The less than satisfactory build-up to Surbiton’s defeat to Oxted last season has given them fuel for revenge on Sunday. So says Matt Jones, Surbiton’s manager, ahead of a key week for the domestic champions.
Last October saw Surbiton go down 1-0 at Oxted, defeat marking the end of a 31-month undefeated record on the road, while they also failed to score for the first time in six years.
However, beneath the surface there is more to that defeat which is still fresh in Surbiton’s memory. Due to a club v country clash, coach Mark Pearn was forced to field four debutants under-18 in a 14-man squad thanks to missing seven internationals and frantically searching for a No.2 goalkeeper.
“It’s in the history books as a loss but it gives us some fuel for this weekend,” admitted Jones ahead of the clash at Oxted.
On the opening weekend, Oxted beat East Grinstead while Surbiton came from 4-2 down to beat Holcombe 6-4 in a late turnaround.
Again, the scoreline suggests the Medway side were matching the Londoners, although Surbiton’s 52 circle entries and not giving away any PCs suggest otherwise.
“We had great possession throughout the game,” said Jones. “It was good character-testing stuff. It was one for the neutral and a great advert for fast flowing hockey.”
After six pre-season games, the win over a ‘sharp-looking’ Holcombe showed the need to hit the ground running with their multiple threats ahead of the EHL Cup where they face KHC Dragons.
Surbiton also face Malaysia in a friendly before travelling to Belgium.
Meanwhile, University of Durham travel to Holcombe also aiming to make it successive wins to start the season too after overcoming Brooklands MU on the first matchday. They’ll need to be at their best to halt Holcombe though, who were dominant for much of their game against Surbiton, only to be undone in the final quarter.
Beeston host Wimbledon at the Nottingham Hockey Centre as both sides aim to record their first points of the season, a feat both Brookland MU and the University of Exeter will also be hoping to achieve in the day’s other fixture, which will be the first game of the season for the latter.
Holcombe v University of Durham 1pm
Beeston v Wimbledon 2pm
Oxted v Surbiton 2pm
Hampstead & Westminster v East Grinstead 2.30pm
Brooklands MU v University of Exeter 3pm