Vitality Women’s Hockey League Premier Division – Top Six
Surbiton 1 Beeston 1
Surbiton were held to a home draw by Beeston, but with other results going in their favour, found themselves in first place on goal difference from Hampstead & Westminster at the end of the day.
A week earlier, Beeston had been denied another 1-1 draw by a late penalty stroke at home to East Grinstead, but avoided defeat at Sugden Road for only the second time in their history in the top flight in their quest to prove that they can compete at the highest level.
Beeston dominated possession for the first three minutes, but fell behind in the eleventh minute, Maddie Long taking full advantage of a turnover by running towards goal and finding the backboard, beating Steph Tirrell to put Surbiton ahead.
The visitors’ defence held firm with Tirrell, Hannah Grieve and Lottie Summers working hard and Surbiton’s penalty corner routine almost handed Beeston an attacking opportunity early in the second quarter when a mis-trapped injection was gratefully retrieved by Mads Newitt to initiate a counter attack out of defence.
Ironically, whilst Surbiton struggled with their penalty corner routine, Beeston’s paid dividends, although they had to wait until the third of three successive awards to equalise after Grieve was denied by Surbiton goalkeeper, Louisa Bray. The third award was manoeuvred to the left of the circle, Cerys Miller levelling a minute before half time, to score Beeston’s third-ever league goal at the Elmbridge venue.
Beeston had a couple of injury concerns, Alice Huddlestone started limping after making a shot on goal and Paige Gillott was unfortunately hit by the ball from close range, but fortunately, both players recovered.
Surbiton’s penalty corner woes continued in the fourth quarter with both Leah Wilkinson and Steph Elliott unable to restore the hosts’ lead and Beeston were denied from their final corner midway through the second half, the home defence clearing after a Bray save.
There was a period when the teams went through a scrappy phase with neither side able to maintain possession and Beeston, having qualified for the Top Six in fifth place, will be the happier of the two teams with the result.
Surbiton became the third team in as many weeks to head the league table after East Grinstead had dethroned the long-time leaders, Hampstead & Westminster, the previous week courtesy of their 2-1 win at Beeston. Hampstead had lost to Wimbledon, and East Grinstead suffered the same fate, going down 3-0 at home to Wimbledon. Hampstead went close to losing a third successive match, having lost 3-2 at Surbiton in their final Phase One game, but rescued a point with a goal three minutes from the end, drawing 3-3 at home to Clifton Robinsons.
Scorer: Maddie Long 11-F
Starters: Lottie Ross, Alice Wills, Sarah Evans (Capt.), Georgie Twigg, Meg Dowthwaite, Holly Payne, Steph Elliott, Louisa Bray (GK), Leah Wilkinson, Alice Sharp, Martha Le Huray.
Subs: Maddie Long (5 mins), Freya Bull (6), Emily Defroand (7), Jenny O’Grady (10).
Cards: Green: Maddie Long (32 mins), Holly Payne (48 mins), Alice Sharp (69 mins).
Scorer: Cerys Miller 34-PC
Starters: Steph Tirrell (GK), Julie Read, Ella Cusack, Alice Huddlestone, Lauren Burrell (Capt.), Hannah Grieve, Bea Bell, Maddie Pendle, Lottie Summers, Lucy Millington, Paige Gillott.
Subs: Mads Newitt (4 mins), Nadia Benallal (5), Cerys Miller (7), Ruby Apoola (7), Martha Lawrence (8).
Cards: Green: Bea Bell (42 mins). Yellow: Mads Newitt (45 mins).
Match Official: James Boylan
Umpires: Karen Fynn and David Howell