Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
Surbiton 3 East Grinstead 1
Surbiton remained three points behind leaders Holcombe after coming from behind to beat East Grinstead 3-1 at Sugden Road on Saturday. For the second week running, East Grinstead took the lead through Sophie Bray but ended up losing the match, having lost 2-1 at home to Holcombe in their first outdoor league game of 2019.
At push back time, Surbiton trailed Holcombe by six points after Beeston lost 3-0 at Holcombe Park earlier on Saturday. Surbiton were without seven players in the GB squad which had lost 3-0 to Australia in Perth, whilst East Grinstead were missing Ellie Rayer, also in Perth and Laura Unsworth, a spectator due to injury. However with Bray having recently announced her international retirement, she was available for the West Sussex club in their attempt to display their playoff credentials.
Surbiton were caught out in the fourth minute when Bray finished off a well worked penalty corner routine with a shot into the top left corner to the delight of the visiting supporters. Under threat of losing an unprecedented third league match in a row, Surbiton equalised from the penalty spot in the 18th minute, Georgie Twigg slotting the stroke past East Grinstead goalkeeper Millie Regan before celebrating not only putting her team back on level terms but becoming Surbiton’s leading goalscorer with four goals.
From this point, Surbiton played some excellent passing hockey and were rewarded in the 24th minute when Izzy Petter’s shot was neatly deflected by Olivia Chilton at the left post to give Surbiton the lead for the first time in the match.
Four minutes later, Surbiton scored an insurance goal, Jenna Woolven joining Twigg on four goals for the season by finishing off another impressive attacking move to leave East Grinstead trailing 3-1 at half time.
The second half was quieter with defences more dominant, resulting in goals more likely to come from penalty corner awards than open play although Woolven came close to scoring Surbiton’s fourth goal midway through the second half.
Surbiton had to see out the last two minutes with ten players after Emily Atkinson sat on the naughty step after being shown a yellow card, but they hung on to set up a top of the table clash with leaders Holcombe at Sugden Road on 23 February at 1 pm.
East Grinstead’s defeat saw them drop to fourth, a point behind Buckingham, 1-0 winners at Clifton Robinsons. Beeston missed the opportunity to take advantage with their defeat at Holcombe. With Bowdon Hightown without a game as they were winning indoor promotion in Vienna, Canterbury and the University of Birmingham drew 1-1 in Kent, Birmingham moving a point clear of ninth placed Slough whilst Canterbury closed to within three points of the Berkshire club.
Scorers: Georgie Twigg 18-PS, Olivia Chilton 24-F, Jenna Woolven 28-F
Squad: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Georgie Twigg (Capt.), Holly Payne, Emily Atkinson, Ella Burnley, Olivia Chilton, Susie Catlin, Jenna Woolven, Alice Sharp, Izzy Petter, Michaela Curtis.
Subs: Alice Klugman (8 mins), Darcy Bourne (8), Emily Guckian (15), Peggy Winterborn (18). Sub not used: Autumn Brown
Cards: Green: Olivia Chilton (60 mins). Yellow: Emily Atkinson (68 mins).
Scorer: Sophie Bray 4-PC
Squad: Millie Regan (GK); Rosie Hope, Bridget Blackwood, Pip Lock, Zoe Burrell, Cathy Nicholson, Chloe Palmer, Chloe Brown, Sophie Bray (Capt.), Ashlie Samra, Natasha Brennan.
Subs: Georgie Blackwood (8 mins), Rosario Villagra (8), Lucy Holder (17), Coca Hall (24).
Card: Green: Holly Payne (48 mins).
Match Official: James Boylan
Umpires: Caroline Frye and David Howell