Surbiton were in seventh heaven after launching their new season in the EHL Men’s Premier Division with an emphatic 7-0 win over East Grinstead.
An Alan Forsyth hattrick was complemented by a brace for Matt Daly and goals from Andy Hayward and Dave Beckett.
It was a miserable start for the East Sussex side who have begun the new campaign in much the same way as they ended the last one – at the hands of comprehensive drubbing.
Wimbledon were not the victors this time, but their neighbours from just down the A3,
The disparity between the two sides was evident from the opening moments in Sugden Road, with Surbiton looking far more composed in possession but failing to capitalise on numerous attacks. Both Matt Daly and Alan Forsyth skewed chances wide from seemingly impossible-to-miss distances and new signing, New Zealand international Andy Hayward, who has made the shift from Hampstead & Westminster, was unable to convert from three penalty corner chances.
Chris Griffiths gave EG their best moment of the half, weaving in skillfully from the right, but firing his ball wide of the Surbiton goal.
In the last minute of the first half, the stalemate was broken as Surbiton won their fifth penalty corner of the half and Matt Daly fired the ball home low and hard.
It was Daly who struck again right after the break, picking up the ball in space in the EG circle, he flicked beautifully past goalkeeper Patrick Smith’s shoulder.
Just sixty seconds later Forsyth made amends for his first half miss also, slotting home Surbiton’s third.
And that seemed to be the damage done; EG were shell-shocked and from that point on failed to really get hold of the game.
Despite the hugely experienced Glenn Kirkham marshalling from the back, his squad was in disarray and needed someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Were they missing Mark Pearn, who departed for ventures new with Richmond? Perhaps they missed Ashley Jackson, who also departed in the summer for newly-promoted Holcombe.
He watched from the sideline, no doubt wondering what difference he could have made.
Forsyth then added to the pain, earning his second goal following a 40-yard pass that scythed through the scattered EG midfield.
Mid-way through the half, EG enjoyed a little more time on the ball. Joe Naughalty was unable to convert from a penalty corner, but despite Rob Schilling covering every inch of his former home pitch, the visitors just couldn’t get a break.
A four-minute spell with ten minutes to play killed the game off as Surbiton exploited their opponent’s lack of midfield protection. Hayward sprayed balls forward and Forsyth, Daly, Beckett and the rapid Michael Watt marauded the EG circle with startling ease.
Hayward rifled home from a penalty corner, Beckett linked up with Watt to bundle home between Smith’s legs and Forsyth claimed his third after latching onto another long pass.
Only the woodwork spared EG further blushes, pinging away Daly’s powerful dragflick in the last minute of the match.
Grinstead coach Karl Stagno will be left scratching his head at how easily his squad was dismantled and what work he has to do to galvanise his squad. There’s no doubt the talent is there.
For Surbiton however, this was very much a warning shot across the bows for any teams with ambitions for the title.
They may even have already dusted off a space in the Sugden Road trophy cabinet.
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