Surbiton coach Todd Williams was relieved after seeing his side earn a narrow 2-0 victory over Hampstead & Westminster to join East Grinstead level on points at the top of the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League Premier Division.
A single goal in each half was enough to seal the win; Matt Daly scoring a penalty corner after 17 minutes before David Beckett’s late close-range finish.
Surbiton relied on a number of impressive saves from keeper David Kettle as they survived a second half onslaught by the visitors.
“We were second best and to win in that way gives us something to smile about but we struggled all day,” said Williams.
“We only had about four people who played really well- Kettle, Lewis Prosser, Rupert Shipperley and Mike Watt and they kept us in it. We got a win when maybe we shouldn’t.”
— Surbiton HockeyClub (@SurbitonHC) October 11, 2014
Surbiton came into the match on the back of a somewhat underserved 4-0 defeat to East Grinstead last weekend and knew they faced more tricky opposition in the shape of third-placed Hampstead.
The home side started brightly and looked comfortable stroking the ball about in possession. However, it was Hampstead who had the first real chance, with Richard Hildreth in loads of space down the right, forcing the first of many Kettle saves.
“We only had about four people who played really well- Kettle, Lewis Prosser, Rupert Shipperley and Mike Watt and they kept us in it. We got a win when maybe we shouldn’t.” – Todd Williams
Minutes later Surbiton’s Rob Moore drew a foul in the box and the resulting penalty corner was drilled into the bottom corner by last season’s division top scorer Daly.
Surbiton continued to impress in the first half, with Daly and strike partner Alan Forsyth both seeing glorious opportunities saved by Ian Scanlon.
Despite their dominance in possession Hampstead continued to look dangerous on the counter and Kettle made another one on one save from Olli Didham as the Surbiton high line was exposed.
The second half took on a different complexion as Hampstead laid siege to the Surbiton goal, with Kettle making save after save.
Hampstead won a penalty corner deep into the second half but it was deflected over by Scott Evans as Surbiton’s defence drew deeper and deeper.
But they eased home nerves with five minutes to go on the counter as a cross from the right was received by Beckett and comfortably put away.
Surbiton Ladies first team also won; their 2-1 win over Clifton retaining their position at the summit of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division. After falling behind in the third minute, they turned it around with goals from Abi Robinson and Rebecca Herbert.
Photo: Ady Kerry/NOW: Pensions