Reigning champions on course to defend title

Surbiton celebrate their shootout win over Reading

Julia King 7 (PS)
Sandra Frankland 12 (F)

Helen Richardson-Walsh 41, 61 (PC, F)

Surbiton win 4-2 in shoot-out.

Click here for all the scorers, stats and results from today's semi finals.

Surbiton remained on course to defend their title after a dramatic shootout win over Reading at The Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Goals from Julia King and Sandra Frankland had looked set to see them through in normal time but a superb second half display by the Sonning Lane side, who hit back with a brace from Helen Richardson-Walsh took the game to shootout.

Surbiton took the lead on six minutes. A diagonal ball into the circle caused problems and after a stick tackle a penalty stroke was awarded. Julia King stepped up and found the roof of the net with a bullet flick to give her side the lead.

Both sides won penalty corners but Kate Richardson-Walsh was kept out by the defensive runner. Surbiton doubled their lead shortly afterwards. A penalty corner was not properly cleared and the ball was worked back in allowing Sandra Frankland to tap in and make it 2-0.

King drew a good save out of Sarah Ellis from a well hit penalty corner and Charlotte Calnan was agonizingly close to adding another but as the second quarter began Reading worked their way back into the game with Helen Richardson-Walsh growing in influence.

After a good spell of pressure the Sonning Lane side forced two penalty corners in quick succession but Abi Walker was equal to the task saving well from Leah Wilkinson and then Kate Richardson-Walsh to preserve her team’s lead at the break.

Reading had the better of the third quarter as they fought hard to find a way back into the match. Surbiton forced a couple of penalty corners but Hollie Webb’s shots were both saved by Ellis.

Susie Gilbert and Helen Richardson-Walsh continued to ask questions of the Surbiton defence as the pressure mounted. With four minutes gone in the quarter Kate Richardson-Walsh’s pass from a penalty corner was deflected in by a diving Helen Richardson-Walsh bringing their side back into the contest. Although they enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession they were unable to capitalise and went into the final quarter trailing.

Reading continued to knock at the door throughout the final quarter and with nine minutes to go they got their reward. A good driving run by Abi Harper down the right set up Ashlie Caddick and with Surbiton failing to clear their lines, Helen Richardson-Walsh swooped in to score her second and level the match.

Sarah Haycroft’s invention set up Page but her effort flashed wide and then Calnan’s piledriver was deflected over the bar as Reading survived a late Surbiton rally to take the game to a shootout.

Georgie Twigg, Emily Maguire and Haycroft all scored from their efforts but Gilbert was timed out. Ellis then saved from Harriet Tibble to keep it at 2-1 before Helen Richardson-Walsh levelled it up. Abi Robinson scored and then Walker denied Emma Thomas before King calmly rounded the goalkeeper to win it for Surbiton and send them into the final.

Surbiton goalkeeper Abi Walker told England Hockey afterwards:
"The game was a credit to both teams really, it was a real spectacle. We were very pleased with our performance in the first half, and then we dropped off, but that’s credit to Reading, they’re a team that never know when to lie down." she added "We’ve had a bit of a curse at the shootout, we lost in the playoffs two years ago, and then we lost in Europe recently, so I felt like today I had much more of a plan. As soon as the final whistle went, I felt really confident we would win."

Helen Richardson-Walsh was disappointed, but proud saying:
"It’s disappointing to lose in a shootout today, especially as we went 2-0 down - and we weren’t looking in it at all - so to come back and take it to a shootout was credit to the team, the hard work that we put in throughout the game, and disappointing to not win in the end. Abi Walker is a quality goalkeeper and she proved that at the end."

Surbiton await the winner of Canterbury and Clifton for the final whilst Reading will play off for 3rd/4th place, both games tomorrow.  

You can still buy tickets to the final day of the Investec Women's Finals weekend. They are available until midnight online, or on the gate on Sunday.