L1 Visit Wimbledon On Saturday Afternoon
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies visit Wimbledon on Saturday afternoon and will try and avoid becoming the third team in succession to be beaten by Wimbledon whilst leading the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division table.
Hampstead and Westminster were beaten 2-1 a fortnight ago and East Grinstead lost 3-0 last Saturday after replacing Hampstead at the top of the table.
Surbiton became the third divisional leaders in as many weeks in spite of only drawing 1-1 at home to Beeston and will be keen to stay there after Saturday's game at Raynes Park High School (push back 3 pm).
Although they are only a short distance apart, Surbiton and Wimbledon's first teams have only met once in league competition, back in October when Darcy Bourne equalised in the 55th minute after Fiona Crackles' 21st minute penalty corner gave Wimbledon a 1-0 half time lead in Phase 1.
When they were both members of the South Clubs' Women's Hockey League, they managed to avoid each other by Wimbledon being relegated in the same season Surbiton were promoted from the division below. Surbiton reached the Premier Division in time for the 2012-13 season, whilst Wimbledon had to wait until 2020-21 to return to the to top flight, after being relegated in 1992-93.
Wimbledon were automatically promoted without going through a playoff in 2019-20 when the Division One South campaign was halted a game early due to Covid-19.
Wimbledon didn't meet their local rivals before the 2020-21 season was also abruptly halted due to Covid.
When the 2021-22 season got underway, Hampstead won 3-1 in South-West London before wins over Holcombe (2-0), Swansea (4-1) and Beeston (6-0) kick started Wimbledon's season.
Two successive 1-1 draws against Surbiton and the University of Birmingham were followed by Wimbledon's second and so far most recent defeat, 2-1 at East Grinstead.
Since then, Wimbledon have won their last five games: Loughborough Students (8-0), Buckingham (5-1), Clifton Robinsons (2-1), Hampstead & Westminster (2-1) and East Grinstead (3-0).
Sarah Jones is Wimbledon's leading goalscorer with eight goals, followed by Eliza Brett on five. Lucy Holder, Hollie Pearne-Webb and Fiona Burnet have all scored four goals apiece with Crackles and Kate Maxey on three.
Olivia Chilton has scored twice with Sarah-Jayne Thorburn, captain Harriet Naismith and Suzy Petty all scoring once.
With both England teams currently in Argentina for this weekend's FIH Pro League matches, both teams will be missing players, including both scorers in October.
Bourne, Sophie Hamilton, and goalkeeper Sabbie Heesh are representing Surbiton with Crackles and England captain Hollie Pearne-Webb absent for Wimbledon.
Wimbledon could go top on goal difference if they win and Hampstead & Westminster draw with East Grinstead in West Sussex.
In the other Top Six fixture, Clifton Robinsons are at home to Beeston with both teams likely to be confident after drawing with Hampstead and Surbiton respectively last weekend.