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W1 Visit University of Birmingham On Saturday


29th September 2023

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Women travel to the University of Birmingham on Saturday in the Vitality Women's Hockey League Premier Division (push back 2.30 pm).

Surbiton played Birmingham twice at home last season, once in the Premier Division (5-0) and once in League Finals Pool A (4-0), so this will be their first visit to the University since October 2021 when they won 4-1.

The teams met in the 2012 Women's Cup Final at Cannock, when Birmingham won 4-1,  Surbiton having won the Conference East, and won promotion via the Promotion Tournament, but since 2012-13, Surbiton have largely dominated meetings in the top-flight with the West Midlands students.

Birmingham have only won two of nineteen regular season Premier Division matches, both on home turf in successive seasons: 3-1 in October 2017 and 1-0 in March 2019.

Surbiton have won 15, with two games drawn, both 1-1 at Sugden Road in November 2015 and November 2019.

The 3-1 defeat was Surbiton's biggest EHL loss until East Grinstead won 6-1 at Saint Hill in the last game of the 2019-20 season, but for whatever reason, Surbiton have found it easier to win by bigger margins in the West Midlands, rather than back in Elmbridge.

Last season's 5-0 home win beat the previous record of 3-1 at Sugden Road in October 2013, but away from home, Surbiton won 6-0 in February 2017, and have also won 4-0, 4-1 and 3-0 over the years.

This season, Birmingham have drawn their opening two matches, 1-1 at home to Hampstead & Westminster and 2-2 at Bowdon last weekend. Lily Sokhi scored both goals against Bowdon with Amy Grassom earning a point against Hampstead.

Meanwhile, Surbiton bounced back from their disappointing opening day defeat at Reading to beat newly-promoted Isca & University of Exeter 6-1 last Saturday. Surbiton were awarded two penalty strokes in the same match for the third time in the Premier Division, but for the first time selected two different players to slot the strokes home.

Sarah Evans and Hannah French (nee Martin) duly scored to become the first players since Jade Mayne and Mel Clewlow to both score from the spot for Canterbury v Olton & West Warwicks in March 2013. 

On the previous two occasions, Surbiton had been awarded two penalty strokes in the same game, Giselle Ansley put both away on the opening day of the 2017-18 season at Canterbury, although Grace Balsdon earned a point in a 2-2 draw with a stroke of her own in the final minute.

Georgie Twigg was the first Surbiton player to score two penalty strokes against Olton at Sugden Road in November 2012, when Surbiton won 4-2.

Elsewhere on Saturday, early leaders Reading welcome third-placed Hampstead & Westminster to Sonning Lane. Beeston, the other team to have won both of their opening matches, are also at home, to fourth-placed Clifton Robinsons.

Bowdon face Isca & University of Exeter for the first time in the EHL, whilst the University of Nottingham travel to the reigning champions, East Grinstead, who are still looking for their first point this season.

Loughborough Students visit Wimbledon, where they drew 2-2 last season.