Vitality Women’s Hockey League Preview – 30 October 2021
Hampstead & Westminster will aim for their seventh league win of the season and eighth in succession overall when they travel to Loughborough Students on Saturday. Hampstead won 1-0 on their last visit to Leicestershire in October 2019, but were stunned in October 2020 when Loughborough won 4-2 at Bisham Abbey after Hampstead’s home game was switched away from Paddington Recreation Ground.
Both teams were promoted to the Premier Division via the Promotion Tournament in 2018-19, Hampstead again winning 1-0. Loughborough were 4-0 down at Clifton Robinsons last weekend before just missing out 5-4 and in spite of having a game in hand after their home game v Wimbledon was postponed earlier in the season, will need to start winning soon if they are going to finish in the top six at the halfway point of the season.
East Grinstead can close to within three points of Hampstead if they win both their games in hand and make the journey to Kent to play Holcombe. Holcombe have struggled this season with only two home draws against Clifton Robinsons and the University of Birmingham to show from their first six games and will face a tough task against an in form East Grinstead team.
Since East Grinstead and Holcombe first met at Holcombe Park in 2015, the fixture has been won alternately by Holcombe and East Grinstead, with East Grinstead on course to win in 2021-22 after Holcombe won 1-0 last time.
Wimbledon are currently second, a point ahead of East Grinstead but having played a game more and host the University of Birmingham. Birmingham lost 2-0 at Wimbledon in October 2020, for the first time since the teams met in the old Division One back in the 2005-06 season and both matches ended in a 2-2 draw. Birmingham are on the fringe of the top six and are battling with both Buckingham and Beeston, who they drew 2-2 with last weekend.
Beeston host Buckingham in Nottingham with both teams targeting a top six finish. Historically, the away team has been more successful with Buckingham winning two of the last three meetings in the East Midlands, although Beeston won 2-1 in October 2019. In the reverse fixture, Beeston have won twice at Buckingham with one match drawn.
Wimbledon’s game with Surbiton last week was the first time that the teams had met in league competition and Surbiton and Swansea also meet for the first time ever in Wales. Surbiton have lost ground by drawing three of their five games, whilst Swansea, having started the season with a 1-1 home draw with Buckingham, have lost their last four games, but have scored in each match.