Surbiton clinch regular season title with four games to spare

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division

Buckingham 2 Surbiton Ladies 5 (Sat)

Surbiton Ladies 2 Holcombe 1 (Sun)

Two victories over a hectic doubleheader weekend ensured that Surbiton Ladies will finish top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division for the fifth time in six years and qualify for Europe.

In both matches, Surbiton had to come from behind before coming out on top in what is becoming yet another successful season for the Sugden Road club.

At Stowe School, Natasha James put Buckingham ahead in the seventh minute after Sabbie Heesh’s kick clearance found its way straight to Buckingham’s leading goalscorer to notch her ninth goal of the campaign. Surbiton levelled in the 17th minute as Erica Sanders, Surbiton’s top scorer converted a penalty corner.

Five minutes later, Susie Catlin put Surbiton ahead from open play, only for Buckingham to strike a psychological blow a minute before half time when Lottie Porter equalised to leave all to play for in the second half.

Neither side scored in the third quarter, but Surbiton pulled away in the fourth, the final 5-2 scoreline not proving to be true reflection of a game which was much closer for the first 53 minutes.

In the 54th minute, Sanders scored her tenth goal of the season from the penalty spot, slotting the ball past Buckingham goalkeeper, Ella Jackson into the netting just above the backboard.

Further goals from Holly Payne in the 61st minute and Hannah Martin with three minutes left, took Surbiton ever closer to the finishing line of European qualification.

That line was crossed on Sunday after Hampstead & Westminster lost 2-1 at East Grinstead and Surbiton won by the same scoreline at Sugden Road, having overcome the shock of falling behind after just 41 seconds, Lorna Jane Cruickshank helping her team try and rebound from losing 4-1 at home to Hampstead on Saturday.

Surbiton were back on level terms in the 24th minute, Jenna Woolven attacking the goal from the right before slipping the ball under Holcombe goalkeeper, Rose Thomas.

The winner came three minutes after half time when Sarah Evans attacked down the right and crossed for Alice Sharp to finish and ensure that Surbiton replaced Holcombe as the Premier Division regular season winners.

Hampstead’s defeat saw East Grinstead close to within one point of the London club as the teams are likely to battle for which team will finish second and third.  Fourth placed Buckingham have a six point cushion over fifth placed Loughborough following their 3-2 win at Clifton Robinsons.

Loughborough saw their playoff hopes severely dented as the University of Birmingham found their form, winning 3-1 at home a day after a 2-1 win at Clifton. Loughborough had beaten Beeston 1-0 on Saturday.

Bowdon Hightown are now facing serious threats of losing their ever present status in the Premier Division, trailing Birmingham by five points after a 3-2 defeat at Beeston. Birmingham go to Bowdon next weekend in a key relegation battle.

Buckingham v Surbiton

Buckingham:

Scorers: Natasha James 7-F, Lottie Porter 34-F

Squad: Ella Jackson (GK); Zoe Shipperley, Abbie Brant, Megan Lewis-Williams, Frankie Scott, 

Lottie Porter, Alex Naughalty (Capt.), Katrina Nicholson, Lauren Thomas, Natasha James, 

Rebecca van Arrowsmith.

Subs: Sophie Robinson (8 mins), Madeleine Newlyn (8), Kirsty Freshwater (8), Kitty Higgins (9), 

Millie Holme (9).

Surbiton:

Scorers: Erica Sanders 17-PC, 54-PS; Susie Catlin 22-F, Holly Payne 61-F, Hannah Martin 67-F

Squad: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Hannah Martin, Holly Payne, Emily Atkinson, Ella Burnley, Erica Sanders, Susie Catlin, Alice Sharp, Robyn Collins, Eloise Stenner, Emily Guckian.

Subs: Jenna Woolven (4 mins), Emily Defroand (5), Sarah Evans (Capt.) (6), Holly Munro (9), 

Darcy Bourne (14).

Match Official: Andrew Marson

Umpires: Gill Lord and Clare White

Surbiton v Holcombe

Surbiton:

Scorers: Jenna Woolven 24-F, Alice Sharp 38-F

Squad: Sabbie Heesh (GK); Sarah Evans (Capt.), Hannah Martin, Holly Payne, Emily Atkinson, 

Ella Burnley, Erica Sanders, Alice Sharp, Robyn Collins, Eloise Stenner, Emily Guckian.

Subs: Emily Defroand (6), Susie Catlin (7), Jenna Woolven (8), Darcy Bourne (10), Holly Munro (11).

Holcombe:

Scorer: Lorna Jane Cruickshank 1-F

Squad: Rose Thomas (GK); Jo Westwood, Emma Trunks, Sarah Jones, Lorna Jane Cruickshank, 

Alice Wills, Philippa Lewis, Harriet Pittard, Steph Elliott (Capt.), Leah Wilkinson, Charlotte Watson.

Subs: Charlotte Daly (7), Heather McEwan (7), Candice Manuel (9), Beth Bingham (10), Issy Davison (12).

Match Official: Jo Pennycook

Umpires: Annette Harvey and Rob Jenkins

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