Vitality Women’s Hockey League Preview – 26 February 2022
Surbiton host East Grinstead in a top of the table clash in the Vitality Women’s Hockey League Premier Division Top Six, defending a one point lead over the West Sussex club. East Grinstead won 1-0 on their last visit to Sugden Road in October 2020, but lost at home to Surbiton in November 2021 in Phase One.
Third-placed Hampstead and Westminster, three points behind Surbiton, visit Beeston, who will go into the match with confidence having drawn 1-1 at Surbiton and won 3-2 at Clifton Robinsons in their last two games. In contrast, Hampstead, who held a nine point lead over second-placed East Grinstead in November 2021, having played two games more, have suffered a dip in form, losing three of their last four games to title rivals, Wimbledon, Surbiton and East Grinstead and drawing the other match with Clifton Robinsons. Hampstead’s 3-0 loss at East Grinstead last weekend was also the first time Hampstead had failed to score in a top flight match. When Beeston travelled to London in Phase One, Hampstead had to battle before winning 1-0.
Wimbledon saw their hopes of completing a unique hat-trick by beating the league leaders three weeks in a row when Surbiton beat them 1-0 on their own pitch, but having fallen five points off the pace, return to Clifton Robinsons, where they won 2-1 in Phase One as they try to stay in contention for a top two European place.
In the Bottom 5, Buckingham and Swansea return to outdoor action after competing indoors in Europe last weekend. Buckingham are in serious relegation trouble after losing their last seven matches following a 2-2 draw at Surbiton in October. Buckingham travel to Holcombe, who have played a game more than their rivals and won 2-1 at Buckingham in Phase One. Holcombe have found some form with a win and draw against bottom club Swansea and what could prove to be a vital 5-2 away win at Loughborough Students last week.
Swansea are eight points from safety and if they are going to have any chance of completing the great escape will need to win their home game against Loughborough, currently just outside the two team relegation zone. Swansea lost 2-1 at Loughborough in Phase One and having drawn 1-1 at home to Holcombe in their last league match before going on their European indoor adventure, will be hopeful that they can win their first ever Premier Division match at the expense of their Leicestershire opponents.
The University of Birmingham have a bye week.