Men’s Hockey League Premier Division
Surbiton 2 Hampstead & Westminster 2
Surbiton and Hampstead & Westminster are still locked together at the top of the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division after a hard fought 2-2 draw at Sugden Road on Saturday night. Surbiton hold a nominal goal difference advantage over their London rivals but both teams will be looking over their shoulders as Holcombe closed to within a point after a 3-2 win over the University of Exeter on Sunday afternoon.
Surbiton were without six international players on England duty in the Four Nations on Valencia whilst, Hampstead were missing Harry Martin and Christopher Cargo, representing England and Ireland respectively at the same tournament.
Hampstead went into the match defending a twelve game unbeaten run including last season’s end of season championships and boasted the joint best defence with Holcombe, having conceded just two goals this season including a goalless draw at Lee Valley the previous week.
Hampstead forced a penalty corner within twenty seconds of the start, but it was Surbiton who broke the deadlock in the fourth minute. Arjan Drayton Chana’s penetrating run and pass found the division’s leading goalscorer, Alan Forsyth who shot on the turn to score his twelfth goal of the campaign in front of a bumper crowd.
Surbiton’s lead lasted seven minutes before Hampstead pushed forward, Paul Melkert levelling from open play. Six minutes before half time, Tim Atkins found the backboard from Surbiton’s first penalty corner of the match to restore the hosts’ lead.
The only goal of the second half came in the 48th minute, Rupert Shipperley equalising from Hampstead’s third penalty corner. Surbiton’s young goalkeeper, Taylor Seager-Green made a string of outstanding saves to stop Hampstead taking all three points back to Paddington Recreation Ground in a pulsating top of the table clash.
Over the weekend, Holcombe were the only team to win in the Premier Division as the other four fixtures ended in draws. Beeston are fourth after a 2-2 draw at Wimbledon, three points ahead of both East Grinstead and Reading. East Grinstead battled to a 3-3 draw at Brooklands Manchester University where four of the six goals came in the last ten minutes. On Saturday night, Reading drew 0-0 at Sevenoaks, the Kent club moving off the bottom of the table, a point ahead of the University of Exeter.
The race for top spot is likely to take another twist next weekend with Hampstead hosting Brooklands Manchester University and Surbiton travel to Holcombe for their third league match in succession against a fellow top four team.
Scorers: Alan Forsyth 4-F, Tim Atkins 29-PC
Squad: Tim Atkins, Lewis Prosser, Tom Sorsby, Ben Boon, Jonathan Gall (Capt.), Arjan Drayton Chana, Alan Forsyth, Sam Spencer, Nicholas Parkes, Taylor Seager-Green (GK), Rory Calnan.
Subs: Conor Williamson (6 mins), William Marshall (8), Scott Jones (8), Scott Evans (19). Sub not used: Max Lowrey
Cards: Green: William Marshall (51 mins)
Hampstead & Westminster:
Scorers: Paul Melkert 11-F, Rupert Shipperley 48-PC
Squad: Toby Reynolds-Cotterill (GK); Jonny Gooch, Richard Smith, James Oates, Marc Edwards, Rupert Shipperley (Capt.), Paul Melkert, Matt Guise-Brown, Kwan Browne, Josh Kelly, Will Calnan.
Subs: Felix Mathes (6 mins), Anton Pohling (7), Joe Crame (9), Stephen Cant (10), Sam French (17).
Cards: Green: Josh Kelly (29 mins), Anton Pohling (55), Will Calnan (68)
Match Official: Ray Strudwick
Umpires: Dan Barstow and Daran Cass
Colin Pike - Surbiton Hockey