Surbiton Ladies have finished top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League for the fourth successive season after Holcombe, the only team which could have caught them, lost 5-0 at Canterbury on Sunday
Surbiton have qualified for Europe but their performance at the EuroHockey Club Cup on home turf on 17-20 May, together with Holcombe’s progress in the second tier Trophy tournament will determine whether Surbiton would qualify for the top tier competition if they should fail to defend their title at Lee Valley on 28/29 April.
Holcombe only had a 12 player squad available and realistically had to beat Canterbury by eight goals to pip Surbiton on goal difference. Surbiton ultimately finished three points ahead of Holcombe.
East Grinstead finished third in spite of having lost 2-0 at home to Clifton Robinsons on Saturday. The University of Birmingham drew 0-0 with Slough and missed out on the playoffs as Buckingham, 1-0 winners over Surbiton on Saturday thanks to Abbie Brant’s last gasp penalty corner, followed up with a 3-1 home win over Bowdon Hightown to snatch fourth place by a point after a run of three successive wins. Brant scored again in the final minute to end up as joint top scorer on eleven with Surbiton’s Giselle Ansley and Birmingham’s Erica Sanders.
Birmingham’s goalless draw ended a run of 111 games since they had last drawn 0-0, ironically against Slough in February 2012.
Slough finished ninth and will take part in the Promotion Tournament with the three Conference winners: Hampstead & Westminster (East), Beeston (North) and Stourport (West) with the top two playing in the 2018-19 Premier Division.
Leicester could only draw 2-2 at home to Clifton Robinsons and are automatically relegated. Leicester have only ever spent one season below the top flight, having won promotion at the first attempt in 1997-98, having been relegated in 1996-97.