All the ac­tion from the fi­nal day of the Pre­mier League sea­son

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS - By Gra­ham Ot­way

BY hold­ing a ‘Dutch­style’ hockey party, Sur­biton at­tracted a crowd of more than 500 to their fi­nal game of the sea­son against their close neigh­bours Wim­ble­don.

With the sun shining, the many chil­dren in the crowd were more than happy to sam­ple the prod­ucts of an ice cream van and their moth­ers smiled when they dis­cov­ered that their £5 en­try fee in­cluded a re­fresh­ing glass of Pros­ecco.

How­ever, later in the af­ter­noon as a live band played mu­sic in the Sug­den Road club­house, one topic dom­i­nated a lot of con­ver­sa­tions

It was the dra­matic Sur­biton fight­back from the depths of de­spair at 3-0 down shortly af­ter half­time to take a point off the Pre­mier League cham­pi­ons when Luke Noblett slammed home a penalty corner with just a minute of the game re­main­ing.

And the Aus­tralian thor­oughly en­joyed the huge cheers from the side­lines which fol­lowed his late strike

“It was just great to be play­ing in front of a big crowd like that,” said the 23-year-old Syd­neysider. “Espe­cially be­cause it was a home game and all my mates were here as well as my mum and day who are over here on hol­i­day.

“And what a great re­ac­tion I got to scor­ing the equaliser in the last two min­utes of the game. It was cer­tainly the loud­est ap­plause I have heard dur­ing my first sea­son over here.

“We showed a lot of fight­ing spirit. Now as we head for the plays-off we are go­ing to have con­fi­dence from the way we fought back at the end of the game and hope­fully we will be able to draw upon that and get the place to play in the Euro­pean Hockey League.”

Although a bril­liant re­ac­tion save from Wim­ble­don goal­keeper James Bai­ley had de­nied Noblett a goal in the se­cond minute of the game, the vis­i­tors quickly took con­trol in a style that be­fit­ted this year’s league win­ners.

In the 13th minute, Phil Ball crashed home their opener from an acute an­gle and soon af­ter a swift counter-at­tack saw Johnny Kin­der add a se­cond.

Bai­ley also kept out an­other goal­bound ef­fort from Noblett just be­fore the half-time whis­tle and when the big con­tin­gent of Wim­ble­don fans let out a big cheer when Borja Llorens scored their third from a 42nd minute penalty corner the game looked over as a contest.

How­ever, in the Sur­biton camp there was in­spi­ra­tion to be drawn from last sea­son’s Pre­mier League re­sults when af­ter trail­ing 3-1 at Wim­ble­don the team had fought back to earn a 3-3 draw.

And their coach Mark Pearn later said the woe­ful start and se­cond half turn­around fol­lowed a pat­tern that had dom­i­nated their league cam­paign this sea­son and yet still earned them a place in next month’s play-offs.

“It’s been the same story of so many games,” he said. “We have had too many slow starts where we have con­ceded early goals and had to fight our way back.

“But we have only lost one game, the first of the sea­son at Hol­combe, and we have fought back to get a lot of draws. But it is hard to beat teams which play at high tempo for the whole game.

“We are tough to beat but we need more qual­ity and ap­pli­ca­tion through­out the whole of games.

“And it is im­por­tant that over the next three weeks the guys dig deep be­cause the play-offs mean so much.”

The Sur­biton turn­around was launched in the 47th minute by Ar­jan Dray­ton-Chana whose goal will be re­mem­bered not just be­cause it was his first of the sea­son but also be­cause he struck the ball with such power.

The re­ac­tions of the two teams to the change on the elec­tronic score­board were very dif­fer­ent.

Clearly lifted, Sur­biton went on the at­tack and in a se­ries of skir­mishes in­side the Wim­ble­don D were awarded a num­ber of penalty cor­ners with

Gareth Fur­long con­vert­ing one of them eight min­utes later. Wim­ble­don’s re­sponse was to ar­gue so much with the um­pires about their de­ci­sions that they were handed out two green cards and a yel­low one.

And the one sour note of a highly skil­ful and hotly con­tested match was the re­peated sight of the re­place­ments in the vis­i­tors’ dugout leap­ing from their seats and hol­ler­ing their dis­plea­sure.

Some of the lan­guage used was cer­tainly out of place when so many chil­dren were at Sug­den Road with their par­ents hop­ing they would take up hockey. Wim­ble­don coach Ben Hawes wisely left the um­pir­ing is­sue out of his af­ter-match com­ments but he did ac­knowl­edge that he will not want to see his team’s se­cond half short­com­ings re­peated in the com­ing weeks.

“We lacked con­cen­tra­tion when it re­ally mat­tered,” he said. “And against a good side that hurts. With the knock-out games we have got com­ing up, lapses like that can kill you.

“We have thrown away leads be­fore. We need to be able to kill games off bet­ter.”

Luke at that! Luke Noblett cel­e­brates scor­ing Sur­biton’s equaliser af­ter Ar­jan Dray­tonChana be­gan the fight­back, in­set PICTURES: Tim Reder

At­tack­ing flair: Si­mon Man­tell evades Jonny Gall

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