Surbiton pull English title out of the fire once again

Surbiton were named English Men's Hockey League Champions for the second time in two years - but were pushed every inch of the way by Hampstead & Westminster.

Hampstead came from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 into the final moments of the game, only for Surbiton to go to a kicking back and score from a penalty corner, and then win 3-2 in a dramatic sudden death shoot-out.

Surbiton took a little while to get into their stride but went up when super skill from Zach Wallace allowed Alan Forsyth to score neatly on 14 minutes. And, within two minutes, Surbiton had doubled their lead, Arjan Drayton-Chana fouled inside the D; Forsyth slotted home the penalty stroke expertly.

But Hampstead were certainly not broken, and mounted a quite superb comeback. First of all, Chris Cargo smacked home an excellent finish from a corner to reduce the deficit. And then Will Calnan scored the goal of the game, embarking on a wonderful solo run before producing an equally impressive reverse stick finish for 2-2.

The game was attritional, committed and passionate, and it was Hampstead who took the lead for the first time when Matt Guise-Brown scored his second goal in two days, expertly guiding home from a penalty corner.

As time ebbed away, Surbiton elected to play with a kicking back, and it proved a masterstroke as they won a corner with two minutes to go, lashed home by Gareth Furlong to take the game to a shoot-out.

It was Hampstead who took the advantage with a 2-1 lead in the shoot-out thanks to Calnan and Harry Martin, either side of a brilliant Forsyth effort. That put all the pressure on David Goodfield, who had to score to keep Surbiton in it, and he fired home to take it to sudden death.

With Surbiton now going first, Forsyth scored to put Hampstead in the spotlight, and as Harry Gibson saved from Martin, wild celebrations began. They take England's number one European ticket for next season with regular season champions Wimbledon taking their other assured European spot.