Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
Clifton Robinsons 1 Surbiton 4
Surbiton and Holcombe are still battling to finish top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League at the end of the regular season after both teams won away from home. Goals from Beth Bingham and Leah Wilkinson earned Holcombe a 2-0 win at Buckingham, but Surbiton won 4-1 at Clifton Robinsons to stay one point behind the Kent club.
Holcombe’s victory also kept Clifton’s playoff hopes alive as they remained three points behind fourth placed Buckingham with two games to play.
At an extremely windy Coombe Dingle Sports Complex, Surbiton attacked from the start, Michaela Curtis shooting past the left post in the sixth minute. The deadlock was broken in the 13th minute, Giselle Ansley’s drag-flick nestling in the netting to Sophie Trigg’s right from Surbiton’s third penalty corner.
Six minutes later, Georgie Twigg’s angled pass from the left was tapped in by Olivia Chilton from the centre of the circle to double the visitors’ lead. With a two goal advantage, Surbiton seemed to lose concentration in defence, allowing the division’s leading goalscorer, Claire Thomas to pull a goal back from open play in the 23rd minute to give Clifton’s supporters a boost with her 15th goal of the campaign.
Seven minutes before half time, Surbiton restored their two goal advantage, Ansley once more drag-flicking the ball into Clifton’s goal netting to establish a 3-1 half time lead.
The only goal of the second half came in the 53rd minute, Twigg scoring against her former club with an angled shot in open play to become Surbiton’s leading goalscorer this season with six goals.
Clifton forced five penalty corners in as many minutes late in the game in their effort to make an unlikely comeback, but their playoff hopes hinge on a visit to Holcombe and a home game against East Grinstead, whilst they will be hoping that Buckingham slip up at home to the University of Birmingham and at Slough.
Holcombe and Surbiton have qualified for the playoffs. Third placed East Grinstead dropped to seven points behind Holcombe after Canterbury won their first league match of the season, 2-1 at Polo Farm to delay automatic relegation for another week.
Bowdon Hightown are mathematically safe from the Promotion Tournament following their 1-0 win at the University of Birmingham, who were joined on 13 points by Slough, but with a two goal superior goal difference. Slough’s 0-0 home draw with Beeston ended the Nottingham club’s playoff hopes.
Scorer: Claire Thomas 23-F
Squad: Nicola Moss, Aileen Davis, Hannah Coulson (Capt.), Holly Savage, Zoe Leach, Maria Jones, Natasha Marke-Jones, Claire Thomas, Alex Ogilby, Catherine Macaulay, Sophie Trigg (GK).
Subs: Carol Middough (8 mins), Victoria McCabe (11), Kitty Chapple (14). Sub not used: Lisa Daley
Cards: Green: Natasha Marke-Jones (38 mins)
Squad: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Georgie Twigg, Holly Payne, Emily Atkinson, Ella Burnley, Olivia Chilton, Susie Catlin, Alice Sharp, Izzy Petter, Robyn Collins, Michaela Curtis.
Subs: Sarah Evans (Capt.) (8 mins), Hannah Martin (10), Darcy Bourne (10), Emily Defroand (11), Giselle Ansley (12)
Cards: Green: Susie Catlin (58 mins), Sarah Evans (64 mins)
Match Official: Richard Hill
Umpires: Caroline Frye and Gill Lord
Images: SmifSports Colin Pike