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W1 Visit Bowdon On Saturday Afternoon


10th November 2023

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Women visit Bowdon for the first time since November 2019 on Saturday for their last away Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division game of 2023 (push back 1.30 pm).

Bowdon were relegated from the Premier Division in 2019-20 and after the 2020-21 season was declared null and void due to Covid-19, Bowdon were denied promotion from Division One North at effectively their first attempt in 2021-22 by a University of Nottingham team which went unbeaten throughout the season.

Bowdon made no mistake in 2022-23, pipping second-placed Stourport by two points to make their return to the top-flight.

At one time, Bowdon were one of the top clubs in the country, although they last lifted the Premier Division title in 2008-09, when they won were champions by finishing top of the season after an 18 game schedule.

Bowdon finished fourth in the Premier Division in 2010-11, the season they first played Surbiton in the Women's Cup final at Cannock, Bowdon beating their Conference East opponents 4-1.

The teams met again in 2012-13 after Surbiton's promotion via the Promotion Tournament, with Bowdon winning 2-1 on home soil. That remains Bowdon's only home victory over Surbiton, with Surbiton prevailing on four occasions and three matches drawn, including two goalless draws. 

This season, Bowdon have proved to be the Premier Division's draw specialist with five draws in nine games. Bowdon go into the penultimate round of matches in fourth place on 14 points, but with the teams between third and eighth separated by just two points, there is much to play for before securing a Top Six place.

Bowdon started with a 2-1 win at East Grinstead before drawing 2-2 at home to the University of Birmingham. A 1-0 home win over fellow newly-promoted club Isca & University of Exeter was followed by a 3-0 victory at Loughborough Students.

Bowdon then had four draws in succession: 1-1 at home to Wimbledon; 2-2 at home to the University of Nottingham; 1-1 at Beeston and 2-2 at home to Clifton Robinsons.

Reading finally ended Bowdon's unbeaten record last weekend with a 2-1 win in Berkshire.

Bowdon's goals have been shared around the team with Sian French, Jane Donnelly, Aine Curran, Catriona Booth, Katie Alexander and Sophia Crawshay all scoring twice. Rosie Threadgold, Keely Perham and Hannah Macdonald have all scored once.

Meanwhile, Surbiton have found their form and consistency after losing on opening day 3-2 at Reading, last week's 5-0 win at the University of Nottingham taking their winning streak to eight games. Although Surbiton's attack has been prolific as the highest scoring team in the division with 29 goals, their defence has been equally outstanding, having only conceded seven goals, four less than nearest challengers, Bowdon.

Sabbie Heesh and her fellow defenders have kept clean sheets in their last three games and it is currently 237 minutes since East Grinstead's Laura Roper (nee Unsworth) was the last opposing player to breach the Surbiton defence.

Surbiton's Hannah French (nee Martin) is the Premier Division's top scorer with ten goals, coming in batches of two goals in five out of her last six appearances. French also scored twice in Surbiton's last visit in November 2019 when they won 3-1, their other goal coming from Emily Atkinson, Bowdon's goal coming from Sian French's penalty stroke.

Elsewhere on Saturday, second-placed Reading can book their place in the Top Six if they win at Wimbledon, who are on the cusp of qualification in seventh place.

Third-placed Hampstead & Westminster visit eleventh-placed Beeston. Fifth-placed The University of Nottingham visit eighth-placed Clifton Robinsons; The University of Birmingham host Loughborough Students in a Midlands varsity derby with the teams in ninth and tenth places respectively. Bottom club Isca & University of Exeter will be aiming for their second win of the season when they visit East Grinstead, currently making progress in their quest for a Top Six place as they defend their league title.