Men’s Hockey League Premier Division
Wimbledon 0 Surbiton 2
Surbiton closed out the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division regular season, leaving it late to beat local rivals Wimbledon on Sunday afternoon.
Until last season, Surbiton had tended to struggle against Wimbledon but two goals in the last seven minutes enabled the reigning champions to complete the league double, having won 3-1 at Sugden Road on the opening night of the season.
With a much changed squad, due both to international availability and injuries, Surbiton maintained their youth policy by giving a debut to Olly Witts, who came on for the last three minutes of a hard fought local derby.
Wimbledon also witnessed the last game of Iain Lewers’ illustrious career with success at both domestic and international level.
Defences were generally on top In the first half although Ben Boon’s shot went wide right of the goal in the sixth minute and Boon had to be stopped by Wimbledon captain, Ben Arnold following a run towards goal.
Lewers battled with Surbiton’s Hayden Beltz in midfield whilst Wimbledon went close in the 21st minute with a shot going narrowly wide of the left post. Dave Beckett forced a save from Wimbledon goalkeeper James Bailey and Bailey and Arnold had to work together to clear a Surbiton attack late in the first half as Wimbledon maintained their excellent run without conceding a goal.
In the second half, Wimbledon had two penalty corner opportunities to break the deadlock, but Ed Horler fired wide left from the first, and Surbiton goalkeeper, Taylor Seager-Green, who is headed for university next season, saving the second.
Surbiton also had a penalty corner which came to nothing and as the game continued it seemed that history could be made with Wimbledon’s first ever goalless draw in the top flight and Surbiton’s first 0-0 draw for over ten years.
With seven minutes to play, Tom Sorsby ended the agony, sliding towards goal whilst slipping the ball over the goal-line to put Surbiton ahead and become the first opposing player to breach the Wimbledon defence in 440 minutes. Beckett, who has missed games this season through frustrating injuries had the final say in the last minute, followed by a trademark celebration of the 100th goal in Surbiton’s league matches, Surbiton having scored 76 and conceded 24 goals in an entertaining season.
Surbiton finished six points clear of Hampstead & Westminster, 2-1 winners at Brooklands Manchester University. Hampstead will meet Beeston in the playoff semi-finals. Beeston ended Sevenoaks’ two year stay in the Premier Division with a 3-1 victory in Kent.
Surbiton will meet East Grinstead, who finally clinched the fourth and final playoff spot with a 2-0 home win over the University of Exeter.
Reading just missed out on the playoffs on goal difference, finishing fifth above opponents Holcombe after a 3-1 win at Sonning Lane.
Squad: James Bailey (GK); Ben Arnold (Capt.), Ben Tibble, Peter Friend, Ed Horler, Jonny Codling, Iain Lewers, Jonty Griffiths, Eugene Malthouse, Álvaro Portugal Muñoz, Doug Buckley
Subs: Ben Roe (7 mins), Chad Conlon (10), Josh Gravestock (11), Matt Connor (12), Callum Swinnerton-Ions (15).
Cards: Green: Eugene Malthouse (46 mins).
Scorers: Tom Sorsby 63-F, Dave Beckett 70-F
Squad: Tim Atkins, Lewis Prosser, Tom Sorsby, Ben Boon, Jonathan Gall (Capt.), Dave Beckett, William Marshall, David Goodfield, Hayden Beltz, Sam Spencer, Taylor Seager-Green (GK).
Subs: Nicholas Parkes (5 mins), Conor Wlliamson (6), Max Lowrey (9), Scott Evans (9), Olly Witts (67).
Match Official: Richard Chere
Umpires: Martin Twist and Nick White
Colin Pike - Surbiton Hockey