L1 Visit Hampstead On Saturday
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies face a second top of the table clash in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division Top Six when they visit Hampstead & Westminster on Saturday afternoon (2 pm).
Hampstead can join Surbiton on 34 points if they end their visitors' unbeaten record this season but would be likely to remain second on goal difference.
When the teams last met in September at Sugden Road, Surbiton won 3-2 to end Hampstead's run of ten successive league wins, starting with their final game of 2020-21.
Hampstead's form dipped, only able to salvage a 3-3 home draw with Clifton Robinsons in between losing 2-1 at Wimbledon and 3-0 at East Grinstead before finding their form once more at Beeston last Saturday, when they won 4-2.
Surbiton also won 3-2 when they last met Hampstead at Paddington Recreation Ground in February 2020, but Hampstead had the better of things when the teams were members of the South Club's Women's Hockey League and playing in a top of the table clash in the top division in the country was just a dream.
Even when Surbiton won Division One in 2009-10 to earn promotion to the national league, Hampstead won 3-2 at Paddington Recreation Ground after drawing 2-2 at Sugden Road.
Hampstead had won Division Two in 2006-07 and after drawing 3-3 at Sugden Road, won 4-3 on their way to pipping Tulse Hill & Dulwich to promotion.
In the early days of the 21st century, before Surbiton dropped down to county level in advance of storming up the leagues, Hampstead were dominant at home, Surbiton failing to score in three games, with a goalless draw and two defeats.
Last weekend, Surbiton handed East Grinstead their biggest defeat since their Sussex league days, a stunning second half performance extending a 1-0 interval lead to an emphatic 6-0 thrashing. Darcy Bourne and Sophie Hamilton, both back after playing for England in Argentina notched a hat-trick and brace respectively, with youngster Taz Cookman finishing off a contender for goal of the season.
Surbiton will have to look out for Lauren Turner, Hampstead's leading goalscorer on eight with Lucy Hyams second on seven. Melanie Wilkinson and Sarah Robertson are both on four, along with Emily Douglas, who scored twice last week.
Holly Hunt and Fran Tew, along with Esme Burge are on two with Grace Balsdon on one.
Hamilton leads the way for Surbiton with nine, one ahead of Bourne with Leah Wilkinson third on four.
East Grinstead, third on 30 points will be hoping for a draw in London, so they can try and close the gap with a win over sixth placed Clifton Robinsons, who were beaten 6-1 earlier in the season.
Fourth placed Wimbledon, five points off the lead, also scored six when Beeston, today's visitors last visited them, but without reply.
In the Bottom 5, It's Swansea's turn to have the first of two bye weeks as Holcombe host the University of Birmingham and Buckingham travel to Loughborough Students in the battle to avoid relegation to Division One.