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First Half Thriller Delays Championship Celebration

Surbiton came from behind in a 1st half thriller to delay Old Georgians’ Championship celebrations

Men’s Hockey League Premier Division Review – 26 March 2022

Reigning champions Surbiton delayed Old Georgians’ coronation for another week after coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division champions elect at St. George’s College in a Saturday night floodlit thriller.

261958335 4566323350125457 2174383288648031189 n - First Half Thriller Delays Championship Celebration - Surbiton came from behind in a 1st half thriller to delay Old Georgians' Championship celebrations image - @smifsports
Images Peter Smith – SmifSports

After 13 minutes, Old Georgians were cruising towards the first Premier Division title in their history after former Surbiton player James Tindall gave them a third minute lead from open play and Sam Ward converted a 13th minute penalty corner conversion to leave Surbiton trailing 2-0. However, Surbiton were back level by half time, Gareth Furlong clinically converting a brace of penalty corners in the 29th and 33rd minutes with neither team able to find a winner in the second half.

Wimbledon kept up the pressure with a 6-1 victory at East Grinstead to trail the leaders by eight points with just three games to play. Ed Horler opened the scoring from open play in the ninth minute before Liam Ansell doubled their advantage with an 18th minute penalty corner conversion. Jamie Wallace pulled a goal back in the 22nd minute from open play but Ansell restored Wimbledon’s two goal lead from open play in the 31st minute. Wimbledon added three further open play goals in the second half, Ben Arnold scoring in the 46th minute, Evan Kimber in the 61st and Horler netting with five minutes remaining to hand East Grinstead their second 6-1 home defeat of the season, with Wallace also their lone scorer when Surbiton won 6-1 in October.

Wimbledon lead Surbiton by five points in the race for the second European qualification place and Holcombe leapfrogged Hampstead & Westminster into fourth place, on goals scored after both teams ended up on 29 points and a goal difference of plus 8, but only after a last gasp win at Holcombe Park.

Josh Kelly put Hampstead 1-0 up in the tenth minute from open play, only for Nick Bandurak to level in the 22nd minute from a penalty corner. Hampstead retook the lead in the 45th minute from Matt Guise-Brown’s penalty corner conversion, but Jake Owen equalised for Holcombe in the 56th minute. Hampstead led for a third time courtesy of Stephen Kelly’s 61st minute open play goal but Bandurak had an immediate answer, making the score 3-3 a minute later. Holcombe chose the right moment to lead for the first time in the match, Tim Guise-Brown converting a penalty corner conversion in the penultimate minute to all but end both teams’ slim hopes of European qualification.

Following England Hockey’s announcement on the Friday that only one team would be relegated from both Premier Divisions, the relegation battle took another twist as one week after moving off the bottom of the table, the University of Exeter found themselves two points adrift of safety following Durham University’s 1-0 home win over Beeston. Jakob Schmidt was Durham’s hero with a 54th minute open play effort, although Beeston missed a penalty stroke.

Exeter battled to a 2-2 draw with Oxted in Surrey after Mark Galloway gave Oxted a tenth minute lead from open play. Charlie Taylor and Max Lowrey both converted penalty corners before half time to turn the match around for the Devon students, but Nick Giles rescued a point for Oxted with a 45th minute penalty stroke.

Brooklands Manchester University maintained their top flight status without playing due to their scheduled bye week as the University of Exeter can no longer overtake them.

PosTeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Old Georgians17151176156146
2Wimbledon17122363263738
3Surbiton17103466343233
4Holcombe179265143829
5Hampstead & Westminster179264537829
6East Grinstead1732122862-3411
Premier Division Top 6
PosTeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Oxted156273245-1320
2Beeston165383140-918
3Brooklands MU154473062-3216
4Durham University1631121759-4210
5University of Exeter1622123652-168
Premier Division Bottom 5

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