Vitality Women’s Hockey League Preview – 12 March 2022
Surbiton travel to Nottingham Hockey Centre to take on fifth-placed Beeston in their quest for their eighth successive league title. Darcy Bourne, Surbiton’s leading goalscorer with eleven goals, is in line for a third successive hat-trick after becoming the first player since East Grinstead’s Sophie Bray to score trebles in successive matches at home to East Grinstead and at Hampstead & Westminster.
Bray achieved the feat in December 2019 against the University of Birmingham and Holcombe, but Beeston will be confident of avoiding defeat at home to Surbiton for the first time after drawing 1-1 at Sugden Road a month ago, in spite of losing 4-0 at Wimbledon last weekend.
East Grinstead are four points behind Surbiton after beating Clifton Robinsons 6-0 at home, a week after losing by the same score at Surbiton. Back in October 2013, Sutton Coldfield experienced something similar, beating Olton & West Warwicks 6-1 at home before crashing 6-0 at Reading the following week.
East Grinstead travel to Wimbledon for the first time at Premier Division level, having previously met in the Conference East. Wimbledon have visited Saint Hill twice already this season with mixed results, losing 2-1 in November and then winning 3-0 a month ago. Wimbledon have won seven of their last eight matches, with Surbiton handing them a home defeat on 19 February, and will be keen to at least stay within five points of the reigning champions.
Clifton Robinsons have gained one point out of the last 24 since they last beat the University of Birmingham in November. That point came in a 3-3 draw with Hampstead and Westminster a month ago and it is now Hampstead’s turn to travel to Bristol, where they won 3-1 in October.
Hampstead are six points off top spot with five games to play, a situation they didn’t envisage after they won their first nine games of the season, but will battle with further potential top of the table clashes to come.
In the Bottom 5, Swansea are seriously adrift having just two points from their first twelve games, but travel to Buckingham, who drew 1-1 with Swansea in South Wales on the opening day of the season. Buckingham can move out of the two team relegation zone with a win as Holcombe have a bye week. Buckingham boosted their chances of avoiding relegation with wins over Holcombe and Loughborough Students in the last two weeks to close the gap between seventh and tenth to just two points.
Loughborough will also be hoping to move above Holcombe when they visit the University of Birmingham. Honours were even when the teams drew 1-1 at Loughborough in November, but in 2022, Loughborough have lost to both Buckingham and Holcombe at home and won 1-0 at Swansea as they aim to preserve their top flight status.20220312-VWHL-Media-Guide