The Investec Women’s Hockey League resumes after the mid-season break this weekend when Surbiton Ladies travel to Buckingham on Saturday (push back 12 noon).
Then on Sunday, it’s Surbiton’s turn to host Buckingham in the England Hockey Women’s Tier One competition (push back 1 pm at Sugden Road).
The Premier Division clash will take place at Stowe School, Stowe, Buckingham MK18 5EH.
Last season, Abbie Brant’s last gasp penalty corner conversion at Stowe School saw Buckingham win 1-0 and complete the league double over Surbiton.
The win also helped Buckingham qualify for the Championships play-offs in which Surbiton won 3-0 in the semi-finals
The first meeting this season, back at Sugden Road in November was won by Surbiton 2-1
Buckingham resume in sixth place, two points away from a playoff place, after mixed fortunes over their first ten matches. A 2-1 home win over East Grinstead was followed by draws at Holcombe (1-1) and at the University of Birmingham (2-2). Another 2-1 home win, this time over Bowdon Hightown saw Buckingham move up to third place, but a disappointing 2-1 home defeat by Beeston, who won by the same score at Sugden Road in the last league match of 2018, saw the Stowe School club drop to fifth.
A 4-0 win at Canterbury saw Buckingham move as high as second before the 2-1 defeat at Surbiton. Slough were beaten at Stowe 1-0, but successive defeats at home to in form Clifton Robinsons (2-1) and at Bowdon Hightown (2-0) at the end of 2018 saw Buckingham lose ground.
Natasha James is Buckingham’s leading goalscorer with five goals, with Phoebe Richards on three. Madeleine Newlyn, Eloise Laity and Zoe Shipperley have all found the net twice, with Lottie Porter’s single goal coming at Sugden Road.
Elsewhere, Surbiton’s closest rivals, Holcombe and East Grinstead clash in West Sussex. East Grinstead would be in a three way tie at the top of the table if not for a three point deduction due to an ineligible player earlier in the season. And with East Grinstead and Holcombe due to visit Sugden Road over the next two weekends, the race for top spot could be in an interesting position in a relatively short time.
Clifton Robinsons visit the University of Birmingham; Beeston are at home to Bowdon Hightown and Slough host Canterbury in a key battle at the bottom of the Premier Division table.
On Sunday, Buckingham meet Surbiton for the third time in senior national knockout competition. The teams first met at Sugden Road in November 2009 when Surbiton of the South Clubs’ Women’s Hockey League shocked IWHL Conference side Buckingham with a 3-1 win, Maddie Tait scoring twice with Helen Grant also on target. Fiona Farley scored Buckingham’s consolation goal.
Then in March 2014, the teams met in the Women’s Cup semi-final at Stowe School, Surbiton winning 5-1 Giselle Ansley scoring twice, Sarah Page, Abi Robinson and Eloise Stenner also scoring whilst Zoe Shipperley scored for Buckingham.