Surbiton Ladies, a point behind leaders Holcombe at the top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League, travel to Bristol on Saturday to face Clifton Robinsons.
The game will be played at the Coombe Dingle Sports Complex, Coombe Lane, Bristol BS9 2BJ
Whilst Surbiton will want to finish top of the table at the end of the regular season, Clifton also have reasons for wanting to win tomorrow after they lost 2-0 to Slough last weekend to drop three points behind fourth placed Buckingham with just three games to play.
Clifton have had an up and down season after an opening day 1-0 win at Canterbury. A week later they lost 1-0 at Surbiton. That was the first of a run of four defeats in five games which saw Clifton drop to eighth. Holcombe won 3-1 at Coombe Dingle; Beeston won 4-3 in Nottingham and after a 1-1 draw at home to Slough, Clifton returned from West Sussex with a 1-0 defeat at East Grinstead.
Then suddenly, Clifton found some form, winning four games in succession: 4-1 at home to Bowdon Hightown; 4-2 at home to the University of Birmingham; 2-1 at Buckingham and 2-0 at home to Canterbury, which saw them move into the playoff places for the first time this season.
A 2-2 draw in the return game in Birmingham and a narrow 1-0 home defeat by Buckingham saw them drop down to sixth, but wins at home to Beeston (3-0) and at Bowdon Hightown (2-1) helped them return to fourth place before last week’s setback to Slough set them three points adrift into fifth place.
A concern will be that of Clifton’s 25 league goals, 14 have been scored by Claire Thomas, currently the Premier Division’s leading goalscorer, although Sophie Bray closed to within three with a hat-trick for East Grinstead against the University of Birmingham.
Catherine Macaulay is next on three; Nicola Moss, Victoria McCabe and Holly Savage have each scored twice with Carol Middough and Aileen Davis both scoring once.
Meanwhile Surbiton rebounded last week from their 1-0 defeat at the University of Birmingham to beat Canterbury 2-0 after a goalless first half. The reigning champions finish the season with a home game against Slough next Saturday before the regular season finale at Bowdon Hightown on 30 March.
Holcombe visit fourth placed Buckingham on Saturday, are at home to Clifton Robinsons next Saturday and finish the season with a local derby at Canterbury.
East Grinstead, in third place, are also in contention and visit Canterbury on Saturday. Canterbury will be relegated at the end of the day if they lose.
Slough and the University of Birmingham are battling to avoid the Promotion Tournament and both teams are at home this weekend. Slough host a Beeston team currently in a disastrous run of form having lost their last four games, only scoring one goal in the process. Birmingham host Bowdon Hightown, five points ahead of ninth placed Slough but who could unexpectedly be sucked into the Promotion Tournament race if both Birmingham and Slough end the season in good form, especially if they both win tomorrow.