Men’s Hockey League Premier Division
Surbiton 3 Beeston 4
Surbiton’s three point lead over second placed Hampstead and Westminster evaporated during a mad three minute spell at Sugden Road on Saturday night when Beeston came back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 and leave the race for top spot in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division up for grabs when the league resumes in February after the mid-season break.
Compared with the 5-3 goalfest in the first meeting in Nottingham, the first half in an equally chilly Elmbridge was much calmer, Surbiton leading 1-0 at half time courtesy of Alan Forsyth’s 32nd minute finish.
When Willie Marshall’s clinical penalty corner conversion in the 44nd minute doubled Surbiton’s lead, it seemed that the reigning league champions were heading into the break with their three point lead intact and even though Richard Lawrence scored from the penalty spot to reduce the deficit in the 52nd minute, any concerns were dispelled when Forsyth restored Surbiton’s two goal advantage with his 20th league goal of the campaign with just twelve minutes remaining.
However, what nobody could have predicted was that Beeston would intensify their attacks on the Surbiton goal in order to make probably one of the most impressive comebacks in national league history.
In the 60th minute, Henry Croft scored Beeston’s second goal, raising slight concerns amongst the home supporters. Those concerns reached crisis point in the 63rd minute when with the Surbiton defence at full stretch, Beeston scored twice, James Albery netting the equaliser with Nick Park scoring the winning goal from the next attack.
With three minutes to play, Surbiton replaced goalkeeper Taylor Seager-Green with Lewis Prosser installed as a kicking back, but the tactic failed to work, Surbiton’s last hopes resting with a last minute penalty corner shot which went past the right post to Beeston’s delight.
As with the preceding women’s game, Beeston celebrated the mother of all comebacks as they kept themselves in contention for both a playoff place and even a first place finish with eight games to play.
Surbiton’s supporters experienced dêja-vu as both first teams also lost at home on 3 March when Holcombe were the visitors and again Surbiton Ladies lost 2-1 and Surbiton Men 4-3.
Surbiton go into the break with a thirteen better goal difference over Hampstead, 2-0 winners over the University of Exeter on Sunday. Beeston closed the gap to three points with their win, with Holcombe a point further behind in fourth with a 2-1 home win over Wimbledon.
East Grinstead lost ground after being held 2-2 at Sevenoaks on Saturday evening, Sevenoaks earning their third point of the season. Seventh placed Brooklands Manchester University beat sixth placed Reading 2-1.
There is one match outstanding before the winter break as the University of Exeter host Wimbledon on 2 December in a game rearranged due to Wimbledon’s participation in the Euro Hockey League.
Scorers: Alan Forsyth 32-F, 58-F; William Marshall 44-PC
Squad: Lewis Prosser, Tom Sorsby, Jonathan Gall (Capt.), William Marshall, James Royce, Alan Forsyth, Brendan Creed, David Goodfield, Hayden Beltz, Nicholas Parkes, Taylor Seager-Green (GK).
Subs: Arjan Drayton Chana (4 mins), Conor Williamson (6), Sam Spencer (8), Rory Calnan (10).
Sub not used: Ben Boon
Cards: Green: James Royce (7 mins), Tom Sorsby (34 mins). Yellow: David Goodfield (55 mins), Arjan Drayton Chana (63 mins).
Scorers: Richard Lawrence 52-PS, Henry Croft 60-F, James Albery 63-F, Nick Park 63-F
Squad: Simon Hujwan (GK); Ollie Willars, Kyle Marshall, Robbie Gleeson, Joe Sharp, James Albery, James Sutcliffe, Quentin Le Maire, Richard Lawrence, Chris Proctor, Gareth Griffiths.
Subs: Nick Park (4 mins), Henry Croft (5), Stephen Lawrence (Capt.) (8 mins), Matthew Crookshanks (8 mins), Alex Blumfield.
Card: Green: Chris Proctor (25 mins).
Match Official: David Collier
Umpires: Dave Dowdall and Paul Walker
Report: Colin Pike