L1 Visit Wimbledon On Saturday
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Ladies make the short trip to Raynes Park High School on Saturday to take on Wimbledon in a local derby in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division on Saturday (Push back 2 pm).
Surbiton are making only their second league visit to Wimbledon having largely avoided their local rivals at both regional and national league levels over the years.
The previous visit came in February in the Top Six stage of last season's competition when Steph Elliott scored the only goal to give Surbiton a vital win in their quest for an eighth championship. Wimbledon visited Surbiton twice during the season and drew 1-1 on both occasions.
Surbiton have a three point lead over nearest rivals, Clifton Robinsons after four matches and conceded their first goal of the season at Buckingham last weekend, Madeleine Newlyn ending a run of 268 minutes of solid defence from the start of the season, although Surbiton won the match 6-1.
Since 1996-97, only Reading have taken longer to concede their first goal of the campaign, waiting 340 minutes in the 2011-12 season before Natalie Wray scored for Bowdon Hightown.
Of the five occasions that teams have gone at least 200 minutes before conceding from the start of the season, Surbiton occupy second, third and fourth with Canterbury the only other team, going 215 minutes before conceding in 2015-16.
By their own standards, Wimbledon have been disappointing this season, having drawn 2-2 in their last home game with Loughborough Students and 2-2 last weekend at the University of Birmingham. However a 3-1 away win at Hampstead & Westminster and an opening day 1-0 home win over Reading has ensured that Wimbledon go into the derby clash unbeaten.
Jen Eadie, their close season signing from Clydesdale Western, has made an immediate impact, as Wimbledon's top scorer with three goals. Former Surbiton player, Olivia Chilton has scored twice with Fiona Burnet; captain, Harriet Naismith and Suzy Petty also finding the target this season.
Surbiton have made an excellent start to their title defence with a 5-0 win at Loughborough Students; a 3-0 home win over East Grinstead; a 4-0 home win over newly promoted University of Nottingham and last Saturday's 6-1 win at Buckingham.
Sophie Hamilton leads the way with five goals with last season's Premier Division leading goalscorer, Darcy Bourne, not far behind on three. Elliott and Alice Wills have both scored twice, with Giselle Ansley, Izzy Petter, Hannah Martin and Leah Wilkinson all having scored once.
And with Surbiton's youth policy paying off last week when Jess Dyson scored on her debut for an 18th birthday to remember and Jenny O'Grady netting on only her second first team appearance, there is plenty to be optimistic about.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Clifton Robinsons host East Grinstead, the West Sussex club having won on five of their last six visits to Bristol.
Hampstead & Westminster are at home to Loughborough Students, who won away to Hampstead in October 2020, but at Bisham Abbey, not Paddington Recreation Ground.
Beeston travel to Holcombe hoping to earn their first points at the fourth attempt, Holcombe having won all three previous meeting in Kent by a three goal margin.
The University of Birmingham visit Reading for the first time since February 2017, when they won at Sonning Lane for the third time in succession, Reading having won four of the first five meetings with one match drawn.
And the University of Nottingham face Buckingham for the first time in the national league at Nottingham Hockey Centre.