L1 Aim To Clinch Title On Saturday Evening
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies will be aiming to clinch their eighth successive Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division title when they play Hampstead & Westminster at Sugden Road on Saturday evening (push back 5 pm).
Surbiton hold a seven point advantage over second placed East Grinstead with just three games to play, having found their form at the right stage of the season, winning eleven of their last twelve matches to take command at the top of the table.
With several new players joining at the start of a shortened Olympic cycle, Surbiton took a while to gel, drawing three of their first five games before finding their rhythm. Since they drew 1-1 at home to Wimbledon on 23 October, only another 1-1 home draw with Beeston on 12 February has interrupted their run of wins which rocketed them into first place.
Hampstead have gone the other way form wise, winning their first nine league games of the season before stuttering, beginning with their 3-2 loss at Surbiton on 27 November, which saw their winning streak halted.
Since then, Hampstead have won twice in the next seven games, 5-1 at Clifton Robinsons and 4-2 at Beeston with their only other point coming in a 3-3 home draw with Clifton. Losses to title rivals East Grinstead (3-0) and Wimbledon (1-0 and 2-1) plus a home defeat to Surbiton three weeks ago (4-2) have seen Hampstead drop down to fourth, and in a three way battle with East Grinstead and Wimbledon for the second European place.
East Grinstead head to Clifton Robinsons and Wimbledon travel to Nottingham to play Beeston on Saturday afternoon as the race for Europe continues.
In the Bottom 5, following England Hockey's announcement that only the eleventh team will be relegated to Division One, Swansea may be heartbroken a week after winning a match for the first time in the Premier Division, 2-1 at Loughborough Students. Loughborough are locked together on 13 points with Holcombe, who meet in Kent, whilst Swansea are at home to the University of Birmingham, the team they lost 1-0 to in a rearranged match last Sunday. Any result but a Swansea win will see the Welsh club relegated.