Saturday, May 25, 2024

England Hockey League Finals: Hosts Surbiton set up Old Georgians finale

Surbiton — In front of onlooking GB men’s coach Paul Revington, Gareth Furlong showed his penalty corner threat and Struan Walker once again showcased his eye for goal as Surbiton secured a European berth next season and set up a men’s and women’s double bill in the Premier Division League Finals.

Surbiton were good value for their 4-1 win over Hampstead & Westminster. Mark Pearn’s side, who will play their first final since 2020, will take on champions Old Georgians in Sunday’s showpiece. Ashley Jackson’s side are gunning for a hat-trick of national titles but were made to work for their 4-3 win over a dogged Wimbledon side.

Pace, aerial and attacking threat saw Surbiton to the league denouement. Stu Rushmere finished a fine PC move, a slip pass and deflected finish by the GB man. Tim Nurse, a constant threat, scored Surbiton’s second before Josh Kelly gave the North Londoners hope with a third quarter finish.

It didn’t last as Furlong, who has been drafted into the GB programme, fired a PC bullet two minutes later to keep their two-goal cushion. H&W couldn’t find a way back and Walker finished a gallivanting breakaway, latching on to a long pass and rocketing into the net.

In the last match of the day at Sugden Road, Euro Hockey League bronze medallists Old Georgians edged past Wimbledon, despite leading 3-0 and one foot in the final.

Old Georgians were a cut above in the first half, with George Pinner having little to nothing to do as his team-mates made hay in the Wimbledon half. Ed Carson opened the scoring at the end of the first before brother Tom doubled up, on the dive and guiding in one handed after fine build-up work from Ashley Jackson and Alan Forsyth.

Surbiton advanced to Sunday’s men’s showpiece against Old Georgians PIC: Graeme Wilcockson

The Scot was in the mix at both ends: first taking the brunt of a PC flick into his body, which was going wide. Moments later, he missed a penalty stroke as Ore Ogunlana, the former Surbiton stopper, snaffled Forsyth’s low flick.

Not to be undone, OGs countered once more. Defender Liam Sanford and Forsyth were suddenly in the circle, the latter setting up an easy tap in. 3-0 and coasting, until Ben Francis and Jack Waller, in the space of four minutes, turned the heat up in this semi-final.

Sam Hiha kept OGs 4-2 in front before the excellent Ogunlana was pulled with six minutes left and Wimbledon went within one goal as Sam Hooper struck from a PC. Their 11 outfielders did keep OGs at bay, but they didn’t have the cutting edge required to take this into a shoot-out.

Total Hockey

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