Vitality Women’s Hockey League Preview – 19/20 March 2022
After trips to Hampstead & Westminster and Beeston, Surbiton return to Elmbridge to take on Clifton Robinsons in the Vitality Women’s Hockey League Premier Division Top Six on Saturday afternoon as the season starts to meander towards its conclusion.
Surbiton have been outstanding in their last three matches with a 6-0 home win over East Grinstead; and a 4-2 victory at Hampstead and a 7-1 defeat of Beeston, with Darcy Bourne scoring hat-tricks in all three games, including four at Nottingham, to become the first player to score three successive hat-tricks since Tina Cullen for Hightown and Imogen Robertson for Clifton in the 2001-02 season.
Bourne goes for a potential fourth successive hat-trick against sixth placed Clifton on 15 goals, one behind East Grinstead’s Sophie Bray. Surbiton have a four point lead over East Grinstead with four games remaining.
Clifton won on their last visit to Sugden Road in March 2020, the only time that Clifton have beaten Surbiton in the Premier Division going back to 2012-13, but since then, Surbiton have visited Bristol twice, drawing 2-2 on the opening day and winning 3-1 in the first Phase 2 fixture in February.
East Grinstead host Beeston at Saint Hill where East Grinstead have won all three previous meetings. After Beeston were promoted to the top flight for the second time, East Grinstead won 2-1 in both 2018-19 and 2019-20 and won 3-0 in 2020-21. East Grinstead also won both meetings earlier this season in the East Midlands by 2-1 margins in October and February. East Grinstead beat Clifton Robinsons 6-0 at home and won 2-1 at Wimbledon last week to rebound from their shock 6-0 defeat at Surbiton in late February.
Third-placed Hampstead & Westminster, six points behind Surbiton, host fourth-placed Wimbledon at Paddington Recreation Ground in a key match for both teams. The first two matches at Wimbledon had mixed results with Hampstead winning 3-1 on the opening day of the season to start what culminated in a nine game winning streak, and then once the streak ended, Hampstead lost 2-1 in South-West London in February as they struggled to find some form. Wimbledon will also be disappointed having lost already in 2022 at home to Surbiton (0-1) and East Grinstead (1-2) and will be determined to try and pick up all three points at Hampstead.
Swansea face a key doubleheader weekend in the Bottom 5 which could see their top flight status come to an end. With five games to play and two points on the board, the Welsh club can get 17 points, but a defeat at Loughborough on Saturday would see relegation confirmed with Swansea only able to get 14 points and University of Birmingham already on 17, Buckingham on 15 and Loughborough would be on 16. Only Holcombe, on 13 points could be caught and they travel to Buckingham, who have pulled away from the relegation zone with a three game winning streak, starting with a 2-0 win at Holcombe on 26 February.
On Sunday, the University of Birmingham play Swansea in a rearranged game from 19 February due to Swansea’s European indoor exploits. This weekend was originally intended to be Birmingham’s second bye weekend of Phase 2, with Birmingham keen to ease themselves further from the relegation zone.