Vitality Women’s Hockey League Preview – 19 February 2022
Wimbledon have the opportunity to knock the Vitality Women’s Hockey League Premier Division leaders off of top spot for the third week running when they host Surbiton at Raynes Park High School on Saturday afternoon.
Since the Premier Division was split into the Top Six and Bottom Five, Wimbledon have started 2022 by ending Hampstead & Westminster’s long term residency at the top with a 2-1 home win over their London rivals, before following up with a 3-0 win at new leaders, East Grinstead, a result which saw Wimbledon enter week 3 of Phase 2, just two points off the lead.
Surbiton went top in spite of Beeston ending their six game winning streak with a 1-1 draw in Elmbridge last week, and Wimbledon will be aiming for their sixth successive win since they lost 2-1 at East Grinstead in their Phase 1 visit in November. In Phase 1, Surbiton and Wimbledon drew 1-1 on the first occasion that the clubs had met in the league at first team level.
With second placed Hampstead travelling to third-placed East Grinstead, a Wimbledon win and a draw at Saint Hill would see Wimbledon go top themselves, on goal difference from Hampstead. East Grinstead lost 3-2 at Paddington Recreation Ground in the first half of the season as Hampstead won their first nine matches before losing at Surbiton and Wimbledon and salvaging a home draw with Clifton Robinsons last week in a mini-blip of form.
Beeston and Clifton Robinsons would normally both be delighted having earned a point away from home against the top two teams in the division, but Clifton will be disappointed that they couldn’t hold on for a win, having been pegged back to 3-3 with just three minutes remaining. Clifton have the opportunity to make amends when Beeston travel to Coombe Dingle in Bristol, where Clifton will want to avenge the 2-0 loss they suffered at Nottingham Hockey Centre in November. In spite of qualifying for the Top Six in fifth and sixth places respectively, Beeston and Clifton are proving that they can compete in the top flight.
The Bottom 5 schedule…
is restricted to one match with Swansea’s trip to the University of Birmingham postponed to 20 March, due to Swansea’s participation in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Challenge I in Sveti Ivan Zelina in Croatia. Buckingham are also in European Indoor action and conveniently use their bye week to compete in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy in Alanya, Turkey.
Loughborough Students have had a extended outdoor winter break, but finally return to action at home to Holcombe. Holcombe have had a disappointing season and are only three points above the relegation zone. Last weekend they crossed the Welsh border and took a point home to Kent, Swansea winning only their second point of the campaign. Loughborough, a point ahead of Holcombe, but with a game in hand will be hoping to secure their second home win of the season over Holcombe, after winning their Phase 1 encounter 1-0 in Leicestershire.