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W1 Clinch First Place Premier Division Finish


24th February 2024

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Women beat the University of Nottingham 6-1 on Saturday evening to ensure that they will finish top of the Women's Hockey League Premier Division at the end of Stage 2, with two games to spare.

Surbiton's victory combined with Reading's 2-1 defeat at Hampstead & Westminster restored the eight point gap Surbiton had held before last week's 1-0 defeat at East Grinstead, and with just two games remaining, Surbiton can't now be caught and are assured as a minimum of the second European place in 2025.

The match can be watched back on the Surbiton Hockey Club channel on You Tube here

Wimbledon and Clifton Robinsons also confirmed that they will finish in the top two places of the Lower Six and will join the Top Six teams in the League Finals Pools following the completion of the 16 game Premier Division season.

Surbiton wanted to bounce back from the disappointment of last week's defeat with Sophie Hamilton setting up the first chance for Meg Dowthwaite after just 15 seconds.

Having failed to score last Saturday, Surbiton opened the scoring in the fifth minute thanks to Giselle Ansley's penalty corner conversion, Nottingham goalkeeper Mila Welch beaten after the ball bounced over the goal-line.

Dowthwaite made amends in the 20th minute for her early miss, Amy Costello and Eloise Stenner setting up a scoring chance for Dowthwaite to put away.

Surbiton led 3-0 at half time, Sarah Evans crossing from the right for Alice Wills to lift the ball into the roof of the net in the 28th minute to put Surbiton in a commanding position.

Wills struck again four minutes after half time, this time from a penalty corner. Ansley slipped the ball back to Sophie Hamilton, whose cross from the left was tapped home to complete a well manoeuvred routine.

4-0 was the margin of defeat when the University of Nottingham visited Sugden Road last season, but in the 45th minute, they finally managed to score a goal against Surbiton at the third attempt, having lost 5-0 at home earlier this season. Maddie Stewart scored the historic goal for the Nottingham students.

Surbiton added two further goals in the fourth quarter, Leah Wilkinson in perfect position to convert their third penalty corner in the 55th minute and Martha Taylor scoring from close range with ten minutes remaining to complete Surbiton's second 6-1 home victory of the season following their win over Isca & University of Exeter in September in Stage 1.

The third penalty corner was awarded after Wills was accidentally struck on the head by the ball from close range, Wills leaving the pitch to recover.

Iona Campbell and Esme Burge both scored as Hampstead & Westminster beat Reading 2-1, but although Jo Pinner pulled a goal back just before half time, it wasn't enough.

East Grinstead moved up into second ahead of Reading on goal difference following their convincing 5-0 win at Bowdon. Pippa Lock's brace gave the West Sussex club a 2-0 half time lead with Lily Walker, Ellie Rayer and Tess Howard all scoring in the second half.

Wimbledon won 3-0 at Beeston to book their place in the League Finals. Nicole Bowen, Olivia Chilton and Fiona Crackles all scored at Nottingham Hockey Centre.

Coca Hall gave the University of Birmingham the lead against Clifton Robinsons, but the Bristol based club fought back to win 2-1 with goals from Holly Munro and Sarah-Jayne Thorburn.

Bottom club Isca & University of Exeter scored three goals, but Loughborough Students scored four to take the three points back to Leicestershire. Becca Malyon opened the scoring for Loughborough before Cara Henshall and Georgie Gardens turned the match round for Isca. Malyon levelled before Jess Dyson and Ellie Mackenzie gave Loughborough a 4-2 lead, Saskia Lawrence pulling one goal back in the penultimate minute.

Next Saturday, Surbiton host Bowdon at Sugden Road, push back 4.30 pm. When the teams met in November, Surbiton won 7-1.