L1 Host The University of Birmingham On Saturday
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies are at home to the University of Birmingham on Saturday in their penultimate Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division match of 2022. Push back at Sugden Road is at 4 pm.
The West Midlands students make their first visit to Surbiton since November 2019 when the match ended 1-1, Susie Catlin scoring for Surbiton and Lauren Hunt on target for Birmingham.
Since then, the last two meetings have been in the Second City with Surbiton winning both games, 3-0 in October 2020 before the season was curtailed and 4-1 in October 2021 in the only meeting of 2021-22 before Surbiton spent the second half of the season in the Top Six and Birmingham in the Bottom Five.
Surbiton have only ever lost twice to Birmingham with both defeats occurring in the West Midlands, 3-1 in October 2017 and 1-0 in March 2019.
At Sugden Road, the closest Birmingham have come to a victory is salvaging two draws, in November 2019 as mentioned above and in November 2015.
Surbiton have won the other six games on home turf, usually by a single goal except in October 2013, when Surbiton won 3-1. However Surbiton's biggest victory in the fixture came in February 2017 when Birmingham lost 6-0, only for Surbiton to lose 3-1 eight months later to show how fortunes can change.
There have been three goalscorers who have scored for both teams in the history of the fixture. Erica Sanders, Hannah Martin and curiously, Own Goal! Birmingham's goal in their 2-1 home loss in October 2012 came via an own goal and Surbiton's 3-1 win in October 2013 was also helped by an own goal. On Saturday, Alice Wills can join this unique club if she scores for Surbiton as she scored for Birmingham in the 3-1 win in October 2017.
This season, Birmingham have struggled in recent weeks, a 1-1 home draw with Loughborough ending a run of four straight defeats. Birmingham lost 4-1 at Reading, before three successive 2-0 losses: at Beeston; home to Hampstead & Westminster and away to Buckingham.
Birmingham lost 2-1 at East Grinstead on the opening day of the season, but followed up with a 4-2 win at the University of Nottingham and a 2-1 home win over Clifton Robinsons before drawing 2-2 at home to Wimbledon.
Hannah Pearce has scored four goals for the students with Delyth Thomas on three. Millie Giglio, Sarah Spooner, Betsan Thomas and Lily Walker have each scored once.
Meanwhile Surbiton go into the match with a five point lead and a four game winning streak with Sabbie Heesh beaten for only the fourth time this season after a run of three clean sheets, Beeston taking the lead before Surbiton won 3-1 at Nottingham Hockey Centre last Saturday.
Surbiton are yet to concede a goal at home this season and will be hoping to keep their goal intact once again.
Second placed Wimbledon are at home to third placed East Grinstead, whilst fourth placed Hampstead & Westminster welcome sixth placed Clifton Robinsons to Central London.
Fifth placed Beeston will hope to cement their Top Six place as they travel to seventh placed Loughborough Students. Bottom club Buckingham are at home to tenth place Reading, battling to maintain their top flight status after being promoted last season and the other promoted club, ninth placed the University of Nottingham are at home to eleventh placed Holcombe.