L1 Host Clifton Robinsons On Sat.
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies play their last Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division match at home in the regular season when they welcome Clifton Robinsons to Sugden Road on Saturday (push back 12 noon).
But with Surbiton having clinched a top place finish and the right to a home game in the Championship semi-finals, it will not be the last time that the girls play a competitive game on home turf.
Surbiton could receive confirmation that they will host Buckingham in the semi-finals tomorrow if results go Buckingham's way.
For Clifton the scenario is more serious as they are one of four teams on 17 points, mathematically with a chance of finishing ninth and facing the loser of the Division One North and South playoff.
Clifton are on a dire run having picked up just two points in their last six games with draws at Loughborough Students and Holcombe. They last won in November at the University of Birmingham.
That win lifted them into fourth and in a playoff place, but they now find themselves in seventh, ahead of Holcombe and Loughborough on goal difference.
Their season started with a 4-2 loss at Buckingham, but they beat Holcombe 2-1 at home in their second match of the season.
Three successive defeats: 3-2 at Hampstead; 1-0 at home to Surbiton (former Clifton player Georgie Twigg with the only goal) and 2-1 at home to Beeston saw them drop to eighth.
A 3-2 win at Bowdon Hightown and a goalfest at home to Hampstead which saw the newly promoted team suffer their first top flight defeat by a 5-4 scoreline revived Clifton's season.
A heavy 4-0 defeat at East Grinstead was followed by successive wins at home to Loughborough (3-2) and at Birmingham (1-0) which gave the Bristol club real hope of making the playoffs.
Instead they've lost three games by a 2-1 margin at home to East Grinstead; at Beeston and at home to Birmingham and lost 3-2 at home to Buckingham. A 2-2 draw at Loughborough and last week's 1-1 draw at Holcombe are the only positives in a run which has seen them drop from fourth in early December to seventh as part of a logjam in the bottom half of the table.
As usual, Clifton have been able to rely on Claire Thomas, their top scorer with seven goals and Phoebe Richards on six. Catherine Macaulay has chipped in with three with Amy Burton, their winter signing from Swansea scoring twice since her arrival in 2020 to make an immediate impact. Kathryn Lane has also scored twice.
Bowdon Hightown, relegated last week, are at home to Loughborugh, whose 6-0 home defeat at the hands of East Grinstead forced them to drop from fifth to ninth. Holcombe host the University of Birmingham in another key matchup, whilst Beeston a point ahead of the group of four, also in danger as they host in form East Grinstead.
East Grinstead will be aiming to hold off Hampstead & Westminster to gain home advantage when they meet in the semi-finals. Buckingham will be hoping to get a positive result at home to Hampstead to book their place in the final four.