Men’s Hockey League Premier Division
Beeston 3 Surbiton 5
Beeston Hockey Club promoted their doubleheader against Surbiton as an Oktoberfest and the men’s game in particular was indeed an Oktoberfest of thrilling hockey as Surbiton came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to win 5-3 and move to the top of the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division on goal difference over Hampstead and Westminster.
As the sun set, the temperature dropped under the Nottingham Hockey Centre floodlights with occasional wind gusts not helping. But it was the Beeston supporters who were given a warm glow in the fifth minute when Robbie Gleeson finished from an acute angle to the left of the goal to give the hosts the perfect start.
Surbiton’s unbeaten record was in further jeopardy in the 19th minute when Elliot Hibell’s clinical penalty corner conversion gave Beeston a 2-0 lead and gave Surbiton work to do. Within three minutes, Surbiton’s comeback was under way, James Royce pulling a goal back with his sixth goal of the campaign, also from a penalty corner.
Two minutes before half time, Surbiton seemed to be heading into the half time break on level terms with Beeston after Ben Boon attacked down the left before crossing the ball into the circle for Alan Forsyth to control and then smash an angled shot into the far right corner to make the score 2-2.
However, an already entertaining game took another twist at the end of the first half when Hibell worked his penalty corner magic for a second time to give Beeston a 3-2 half time lead to become the Nottingham club’s top scorer on five goals.
Two minutes into the second half, Forsyth struck again, this time putting away a penalty corner rebound after Beeston goalkeeper, Simon Hujwan saved the initial shot. Having fought their way back into the match twice to level the score at 3-3, Surbiton inexplicably lost concentration for a period, continually giving Beeston opportunities to retake the lead.
Fortunately for the visitors, Beeston failed to take advantage and were made to pay with five minutes remaining when they conceded a penalty stroke. Forsyth made no mistake to give Surbiton the lead for the first time in the match at 4-3 with his eleventh goal of the season to overtake Holcombe’s Nick Bandurak as the division’s top scorer.
Beeston’s gamble of replacing Hujwan with a kicking back backfired in the 68th minute when Boon sent the ball into the empty goal to clinch Surbiton’s fifth successive league victory at Nottingham Hockey Centre.
Hampstead dropped to second after drawing 0-0 with Holcombe at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. East Grinstead and Reading closed the gap on the top four to three points with a 3-2 home win over Sevenoaks and a 1-0 home win over Wimbledon respectively.
Surbiton host Hampstead and Westminster in a top of the table clash next Saturday (push back 6 pm).
Scorers: Robbie Gleeson 5-F, Elliot Hibell 19-PC, 35-PC
Squad: Simon Hujwan (GK); Kyle Marshall, Robbie Gleeson, Joe Sharp, Nick Park, James Albery, Elliot Hibell, James Sutcliffe, Stephen Lawrence (Capt.), William Hewer, Chris Proctor.
Subs: Gareth Griffiths (5 mins), Quentin Lemaire (5), Richard Lawrence (5), Lucas Ward (8), Alex Blumfield (10).
Cards: Green: Gareth Griffiths (15 mins), Joe Sharp (24 mins), Robbie Gleeson (30 mins).
Scorers: James Royce 22-PC, Alan Forsyth 33-F, 37-PC, 65-PS; Ben Boon 68-F
Squad: Tim Atkins, Lewis Prosser, Tom Sorsby, Ben Boon, Jonathan Gall (Capt.), James Royce, Alan Forsyth, Sam Spencer, Nick Parkes, Taylor Seager-Green (GK), Rory Calnan
Subs: Arjan Drayton Chana (5 mins), Conor Williamson (5), William Marshall (10), Scott Evans (10).
Card: Green: Tom Sorsby (33 mins).
Match Official: John Anderson
Umpires: Dan Barstow and Sean Edwards