Seventh Heaven for East Grinstead

Vitality Women’s Hockey League Premier Division Review – 13 November 2021

📸 – Andy Smith

The top four teams in the Vitality Women’s Hockey League Premier Division all won as the race for the coveted top six places came closer to reaching its final destination.

Hampstead & Westminster, East Grinstead, Wimbledon and Surbiton all booked their places with fifth placed Clifton Robinsons all but certain of their qualification. Sixth placed Beeston have a four point cushion over Buckingham, the University of Birmingham and Loughborough Students and will be firm favourites to complete the top six line-up.

East Grinstead kept up the pressure with a 7-0 demolition of the University of Birmingham in the West Midlands. East Grinstead led 2-0 at the interval thanks to Fatin Sukri’s 14th minute open play effort and Sophie Bray’s 33rd minute penalty corner conversion. Bray completed her hat-trick with two open play goals in the 44th and 49th minutes to take her season tally to nine, before Nuraini Rashid scored from the penalty spot in the 59th minute. Ellie Rayer also got on the act with a brace in the last ten minutes, scoring from open play in the 60th minute and from a penalty corner in the 68th.

📸 – Andy Smith

Hampstead go into their bye week with their one hundred per cent record intact following a 3-0 home win over bottom club Swansea. Hampstead had to wait until just before half time to break the deadlock, Emily Douglas converting a penalty corner. Fran Tew doubled Hampstead’s advantage from open play in the 40th minute with Sarah Robertson’s 48th minute penalty stroke sealing the victory.

Wimbledon were also in high scoring form as they beat Buckingham 5-1 to dent the visitors’ hopes of reaching the top six. Again, Wimbledon needed a clinical second half performance to clinch all three points, having been level at half time, Olivia Chilton putting the hosts ahead in the 3rd minute from open play and Kitty Higgins equalising from a 27th minute penalty corner.

Fiona Crackles restored Wimbledon’s lead from a 39th minute penalty corner, Hollie Pearne-Webb extended the lead in the same manner four minutes later before scoring a penalty stroke with ten minutes remaining. Fiona Burnet’s last minute open play goal was the icing on the cake.

Coming back from their bye week, Surbiton beat Loughborough Students 4-2. Surbiton patiently waited until the end of the first quarter to take the lead from Georgie Twigg’s penalty corner conversion and led 2-0 at the break after Meg Dowthwaite scored from open play in the 33rd minute. Loughborough briefly had visions of the prospect of a second successive 8-0 defeat when Darcy Bourne and Sarah Evans scored for Surbiton in the 43rd and 44th minutes from open play, but to their credit, Loughborough regrouped and fought back through Enya Collier in the 56th minute and Kirby Harris five minutes later, both goals again coming from open play.

Clifton Robinsons celebrated their 500th regular season Premier Division game, but Beeston spoiled the party in Nottingham with a 2-0 win. Beeston had to settle for two early goals through Sophie Robinson in the 3rd minute and Lucy Millington in the 8th to secure the win, whilst Clifton have the consolation of knowing that barring a miracle, they will be in the top six in the second half of the season.

1Hampstead & Westminster99002491527
2East Grinstead76012371618
5Clifton Robinsons83321314-112
8University of Birmingham81341020-106
9Loughborough Students82061226-146

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