Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
Canterbury 1 Surbiton 2
Surbiton kept their three point lead at the top of the investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division, but had to come from behind before securing a win at Polo Farm against Canterbury.
Surbiton went into the match missing six players on duty at the Wanglibao Champions Trophy in Changzhou, China, whilst Canterbury were without Grace Balsdon, the scorer of three of their six league goals.
Canterbury took the lead in the fifth minute, Mel Clewlow scoring her first goal of the season with a penalty corner conversion. Surbiton’s Alice Sharp came close to an immediate response, shooting past the right post a minute later.
Canterbury set out to frustrate Surbiton’s forwards defensively, Nicki Ball and captain, Lucy Barnes proving particularly effective to stop Surbiton’s captain, Georgie Twigg and another attacking run by Sharp respectively. Clewlow also played her part in defence, but Sharp was becoming a thorn in Canterbury’s side, forcing a save from home goalkeeper, Helen Fagg on the quarter-hour then equalising from the next attack after Phoebe Willars set up the goalscoring chance.
Olivia Chilton had a chance to give Surbiton the lead in the 24th minute and Canterbury defended Surbiton’s penalty corners well, Sophie Pinney blocking two shots as the lead runner.
Near the end of the first half, Canterbury threatened with crosses from the right, Elizabeth Jenkins unable to find a team-mate in the circle to restore the hosts’ lead, leaving honours even at the half time break.
Defences were generally on top in the second half, with Surbiton working hard to break down the Canterbury defence. The winning goal came in the 51st minute, Twigg beating defenders on a mini run in the circle before slipping the ball past Fagg.
The Canterbury players were frustrated when the final whistle sounded to signal their sixth defeat in nine games. At the same point of the season last year, Canterbury were also bottom of the table but managed to mount a revival in the second half of the season which was so successful that they finished sixth in the final table.
However, Canterbury’s cause was not helped by Slough’s 2-2 home draw with Bowdon Hightown which leaves the Kent club four points adrift of both teams. Holcombe kept up the pressure on Surbiton with a 3-1 win at Beeston. East Grinstead moved up to third with a 3-2 win at the University of Birmingham on a day when the top three teams all had to come from behind before winning.
Buckingham suffered a setback with a 2-1 home defeat by Clifton Robinsons, claiming their third successive league win.
Scorer: Mel Clewlow 5-PC
Squad: Helen Fagg (GK); Aimee Plumb, Mel Clewlow, Lucy Stewart, Sophie Pinney, Mary Flint, Sian Emslie, Nicki Ball, Lucy Barnes (Capt.), Sioned Fox, Elizabeth Jenkins.
Subs: Katie Williams (6 mins), Emily Beeney (8), Tilly Tillings (11), Ailsa Naylor (14)
Scorers: Alice Sharp 15-F, Georgie Twigg 51-F
Squad: Grace O’Hanlon (GK); Phoebe Willars, Georgie Twigg (Capt.), Emily Atkinson, Ella Burnley, Olivia Chilton, Emily Defroand, Susie Catlin, Alice Sharp, Izzy Petter, Robyn Collins.
Subs: Hannah Denison (12 mins), Holly Payne (15), Emily Rowlands (22), Stevi Fisher-Norton (31)
Match Official: Thea Hitchcock
Umpires: Lelia Sacré and Rebecca Woodcock