Two games in to the second phase of the English Hockey Premier Division, Beeston Ladies 1st team are making themselves known in the battle for the title and European places.
After it took a controversial decision in the final few minutes to help East Grinstead beat the Nottingham side, they travelled to Surbiton and took a point from the reigning champions, and in truth could have been more.
In the early exchanges the sides traded blows but neither side created a clear-cut opportunity. The sides swapped periods of possession, and both crafted good attacks but failed to get shots on goal.
The opening goal of the game came from. Beeston mistake, after a period of controlled possession, under little pressure they handed the ball to the Surbiton forwards who played a neatly around Hannah Grieve before Surbiton’s Maddie Long slotted past Steph Tirrell in the Beeston goal.
Surbiton followed this up with a period of dominance winning a penalty corner, but Beeston’s Penalty Corner defence, which has to be considered one of the best in the league, kept the London side out.
Late on in the second half Beeston pushed for an equaliser and came close with a smart ball fired into the circle where Irish Under 21 international Nadia Benallal deflected the ball towards goal and was denied by a smart save by Louisa Bray in the Surbiton goal.
Mads Newitt also had a chance to equalise but failed to connect with her shot.
Just before half time, Beeston’s dominance was rewarded with a string of Penalty Corners, on the third attempted a smartly worked routine meant that two players returning to the squad after missing out last week could combine to score, Ella Cusack slipped the ball past Bray for Beeston’s Cerys Miller to tap into an empty goal.
The second half was more of the same with the sides trading territory and possession but failing to create clear opportunities.
Beeston’s defence was stubborn and kept the reigning champions at bay and limiting their threat. Surbiton’s best chance came from a penalty corner which was saved comfortably by Steph Tirrell.
It was Beeston who finished the stronger of the two sides and almost snatched all three points, a Lottie Summers penalty corner was saved and with the last play of the game the ball fell to Nadia Benallal who’s reverse stick shot sailed over the bar.
The game finished 1-1, only the second time that Beeston have picked up points against Surbiton and only the third goal the Nottingham side have scored on the road against the London side.
Head Coach James Sordillo said of the game, “our overwhelming feeling is frustration, we feel if we had been smarter in some areas and created more and been leaving with three points.
The growth of this group has been phenomenal and to be coming to Surbiton, who haven’t lost all season and to feel frustrated with a draw show where we are. We aren’t in the top six to make up numbers, we’re here to compete and be part of the conversation.
Our training programme is changing, and players are returning from injury, it’s shaping up to be an exciting second half of the season”
Fifth place Beeston travel to sixth place Clifton on Saturday 19th February. A win will see Beeston open up a four-point gap over the Bristol based side.
Beeston’s next home game is on Saturday 19th February, at 2pm against Hampstead and Westminster at Nottingham Hockey Centre.
*Main image @asandysmith the Bees huddle ahead of the game.