Champions L1 At Home To Wimbledon On Sat.
By Colin Pike
Already crowned champions of the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division, Surbiton Ladies host Wimbledon in the last league game of the season at Sugden Road on Saturday at 2 pm.
As it's the last round of fixtures, all the games are scheduled to start at 2 pm and Wimbledon will be battling with Hampstead & Westminster and East Grinstead for runners-up spot and European qualification.
Wimbledon go into the final weekend in second spot but with rivals Hampstead & Westminster entertaining East Grinstead at Paddington Recreation Ground at the same time, the race to join Surbiton in Europe will go to the wire.
Wimbledon have 38 points, Hampstead, whose 2-0 home defeat to Beeston last weekend handed Surbiton the league title, are on 37 points and East Grinstead are fourth with 36 points.
Surbiton and Wimbledon hadn't met in league competition before this season and both matches so far have been incredibly close.
Back in October, Fiona Crackles put Wimbledon ahead before Darcy Bourne equalised to earn a point and preserve Surbiton's then unbeaten record for the season at Sugden Road.
And in the reverse fixture at Raynes Park High School, the match was heading for a goalless draw before Steph Elliott's penalty corner conversion three minutes from time earned Surbiton an important win.
Surbiton's victory was the only setback Wimbledon received during a run of seven wins between 7 November 2021 and 5 March 2022, since when Wimbledon have had alternate wins and losses, losing at home to East Grinstead and at Beeston but winning at Hampstead and home to Clifton Robinsons.
Fiona Burnet and Sarah Jones are Wimbledon's joint top scorers with 11 goals, with Eliza Brett on 6 and former Surbiton player, Hollie Pearne-Webb on 5. Other former Surbiton players to feature are Lucy Holder on 4 and Olivia Chilton with 3. Crackles and Kate Maxey have also scored three goals this season, whilst Sarah-Jayne Thorburn and Wimbledon captain, Harriet Naismith have netted twice and Suzy Petty has scored once.
With their men's team also on the verge of European qualification, Wimbledon women will want to try and make it an historic double for the South West London club.
The other Top Six clash sees Beeston host Clifton Robinsons, with both teams knowing that they are destined to finish fifth and sixth respectively.
In the Bottom Five, with Swansea's relegation to Division One confirmed, the battle is on for the final finishing positions. Unlike the Top Six, the Bottom Five has two rounds of matches remaining with the final round after Easter. The University of Birmingham, who have almost made certain of seventh place, are at home to Holcombe, with whom they have already drawn twice this season in Kent.
In the other match, Buckingham are at home to Loughborough Students and will be aiming to complete a grand slam of three wins against the Leicestershire students.