Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division
Beeston 1 Surbiton 3
Surbiton Ladies virtually booked their place in the end of the season playoffs with their eleventh win in twelve league games as they completed the league double over Beeston at Nottingham Hockey Centre on Saturday afternoon.
In sunny but chilly conditions, both teams forced penalty corners in the first two minutes without reward. In the first match at Sugden Road, Surbiton had won 3-0 with all three goals coming in the first sixteen minutes, but in the return, Beeston goalkeeper Nicki Cochrane saved from Erica Sanders before Sanders contrived to hit the post a minute later.
Beeston were grateful to Paige Gillott in defence with Katie McKee, Nadia Benallal and Heidi Devey all making timely tackles as the hosts tried to tightly mark the Surbiton forwards.
It was only a matter of time before Surbiton would break the deadlock and the breakthrough duly came in the 19th minute when Hannah Martin crossed from the right for Sanders to score at the right post.
Cochrane made an excellent double save in the 25th minute from Martin and Jenna Woolven to ensure that Beeston only trailed 1-0 at half time.
The Surbiton defence was caught out within seconds of the start of the second half when Agustina Fernandez Merlo, having lost possession in the Surbiton 23, determinedly won the ball back before smashing the ball past Sabbie Heesh from the edge of the circle to bring Beeston level.
Beeston were unlucky to fall behind for a second time in the 46th minute as Surbiton broke away from the hosts’ second and last penalty corner, but a fantastic run from youngster, Darcy Bourne whilst shadowed by Beeston’s defenders culminated in a calm finish to restore Surbiton’s lead.
Bourne was also involved in Surbiton’s third goal, running down the right wing before unleashing a penetrating crossfield pass for Martin to score on the turn from the left of the circle with four minutes to play.
Surbiton go into the winter break with a six point advantage over Hampstead & Westminster after the London club won 3-1 at the University of Birmingham. Although they only have four games remaining, East Grinstead are in a strong position to qualify for the playoffs in third following their 4-0 home win over Holcombe.
Clifton Robinsons drew 2-2 at Loughborough Students but will drop out of the playoff places if Buckingham win their rearranged game at Holcombe on 15 December. Beeston’s defeat saw them stay in eighth place and bottom team Bowdon Hightown trail Birmingham by two points with a game in hand.
Scorer: Agustina Fernandez Merlo 36-F
Squad: Nicki Cochrane (GK & Capt.); Ali Eadie, Alice Huddlestone, Agustina Fernandez Merlo, Lauren Burrell, Katie McKee, Georgia Brown, Jess Hood, Annie Dalton, Heidi Devey, Paige Gillott.
Subs: Tara Aitchison (4 mins), Harriet Dougan (4), Mairi Drummond (5), Nadia Benallal (6), Sylvia Rose (11).
Scorers: Erica Sanders 19-F, Darcy Bourne 46-F, Hannah Martin 66-F
Squad: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Georgie Twigg (Capt.), Hannah Martin, Holly Payne, Emily Atkinson, Ella Burnley, Erica Sanders, Susie Catlin, Alice Sharp, Holly Munro, Eloise Stenner.
Subs: Jenna Woolven (6), Emily Guckian (6), Darcy Bourne (7), Issy Carey (9).
Match Official: Bev Deakin
Umpires: Gill Lord and Andy Poulain