After three games of the England Hockey League Conference East season, Surbiton Ladies find themselves as one of four teams level on seven points at the top of the table.
Leaders Chelmsford, who had previously kept clean sheets in winning their first two games, had to rally from a 2-0 deficit to earn a point at Kingston Grammar School, and end both teams’ 100 per cent records.
In spite of heavy rain and localised flooding in the Thames Ditton area on Saturday night, the game was able to go ahead on Sunday afternoon, even though steady rain started to fall before the game, only stopping 10 minutes into the second half.
Surbiton went into the match without Helen Grant, who missed her first competitive game in three seasons, but after 16 minutes Chelmsford trailed 2-0 after Emma Rowland-Jones opened the scoring in the seventh minute; followed by a strongly hit penalty corner conversion by Jessica Brooker nine minutes later.
Brooker’s goal was her third league goal of the season, having scored twice against Dereham in the first game, and missed last week’s game at Harleston.
Vicky Bryant and Alex Teasdale both caused problems for the Chelmsford defence; with Maddie Tait attacking down the right. Clarissa Goodwin and Kelly Morgan were also threatening, but in spite of Surbiton’s pressure, their failure to score a third goal was to prove decisive.
Chelmsford are in their second season at conference level, having been relegated from the Premier Division in 2009.
After finishing third behind Ipswich and Sevenoaks last season, they are aiming for promotion back to the top flight this season.
Two goals in a three-minute spell brought them back level, and may ultimately help earn them a place in the end of season promotion playoffs.
First, Kat Hales scored her second league goal of the season in the 25th minute, then Jess Ecott converted a penalty corner to equalize.
At the start of the second half, Teasdale and Goodwin linked together as Surbiton aimed to restore their lead, however, Chelmsford came back into the game, forcing saves from Surbiton’s goalkeeper, Dulcie Davies, including an excellent save to her right.
Surbiton became frustrated, Brooker overhitting a ball beyond both Morgan and the right post.
Counter attacking, Chelmsford were denied by the combination of Davies kicking the ball away, and Minnie James clearing the ball to safety.
Surbiton were unable to take further advantage of their penalty corner routine either, as Chelmsford’s goalkeeper, Lyndsay Warren saved a Rowland-Jones shot.
Chelmsford also successfully challenged a penalty corner award with a minute remaining, the award reversed after both umpires consulted.
Surbiton dropped to third after Horsham’s 1-0 win over Harleston Magpies elevated them to second.
Sevenoaks, next week’s opponents, are breathing down their necks in fourth.
As the Sugden Road pitch is not yet ready, Surbiton Ladies will switch next Saturday’s fixture to an evening match at Sevenoaks.
SURBITON LADIES: Davies (GK); Heptonstall (Capt.), Gordon, Jenkins, Tait, Rowland-Jones, Goodwin, Robinson; Bryant, Teasdale, Morgan. Subs: Brooker, Ford, Hanson Akins, James, Tranquille-Day (did not play).
Surbiton Ladies’ second team, who due to Surbiton Ladies’ first team’s membership of the EHL are now eligible to participate in the Second XI Cup, beat Horsham, of the one league higher, South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League Division 3B, 1-0 in the first round, thanks to Sian Craze’s Golden Goal in the second minute of extra time.
Surbiton, who play in the Surrey Ladies League Premier Division, and won the Second XI Trophy last season, will host Team Bath Buccaneers in the second round on November 7.