Week 14 featured match review: Surbiton 3-2 Beeston

Matt Daly in action for Surbiton against Sheffield Hallam

Matt Daly continued his rich vein of goalscoring form as his brace of penalty corners were enough to give Surbiton a 3-2 win over league leaders Beeston at Sugden Road.

With Wimbledon, who Surbiton drew 4-4 with last week, breathing down their necks for a playoff place three points was a must for the Sugden Road side who raced into a 3-0 half time lead before being given a nervous time of it by Sam Ward and Richard Lawrence’s second half strikes.

The game’s first chance fell to Beeston. Good work from James Blackwell played in Sam Ward on the right but as the league’s top scorer bore down on goal David Kettle got out quickly to block the chance. A minute later Surbiton drew first blood. Michael Watt burst into the D with the ball. Initially, George Pinner did well to force the No. 24 away from goal, however when it seemed the chance had gone, Watt spun and fired a low strike into the corner beyond the goalkeeper to make it 1-0.

After ten minutes Surbiton found themselves down to ten men as James Royce was shown a yellow card. Three minutes later things got even worse for the hosts as Rob Moore was also sent to the sin bin, allowing Beeston a two man advantage. The visitors pressed, finding space on both flanks as Surbiton were penned into their own half. Beeston thought they’d clawed one back almost immediately - Stuart Pilgrim’s reverse stick shot deflected off the defender and beyond Kettle but was ruled out by the umpires for a dangerous ball. Beeston continued to dominate but crucially some excellent defensive work from Captain Ben Tibble and Jonny Gall kept the Bees at bay. Surbiton still managed to threaten during this period but Chris Grassick was kept out by Pinner at the near post and Tim Pinnock’s penalty corner was charged down. With six minutes left to the break and Surbiton up to a full team once more, they doubled their lead. Daly, who netted a hat-trick last week beat Pinner to his left with a low penalty corner to give his team some breathing space. On the stroke of half time it got even better for the hosts as Daly repeated the trick, this time going low to Pinner’s right.

Beeston took just two minutes of the second half to haul themselves back into the contest. Chris Proctor made his way down the left and crossed on the reverse to Ward who deflected the ball into the net for his 17th goal of the season. Beeston ramped up the pressure and pegged Surbiton back but once more the defence held firm, limiting the league leaders to only half chances. With 20 minutes left however, the home defence was breached for a second time. Ollie Willars’ penalty corner was saved by Kettle but the rebound fell to Richard Lawrence who shot on the turn into the bottom corner to cut the deficit to one. At the other end Watt fizzed a great diagonal ball into the D but a diving Pinnock could not quite get the final touch. Kettle saw off another Willars penalty corner before Pinner made a wonderful save to get his stick to a Daly drag flick low down to his right. Pinner, who appeared to pick up an injury during the warm up then required several minutes of treatment after bravely blocking from Matt Daly who collided with the Great Britain goalkeeper in the process.

Grassick had a fantastic chance to put the game beyond Beeston in the dying moments but somehow Pinner got across to the goal to claw the ball away with a magnificent save. In the dying embers of the game Pilgrim had a glorious opportunity to level the scores, the ball broke to him inside the D on the right but he slapped his shot wide of the far post and Surbiton claimed the three points.

Surbiton Coach Todd Williams was pleased with the improvement shown by his team, telling England Hockey:

“We conceded four against Wimbledon last week so we wanted a better defensive effort this week which we got. Not conceding when we had two fewer players than them was huge. We made some bad decisions to get into that situation but we worked very hard to make sure it didn’t have an impact. I was concerned it might have taken a lot out of us but if anything, it gave us confidence because we defended so well during that period. The first half lead gave us a solid platform to build on and we’re pleased to get the three points.”

He also paid tribute to two goal hero Matt Daly, saying:

“Everything Matt Daly gets now he deserves. He had a whole year out and at times people were saying he may not play again. His rehab was miserable. It wasn’t just a bit of an operation and then back to playing, it was really hard work for him. I’m so pleased he’s back, playing well and scoring lots of goals. It’s great for us but also for him.”

Beeston coach Matt Taylor remained upbeat, despite the disappointment of the defeat, saying:

“We trailed because of some individual errors so at half time we agreed we needed to concentrate more for the next 35 minutes. Man for man we’re as good as they are, so we knew we could win the second half but we didn’t manage to do it by a big enough margin.” He added “We’re still full of confidence going into the upcoming games. Before today we were top by four points and we’re still top even after losing. We’ve set out to win the league so we’ll approach every game positively and I’m confident our squad is good enough to achieve that.”

With news of Wimbledon’s win over Reading filtering through the three points take on even greater significance for the home side. Next week Surbiton face Reading whilst Beeston come up against Sheffield Hallam.