Vitality Women’s Hockey League Preview – 25 September 2021
After receiving a bye last week, the University of Birmingham travel to Holcombe to get their 2021-22 season underway. And if there is a hockey equivalent to Groundhog Day, it’s Birmingham who should know after returning from Kent on their last five visits to Holcombe Park having lost 3-1.
The only time Birmingham didn’t lose by that scoreline was in 2014-15 when the teams drew 1-1. Holcombe will want to bounce back after losing to Beeston for the first time in seven meetings last week, going down 2-1 in the East Midlands.
Beeston travel down to Surrey to play Surbiton, where they have only won once in four visits, failing to score on the other three. Current Surbiton player, Eloise Stenner scored the first of Beeston’s goals in that historic victory in November 2018 and faces her former team. Surbiton came away from Bristol with a point last weekend in a topsy-turvy match where they took the lead, fell 2-1 behind and salvaged a second half equaliser in a 2-2 draw as Clifton Robinsons ended a run of seven successive home defeats to the reigning league champions.
Clifton travel to Buckingham, who also drew last weekend, coming from behind before drawing 1-1 away to Swansea, the Welsh club earning their first-ever point in the top flight and they get this weekend off to celebrate. Jess Roe, who also scored Swansea’s first-ever goal at Buckingham in their last match of the 2020-21 season, will go down in history as Swansea’s first Premier Division goalscorer on Welsh turf. Originally Swansea were due to compete in EuroHockey Club Challenge II in Rakovnik in the Czech Republic, but along with some other British clubs, elected to withdraw from European competition.
East Grinstead extended their regular season unbeaten run to 22 matches after a comprehensive 4-1 home win over Loughborough Students. Their next challenge is a visit to Hampstead & Westminster, who will be hoping to make it third time lucky at Paddington Recreation Ground after losing 2-1 last season and a thrilling 4-4 draw in 2019-20. Even when the teams met in South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League Division 1 in 2012-13, with both teams destined to rise through the divisions, Hampstead could only muster a 3-3 draw. Hampstead will be confident following their 3-1 win at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon travel to Leicestershire to take on Loughborough Students, with both teams looking for their first points of the season. As the teams were denied the opportunity to face each other in the Premier Division before last season was halted, the teams have to go back to January 2006 for their last national league meeting, when Loughborough prevailed 1-0. Wimbledon were relegated and ultimately descended to South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League Division 2 before making their comeback whilst Loughborough were consistent, staying members of Division One before the Conferences were introduced in 2008-09. Loughborough remained in the Conference North before they were the last winners in 2018-19 after which Division One North and South were added as a second tier, winning promotion via the Promotion Tournament.