25 SEPTEMBER 2021
EAST GRINSTEAD ON 22 GAME UNBEATEN RUN
East Grinstead extended their unbeaten league run to 22 games with a 4-1 home win over Loughborough Students. Loughborough had won 5-1 on their last visit to West Sussex, but found East Grinstead too strong this time.
Sophie Bray’s brace gave East Grinstead a 2-0 lead at half time. By the end of the third quarter, Autumn Bowden and Ellie Rayer had doubled the home advantage to 4-0. Lorna Mackenzie notched a late consolation for the students, but on this form, East Grinstead seem likely to be the team to beat.
Reigning champions Surbiton were held to a 2-2 draw by Clifton Robinsons in Bristol. Fielding six debutants, Surbiton took the lead through Alice Wills, only for a Catherine Macaulay double to turn the game around. Eloise Stenner equalised for Surbiton shortly after half time, but neither side could find the winning goal.
Hampstead & Westminster earned the first bragging rights of the season in London, coming away from Wimbledon with all three points earned by a 3-1 win. Sarah Robertson opened the scoring for Hampstead, only for Sarah Jones to level. Lauren Turner and Esme Burge added further goals for Hampstead to clinch the victory.
Beeston beat Holcombe for the first time in seven attempts but had to come from behind to do it. Candice Manuel put Holcombe ahead before Nadia Benallal equalised. Lucy Millington, Beeston’s new signing from Loughborough was the Nottingham club’s heroine, scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.
The last time Buckingham visited Swansea in September 2016, the teams drew 1-1 in a Conference West encounter. Five years later, history repeated itself as Jess Roe, who scored Swansea’s only goal in the truncated 2020-21 season, put the Welsh club ahead before Natasha James salvaged a point for Buckingham.
GROUNDHOG DAY FOR UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM?
After receiving a bye last week, the University of Birmingham travel to Holcombe to get their 2021-22 season underway. And if there is a hockey equivalent to Groundhog Day, it’s Birmingham who should know after returning from Kent on their last five visits to Holcombe Park having lost 3-1.
The only time Birmingham didn’t lose by that scoreline was in 2014-15 when the teams drew 1-1. Holcombe will want to bounce back after losing to Beeston for the first time in seven meetings last week, going down 2-1 in the East Midlands.
Beeston travel down to Surrey to play Surbiton, where they have only won once in four visits, failing to score on the other three. Current Surbiton player, Eloise Stenner scored the first of Beeston’s goals in that historic victory in November 2018 and faces her former team. Surbiton came away from Bristol with a point last weekend in a topsy-turvy match where they took the lead, fell 2-1 behind and salvaged a second half equaliser in a 2-2 draw as Clifton Robinsons ended a run of seven successive home defeats to the reigning league champions.
Clifton travel to Buckingham, who also drew last weekend, coming from behind before drawing 1-1 away to Swansea, the Welsh club earning their first-ever point in the top flight and they get this weekend off to celebrate. Jess Roe, who also scored Swansea’s first-ever goal at Buckingham in their last match of the 2020-21 season, will go down in history as Swansea’s first Premier Division goalscorer on Welsh turf. Originally Swansea were due to compete in EuroHockey Club Challenge II in Rakovnik in the Czech Republic, but along with some other British clubs, elected to withdraw.
East Grinstead extended their regular season unbeaten run to 22 matches after a comprehensive 4-1 home win over Loughborough Students. Their next challenge is a visit to Hampstead & Westminster, who will be hoping to make it third time lucky at Paddington Recreation Ground after losing 2-1 last season and a thrilling 4-4 draw in 2019-20. Even when the teams met in South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League Division 1 in 2012-13, with both teams destined to rise through the divisions, Hampstead could only muster a 3-3 draw. Hampstead will be confident following their 3-1 win at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon travel to Leicestershire to take on Loughborough Students, with both teams looking for their first points of the season. As the teams were denied the opportunity to face each other in the Premier Division before last season was halted, the teams have to go back to January 2006 for their last national league meeting, when Loughborough prevailed 1-0.
Wimbledon were relegated and ultimately descended to South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League Division 2 before making their comeback whilst Loughborough were consistent, staying members of Division One before the Conferences were introduced in 2008-09. Loughborough stayed in the Conference North before they were the last winners in 2018-19 before Division One North and South were added as a second tier, winning promotion via the Promotion Tournament.
The full and most comprehensive Vitality Women’s Hockey League, Matchday Media Guide is available here.20210925-VWHL-Media-Guide