50 not out! Giselle Ansley’s treble sees leaders Surbiton make it half a century of league games unbeaten

Olympic gold medallist Giselle Ansley’s hat-trick stretched Surbiton Ladies’ unbeaten league streak to an incredible 50 games in a top-of-the-table clash with Holcombe on Saturday.

The league leaders and defending champions beat second-placed Holcombe 4-1 maintain their stranglehold on the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division as they enter the winter break.

Ansley scored from penalty corners in the fifth and 11th minute as Surbiton dominated the first half.

Beckie Middleton added a third in the 43rd minute and Ansley got her hat-trick from the penalty spot after Holcombe scored through Eleanor Watton.

IN CONTROL: Surbiton were rarely troubled by Holcombe. Picture courtesy of Simon Odell

Surbiton’s last league loss was more than two-and-a-half years ago when they were beaten 2-0 at home by Leicester, and Ansley hailed Saturday as a special day.

She said: “It was the 50th unbeaten game.  Since February 2014 we have been unbeaten in the league so it was a pretty special win for us and it was a really good team performance.

“It is always nice when all the training you do on flicking on stuff pays off when it comes to the  match.

“I’m really pleased but it takes all the other girls to win the corners for me to actually to step up and flick them so it was a great team performance.”

Head coach Brett Garrard however was already looking at keeping the unbeaten run going.

He said: “I don’t look at the records and the stats on that.

“I feel that we have made progress in our performances in the first half of the season.

“We focus week to week on the areas we are looking at and I want that to continue in the second half of the season.

“It was a very pleasing result and a really good way to finish the first half of the season.

“The first half was probably the best 35 minutes that we have played all season.

“We weren’t quite as good in the second half but that is credit to Holcombe.

“They are a good team and we knew they were going to come out strong in the second half to try to get back into the game.”

GOLDEN GIRL: Team GB’s Maddie Hinch was in the crowd to watch her old Holcombe teammates

Surbiton came out strong staight from the first whistle and set the tone for the game by forcing a penalty corner in the second minute.

Three minutes later another penalty corner led to the first goal as Ansley swept in – with an almost repeat manoeuvre resulting in her second.

Holcombe were much more competitive in the second half but the decisive moment came when Surbiton broke forward and Middleton was given too much space to smash a shot beyond Grace Lawes in the Holcombe goal.

Holcombe pulled a goal back when Watton scored from another penalty corner but Surbiton kept attacking and were rewarded with a final goal in the 69th minute as Abi Robinson was brought down under the challenge of Lawes.

Ansley strode up to coolly slot home the penalty stroke to grab her hat-trick.

Garrard added: “The third goal was decisive and set us up for the win.  I said to the girls at half time we needed another goal.

“To make it 3-0 it made their life tougher they really had to come out and try to play and that gave us more space to play.”

Feature image courtesy of Tim Reder, with thanks

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