Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Old Georgians bag England Hockey Premier Division hat-trick in style

Surbiton — Old Georgians’ old guard paved the way for a hat-trick of men’s league titles on Sunday as they repelled the home threat of Surbiton to secure an 18th league win in a row. 

Old Georgians, who have lost just three times in the last three regular seasons, came from a goal down to beat Surbiton 3-1. George Pinner continued his pantomime villain status by saving a crucial penalty stroke, Ashley Jackson and Dan Shingles combined for OGs’ second and Henry Weir was exceptional as No.1 runner. There are still plenty of legs left in these stalwarts.

After Euro Hockey League bronze, their form and confidence was high as they rode the storm thrown at them from Surbiton’s attacking threats, aided by a noisy OGs support and a Boat Race tannoy from the sidelines.

Sandown thoroughbreds may be only up the road but this was some physical, running battle to end the league season. And barring league bragging rights, this was also an audition for plenty of Olympic berths up for grabs. Plenty of GB’s young starlets were on show, while there was much to savour from the midfield battle between Lee Morton and Stu Rushmere. OGs’ Alan Forsyth, playing on his former ground, was excellent all weekend.

Surbiton’s opener came in two phases. A break out from their baseline saw four passes to within OGs’ 23m line. Chris Griffiths then fed an aerial from the left to dangerman Struan Walker at the back post. His strength saw him retain the ball before lashing home past Pinner.

As the first quarter ended, OGs were finding openings on the right, the best chance falling to Sam Hiha, who dived in on a whipped slap across goal. Surbiton held the advantage as the hooter sounded.

The equaliser was another made in Scotland goal. Morton carried into the 23m found Tom Carson on the right and he returned to the Scot who continued his run and lifted over James Mazarelo.

With the next phase, OGs found themselves with a penalty corner which ended with Shingles grounded. The umpires conferred over a stroke, but it underlined the physicality of this final.

There was little muscle needed by Pinner when Surbiton were awarded a second-half penalty stroke and the chance to regain the lead. 

But Luke Taylor scuffed his shot as Pinner, who was going the wrong way, saw the tame strike find his pads. With Taylor left despondent, the former GB man jumped up, turned to the stunned crowd and put his finger to his helmet.

They were made to pay 30 seconds from the hooter. Jackson dragged from the top and Shingles deflected in. A stalwart’s goal in this fast-paced, rambunctious encounter. 

At the other end, Weir charged down two PCs as Surbiton bid to take the final into a shoot-out. It led to OGs countering and James Carson turning in from close range. It was perhaps fitting that a Carson name ended with a goal. The brothers continue to be a menace for defences, Europe included.

Earlier, Wimbledon secured the third Euro Hockey League place courtesy of a 4-3 shoot-out win. It finished 2-2 in normal time as Wimbledon came from two down with goals from David Condon and Iain Sloan. The win was fully justified.

Total Hockey

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