After some surprise results across the National Leagues last week, we look ahead to more of the same in the top of the table clashes and battles at the bottom. Hockey World News looks over the Vitality Women’s Hockey League Premier Division, Division One North and South and the Conferences.
In our ‘Match of the Week’, struggling Buckingham travel to Leicester to play the Loughborough Students. Having won their last three matches against the students, Buckingham will be targeting this match as the catalyst to kick start their season. Loughborough students, however, after their impressive win versus Clifton Robinsons last week, will be in high spirits lining up against their opponents.
Clifton Robinson have the unenviable task of an away trip to the only unbeaten side in the Premier Division, Wimbledon. Hosting Clifton Robinsons in the top flight for only the fourth time, with a 29-year gap between the last two meetings, the visitors will be hopeful of overturning the 6-1 defeat they suffered on their previous visit to South West London.
Leading Wimbledon by one point and at the top of the division, Surbiton welcome Holcombe to Sugden Road. With just one win in their last seven encounters, Holcombe will have their work cut out to topple the league leaders, who have conceded just three goals all season.
East Grinstead, back to winning ways after their victory over Holcombe last week, await the arrival of a Beeston side flying high in their best start to a Premier Division campaign. Beeston’s win in West Sussex in March was their first-ever victory at Saint Hill, having lost 3-0 once and 2-1 twice on their first three visits, with Sophie Bray scoring in all four matches.
The University of Nottingham, level on five points with Holcombe, line up against Reading at the Nottingham Hockey Centre. With both sides in identical form, LWDLL, the first Premier Division meeting of the two sides, will be a significant one.
After their 8-2 demolition of the University of Nottingham last week, Hampstead & Westminster are heading for only their second trip to the Second City for a Premier Division match. Having last played in Birmingham in December 2019, when they won 3-1, Hampstead had also beaten the University of Birmingham 3-0 at home in September 2019, with Lily Owsley, Meg Byas and Hayley Turner scoring for the London club.
In Division 1 North, Ben Rhydding, at the foot of the table, face the top side, Stourport, in what is likely to be a one-sided encounter. Bowdon, having dropped to second in the table after last week’s defeat to Gloucester City, have another tough fixture as they travel to Leicester City.
Surbiton 2‘s, in Division 1 South, travel to Witney looking to extend their two-point lead over their hosts and move further away from the relegation zone. A win for Witney will see them swap places with Surbiton 2’s and climb out of the early season danger zone.
The Conference East sees an anticipated battle as two of the three unbeaten sides go head to head when Hampstead & Westminster 2‘s travel to Guildford. With both sides looking to maintain the pressure on Southgate, who face East London, a loss for either team could have ramifications on the success of their season.
Beeston 2‘s and Cannock meet in a lower end of the Conference Midlands battle. Both sides are level on four points, with one win and a draw in their opening five games.
The Conference North’s pick of the fixtures sees conference leaders Fylde travel second placed Wakefield. Fylde, on 11 points, will be looking to maintain their unbeaten status, knowing any slip-up could path the wave for any of the three trailing sides on 10 points to take command of the conference.
With four teams on 10 points at the top Conference West, second-placed Penarth travel to Exe in third, knowing that a loss for either team will see them drop out of the early season battle at the top.
For full fixtures and league tables, visit the Vitality Women's Hockey League section here.
Image by Andy Smith