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W1 Open League Finals Pool A v Clifton Robinsons on Sat.


15th March 2024

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Women begin their Women's Hockey League Finals campaign on Saturday when they host Clifton Robinsons at Sugden Road at 1545.

Please note that if you are coming by car to Surbiton on Saturday, you should plan your journey in advance as Junctions 10 and 11 on the M25 are going to be closed due to bridge work and other improvements. There will be diversions in place but traffic delays are expected.

The game can be watched via the Surbiton Hockey Club You Tube channel here

By finishing top of the Women's Hockey League Premier Division, Surbiton not only earned a minimum of the second European place, but after a change to the League Finals regulations, are guaranteed to play all games in Pool A at Sugden Road.

In 2022-23, teams 1-4 were guaranteed two home games and teams 5-8 were guaranteed one home game. In 2023-24, teams 1-2 have three home games; teams 3-4 have two home games; teams 5-6 one home game and teams 7-8 play all their games away from home.

With Surbiton Men having finished second in the Men's Hockey League Premier Division, this enables Surbiton to host three double header weekends, although there will be a gap on 6 April as the Women's games are played at 2 pm and the Men's at 6 pm on the final day of the season.

Clifton Robinsons didn't qualify for the Top Six, but finished second in the Lower Six to finish eighth overall and claim their place in the tournament. The Bristol based club were last at Sugden Road in November when Surbiton won 4-1 with Sarah Evans scoring twice, supported by Giselle Ansley and a last gasp goal from Leah Wilkinson. Former Surbiton player, Holly Munro scored for Clifton.

Historically, Clifton have only beaten Surbiton once in the Premier Division since the teams first met in 2012-13, Kathryn Lane scoring the only goal in March 2020. However, Clifton were the surprise team in last season's League Finals, winning at Hampstead & Westminster and the University of Nottingham and drawing with Wimbledon before earning an extra point to qualify for the semi-finals.

They even battled with eventual champions, East Grinstead in the semi-finals, drawing 3-3 before losing out in the shootout. Hampstead avenged their pool defeat by winning 4-2 in the third place playoff with Clifton earning a well deserved fourth place finish.

This season, Livvy Hoskins, who scored against Surbiton on their last two visits to Bristol, is Clifton's top scorer with six goals. Sarah-Jayne Thorburn and Munro are both on five with Evie Grindal on three. Phoebe Richards has scored twice with Carmen Ansley, who is likely to line-up against Giselle on the pitch; Amy Burton; Rebecca Daniel; Jess Lea and Izzy Webb all on target once.

Surbiton will want to make up for last season's final defeat by regaining the league title on 14 April. Yesterday, it was announced that the Women's Euro Hockey League will be expanded to twelve teams with the top four countries able to enter two teams and the fifth to eighth countries allowed to enter one team. Confirmed allocations will be announced after East Grinstead and Surbiton compete in Europe at Easter.

Hampstead & Westminster are at home to the University of Nottingham in the other Pool A match.  In Pool B, East Grinstead welcome Wimbledon (who finished seventh overall) to Saint Hill, and Bowdon, who qualified for the League Finals in their first season back in the top flight, travel to Reading. The top two teams in each pool qualify for the League Finals weekend at Surbiton HC on 13/14 April. Points are not carried over from the Premier Division regular season.

The remaining four Premier Division teams compete in the relegation playoffs. Isca & University of Exeter have already been relegated, and Beeston could be relegated if they lose to Loughborough Students and the University of Birmingham get at least a point against Isca.

Before the W1 match, W2 will try and clinch the Division One South title at the third attempt. Having gone unbeaten in their first 14 games, Surbiton W2 have lost successive games, 0-3 at home to Sevenoaks and 1-3 at Slough. Fifth-placed Harleston Magpies stand in Surbiton's way at 1345, although if Barnes fail to beat Holcombe, Surbiton W2 will be crowned champions. If Barnes beat Holcombe, then they will clinch promotion to the Premier Division as the second-placed team as Surbiton W2 cannot be promoted as second teams are not permitted in the Premier Division and a clubs cannot have two teams in the same division.

Barnes visit Holcombe at 1400, fifteen minutes after the Surbiton W2 match starts.