L1 Visit Hampstead On Saturday Afternoon
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies travel to Paddington Recreation Ground on Saturday to face Hampstead & Westminster in a local derby (push back 4 pm).
The game is the first of a men's/ women's double header at the Central London venue with the men's game starting at 6 pm.
Hampstead are third, four points behind Surbiton in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division and are on a three game winning streak after drawing at East Grinstead on 15 October.
A 3-0 home win over Loughborough Students, an 8-2 convincing home victory against the University of Nottingham and a 2-0 win at the University of Birmingham has kept them in touch with both Wimbledon and Surbiton at the top of the table.
Last season, Hampstead won their first nine matches of the season before losing 3-2 at Surbiton in the last game of 2021, but this season after starting with a 5-0 home win against Buckingham, drew 3-3 at Holcombe and then lost 3-1 at home to Wimbledon before the 2-2 draw at East Grinstead.
Surbiton also lost against Wimbledon in a 2-1 defeat at Raynes Park High School but have won their other six games, keeping five clean sheets out of seven.
Anna O'Flanagan is Hampstead's leading goalscorer with six goals, followed by Lauren Hunt on four, and Holly Hunt and Lauren Turner both on three. Lily Owsley and Melanie Wilkinson have both scored twice with Grace Balsdon, Olivia Hamilton, Lucy Hyams and Sarah Robertson all scoring once.
There will also be bragging rights up for grabs in the Hamilton household with Olivia and Sophie Hamilton facing each other for the first time since Olivia joined Hampstead and follows a similar situation with the corresponding men's game last season when Surbiton's Gareth Furlong faced brother Rhodri at Paddington Rec in the last game of the 2021-22 season before they met again in the first match of the 2022-23 season at Holcombe Park due to Rhodri's transfer from Hampstead to Holcombe.
Top flight meetings between the teams have been relatively rare due to Hampstead only winning promotion in 2018-19. Surbiton have won both previous meetings at Paddington Rec, 3-2 in February 2020 and 4-2 last March, although Hampstead were more successful when the teams met in the South Clubs' Women's Hockey League, Hampstead winning 4-3 in March 2007 in Division Two and 3-2 in February 2010 in Division One, Surbiton suffering their first defeat of the season but ultimately winning promotion to the VWHL.
Second placed Wimbledon are three points behind Surbiton with a nineteen inferior goal difference and travel to fourth placed Beeston on Saturday.
Fifth placed East Grinstead don't play until Sunday as part of a men's/ women's double header at Reading. Clifton Robinsons meet the University of Nottingham for the first time in the VWHL on Saturday; Loughborough Students go to Holcombe and Buckingham, still looking for their first points after seven games, host the University of Birmingham in Saturday's other matches.