Surbiton Ladies Hockey Club’s Sarah Page described the dressing room as “gutted” after the team missed out on the WHL Premier Division Championship final in the cruellest of fashions.

After a pulsating 2-2 draw in the semi-final at Reading Hockey Club, Surbiton could not see off favourites Leicester and fell 3-2 in the shuffle shoot-out.

Emma Batten and Amy Bryant had put a confident-looking Surbiton into an early 2-0 lead.

However, Leicester, who finished top of the Premier Division, pulled one back and were level from a last-gasp penalty corner on the stroke of half-time.

Surbiton, who were in the Championship play-offs for the first time in their history by virtue of finishing fourth in the table, more than matched their more illustrious opponents in the second half and extra time.

But there was to be no decisive winner and although Page and skipper Sarah Haycroft would score their shuffle efforts, Abi Robinson, Vicky Bryant and Batten failed and victory was Leicester’s.

Your Local Guardian: Amy Bryant

It all started so brightly: Amy Bryant celebrates her strike against Leicester    Picture: England Hockey/Ady Kerry

Page said: “It is a cruel to go out on the shuffles. We’re just gutted really because going into the game I think Leicester would have backed their chances, but we were the better side.

“We had the better chances and I don’t think we got the best of the referee decisions, It is very frustrating.”

She added: “It is a shame. This is our first season in the Premier Division, we have come so far. We’re quite a new team – this is my first season – and we have grown so much.

“I am very proud of us all, and I know everyone put in 100 per cent.”

With the semi-final defeat, Surbiton also missed out on a place in the European Hockey League, but Page remains happy with the spirit in the camp.

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We know it’s a big occasion but we’re generally a relaxed bunch.”

Your Local Guardian: Any Bryant

Happier times: Vicky Bryant, right, celebrates Surbiton's second goal with skipper Sarah Haycroft   Picture: England Hockey/Ady Kerry

She added: “We are 100 per cent committed, but on a day like today, it is easy for teams to get anxious. We were the underdogs, the pressure was all on Leicester.

“It showed in how we played, we just went out there and had fun. We have to learn from today and take it into tomorrow.”

Surbiton face Canterbury in Sunday’s third/fourth place play-off after the Kent side were well beaten 5-1 by Reading in the second semi-final.

“There is still a lot to play for. The end of season rankings are important to us,” Page added.

“We finished fourth in the table, but if we could finish third in the rankings that would be fantastic and we could go out on a high.”