Reigning champions, Surbiton Ladies, who moved to the top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division table for the first time this season after a 5-0 win at Bowdon Hightown last weekend, host third placed East Grinstead to Sugden Road on Saturday (push back 2 pm).

Surbiton and East Grinstead, along with second placed Holcombe are all on seven points and are all unbeaten after three league matches.

Both Surbiton and East Grinstead have experience of dethroning the league leaders this season, Surbiton having beaten the University of Birmingham 3-2 in week two, whilst East Grinstead beat Clifton Robinsons 3-1 last Saturday.

Surbiton will be aiming to be the first team to stay at the top for more than a week in a division where the race for the top of the table has recently become a game of musical chairs.

After beating Reading 2-0 at home on the opening day of the season, East Grinstead came close to losing at Canterbury before Bridget Blackwood scored a late equaliser to force a 1-1 draw.

East Grinstead have lost Olympic Gold medallist, Sophie Bray, who has recently been in scoring form with Kampong in the Netherlands, whilst Charlotte Childs has joined the University of Durham and Kate Reynolds has moved to Sevenoaks.

Both Haines sisters are back, Takara returning to East Grinstead after playing in Australia after Tacita was re-registered from Bognor HC.

With Emma Lee-Smith joining from Harleston Magpies and Jess Dean from Gloucester City, Pip Lock from Havant and Millie Regan from Trojans, East Grinstead are aiming to build on last season’s fifth place and qualify for the playoffs this season.

Last season, East Grinstead’s very first match in the top flight was the corresponding fixture at Sugden Road, Takara Haines giving the visitors the lead before Chloe Palmer rescued a point. In the return, Surbiton won 2-0, Beckie Middleton and Olivia Chilton both scoring before half time.

Surbiton’s assistant coach, Niall Mutch said: “It’s great to have so much interest, as our Gold medal-winning Olympians come back to the club.

In terms of the match, East Grinstead are always a tough team to play – we drew with them down here last season. We’re level on points, but really we’re not fixated on the league table. That will take care of itself if we perform well. We have a strong and deep squad to call on, and we will try to keep things simple and take things one match at a time.”

Holcombe host Slough on Saturday evening, Clifton Robinsons are at home to Bowdon Hightown and the University of Birmingham entertain Leicester, who are yet to score a goal this season in Saturday’s other fixtures.

Bottom club Reading are at home to Canterbury on Sunday lunchtime.

Colin Pike