Birmingham defenders, but for all their attacking endeavours, Surbiton needed a penalty corner conversion in the 21st minute to break the deadlock. Georgie Twigg’s shot headed for the top left corner before being pushed away, but the ball was judged to have crossed the line and the goal was given.
Ironically, Birmingham’s best chances of getting back into the match also came from penalty corners, as the ball ended up past the right post and Surbiton’s Robyn Collins was called into action to make a goal-line clearance late in the game to preserve Surbiton’s narrow lead.
Even when Surbiton were reduced to nine players near the end of the game after Giselle Ansley saw yellow and Catlin saw green, Birmingham were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority to find an equaliser and preserve their unbeaten record.
Birmingham’s defeat saw them drop from third to sixth as Buckingham replaced them thanks to their 2-1 home win over Bowdon Hightown. East Grinstead moved up to fourth courtesy of their 3-0 victory at Slough, who remain bottom, but only two points away from relative safety in a division where four points separate fifth to tenth.
Canterbury stayed eighth after their defeat at Holcombe and Beeston moved up to the dizzy heights of fifth as they won their first match since their return to the top flight, in a 4-3 thriller over seventh placed Clifton Robinsons.
Scorer: Georgie Twigg 21-PC
Squad: Grace O’Hanlon (GK); Giselle Ansley, Sarah Evans (Capt.), Georgie Twigg, Hannah Martin, Emily Atkinson, Emily Defroand, Erica Sanders, Susie Catlin, Alice Sharp, Robyn Collins.
Subs: Jo Hunter (7 mins), Izzy Petter (9), Holly Payne (11), Alice Klugman (11), Ella Burnley (16)
Cards: Yellow: Giselle Ansley (64 mins). Green: Susie Catlin (65 mins).
University of Birmingham:
Squad: Katherine Somerville (GK); Amy Costello, Amelia Andrew, Flora Peel (Capt.), Olivia Paige, Freya Bull, Harriet Mitchell, Catherine Ledesma, Holly Hunt, Lydia Macdonell, Lily Owsley.
Subs: Lauren Hunt (11 mins), Lily Walker (11), Elena Emo (12), Alicia Caillard (15), Delyth Thomas (15).
Card: Green: Catherine Ledesma (68 mins).
Match Official: James Boylan
Umpires: Emma Shelbourn and Cathy Wright.