Surbiton Ladies host Canterbury in the first half of a men’s/ women’s double header at Sugden Road on Saturday (push back 4 pm).
The match is followed by Surbiton Men’s game v Brooklands Manchester University (push back 6 pm). Admission covering both games is £5.
Canterbury come to Elmbridge in serious danger of relegation to the newly structured Division One, having failed to win so far this season in the Premier Division. With four games to play, Canterbury trail ninth placed Slough by four points and the University of Birmingham by eight after the Midlands students beat Surbiton 1-0 last Saturday for only their second win of the season.
A 1-0 home defeat to Clifton Robinsons on the opening day was followed by a 2-2 draw at Bowdon Hightown and a 1-1 draw at home to Slough. A 2-1 defeat at Holcombe and a 1-1 draw in Birmingham kept Canterbury in eighth place, but a run of five successive defeats saw them drop to the bottom of the table on 10 November. Buckingham won 4-0 at Polo Farm before another heavy defeat, 5-0 at East Grinstead. Home defeats to Beeston (3-1) and 2-1 to Surbiton were followed by a 2-0 loss in Bristol to Clifton Robinsons to end a disappointing 2018.
In 2019, Canterbury repeated their 1-1 draws with Slough and the University of Birmingham in the reverse fixtures but the last two weeks have seen the team lose 2-1 at home to Bowdon Hightown and most alarmingly, 6-2 at Buckingham.
Grace Balsdon is their top scorer with three goals with Agustina Alvarez having scored twice since she joined Canterbury from Sporting in January. The other seven goals have all been shared between seven different players, but there is still optimism for Canterbury’s youth policy as youngster Tilly Tillings scored the first goal at Buckingham last week.
For a club which has competed in Europe with Surbiton as well as in three IWHL finals from 2014-16, relegation would be a bitter blow for Canterbury, but last season saw Leicester, another club with an impressive history relegated from the top flight and Slough have also spent time at Conference level.
Meanwhile, Surbiton will want to do all they can to close the three point gap which separates them from leaders, Holcombe with four games to play.
Holcombe travel to Bowdon Hightown and third placed East Grinstead host the University of Birmingham. Beeston will need to beat Buckingham in Nottingham to maintain their challenge for a playoff place and Canterbury will be looking at the result of Slough’s match with Clifton Robinsons.