English hockey was handed a huge shot in the arm on Friday when Hampstead & Westminster and Surbiton produced brilliant opening wins at the EHL in Barcelona.
Domestic champions H&W produced their first ever European victory with a battling 2-1 win over Dutch side HGC, while Surbiton surged to a 5-2 win over hosts Real Club de Polo.
Matt Guise-Brown, predictably, started the ball rolling with an incisive penalty corner flick against HGC and Richard Smith delighted the Londoners with another strike in the second-half.
A Seve van Ass rebound reply with four minutes left gave Hampstead some nervy moments late on, but they held on to set up a clash on Sunday against German side Mannheimer. The winner will progress to the Final 8 at Easter.
Surbiton, who have scored almost at will in the English Premier Division this season (23 goals in three games), took their rampant form to Spain and put in a full-throttle performance against Polo.
Luke Taylor restores the 2 goal cushion AGAIN! Surbiton showing resolve here #EHLKO16
— Euro Hockey League (@EHLHockeyTV) October 4, 2019
Alan Forsyth led from the front with a fine hat-trick, starting and finishing a fine display as Mark Pearn’s side progressed to face Dinamo Kazan, who beat Saint Germain 4-2.
Luke Taylor also bagged a brace as Surbiton managed to steal some breathing space in the second-half after Polo kept the game in the balance as they twice responded to the visitors’ clincial circle penetration.
The only worries came with injury concerns to Brendan Creed and Dave Beckett.