L1 Host The University of Birmingham On Saturday
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies play their final home league game of 2019 when they welcome the University of Birmingham to Sugden Road on Saturday for a Reunion Rivalry noon showdown.
With both clubs having developed close links over the last few years, the restructuring of the Investec Women's Hockey League has allowed the clubs' second teams to meet in the Conference West at 2 pm in part two of an eagerly contested doubleheader.
Having lost several players at the end of last season and suffered unfortunate injuries in the last few weeks, Birmingham's first team find themselves at the wrong end of the table after losing their last five league games.
Birmingham started with a 2-2 home draw with Bowdon Hightown, currently bottom of the table after a three point deduction.
Defeats at newly promoted Hampstead & Westminster (0-3) and Buckingham (1-3) were followed with successive home victories against Beeston (2-0) and Holcombe (3-1).
A 2-1 loss at East Grinstead started their current disappointing run of defeats, with Surbiton going to Bournbrook and winning 3-1 on 27 October. Former Birmingham players, Holly Munro and Erica Sanders scored with Eloise Stenner scoring the third goal before Catherine Ledesma notched Birmingham's consolation goal in the final minute.
A 1-0 defeat at the other newly promoted club, Loughborough Students and a 3-1 loss in the return meeting with Beeston led to last week's narrow 1-0 home loss to Clifton Robinsons when Claire Thomas scored the only goal from the penalty spot.
Rafaela Brandao-Lee is Birmingham's top scorer with three goals whilst Ledesma and Lauren Hunt have also scored twice. Millie Giglio, sadly sidelined through injury is one of four players to have found the net this season alongside Coca Hall, Caroline Spence and Delyth Thomas.
Meanwhile Surbiton will be aiming to maintain their one hundred per cent record after winning 3-1 at Bowdon Hightown last week. All three goals came from penalty corners, Emily Atkinson opening the scoring with Hannah Martin scoring twice in the second half. Bowdon's goal came from a penalty stroke, Sian French scoring for the second week running.
Elsewhere, Hampstead are at home to Loughborough Students: In form East Grinstead are at Clifton Robinsons; Buckingham, like Birmingham currently on a five game losing streak visit Holcombe and Bowdon Hightown will hope they can lift themselves off the bottom of the table with victory at home to Beeston.
Birmingham are then at home to East Grinstead on Sunday.
Surbiton Ladies' second team will take on their Birmingham counterparts having lost for the second time in the IWHL Conference West last weekend, 3-2 at Oxford Hawks.
The defeat cut their lead at the top of the table to a single point over both Oxford University and Exe although Exe have played two games more.
Surbiton's first defeat came in game one of the doubleheader in Birmngham when Josephine Nash's penalty corner conversion at the end of the first half was enough to give Birmingham a 1-0 win.
Birmingham are now seventh and lost 3-2 at home to Exe last week as the Devon club also beat Basingstoke 3-2 at home to move up to third after a successful weekend.
Exe are at home to Oxford University on Saturday with fourth placed Oxford Hawks, three points behind Surbiton, away to bottom club, the University of Bristol.