Leicester and Clifton in battle for play-off spot

Leicester Katie Long v Surbiton 450

HAVING beaten former leaders Surbiton last weekend, Leicester play host to Clifton in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division this Saturday, with a place in the play-off positions up for grabs.

Currently occupying fourth spot, Leicester knocked Surbiton off the top of the table when they beat them 2-0 last weekend, and will be aiming to make it five wins in six outdoor matches when they take on Clifton at Leicester Grammar School.

“We’re feeling pretty positive at the moment,” said Leicester’s team manager Sue Holwell. “We’ve had one or two long term injuries and players unavailable, and we will be missing some for this weekend, but we’re confident we can still get a result.

“Our target all along has been to reach the play-offs, and we’re on track. We’re playing in Europe in June, so we want to extend the league season into April with the play-offs.”

Elsewhere, new leaders Canterbury take on Beeston at Polo Farm, and will be looking for revenge after the Nottinghamshire side’s 3-1 win earlier in the season.

That was Canterbury’s one and only outdoor league defeat so far this season, and they will be aiming to make the most of their game in hand over second-placed Reading with a win which could put them four points clear.

Bowdon Hightown could move into the play-off positions if they beat University of Birmingham, while bottom of the table Olton and West Warwickshire play second bottom Sutton Coldfield in a match neither side can afford to lose in their battle against relegation.

In the Investec Conference East second-placed East Grinstead hosts third-placed St Albans in a match which is crucial to both side’s promotion ambitions. Meanwhile, leaders Holcombe go to Sevenoaks.

New leaders in the Investec Conference North, Brooklands Poynton go to Ben Rhydding on Saturday, while Wakefield will be trying to take back top spot when they host Stourport.

And in the Investec Conference West, Slough go to Bristol Firebrands as they bid to maintain top spot. Former leaders Buckingham – who only lost the lead after their match against Oxford was postponed last weekend – host bottom of the table Exe.

League Finals Weekend

The winners of the Investec Women’s Hockey League and the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League will be crowned over two action-packed weekends at Reading Hockey Club in April. The top four Premier Division teams qualify for their respective finals weekends, laying off against each other to be crowned league champions.

The men’s finals will take place on the 5-6 April while the women will battle it out a week later from 12-13 April. Tickets are now available to purchase for both weekends, please visit www.englandhockey.co.uk/tickets

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, February 22 2014)

Investec Premier Division
Bowdon Hightown v University of Birmingham 13:45
Canterbury v Beeston 17:00
Leicester v Clifton 14:00
Olton & West Warwicks Ladies v Sutton Coldfield 12:00

Investec Conference East
Chelmsford v Harleston Magpies 14:00
East Grinstead v St. Albans 13:30
Horsham v Old Loughtonians 13:30
Ipswich v Wimbledon 14:00
Sevenoaks v Holcombe 17:00

Investec Conference North
Ben Rhydding v Brooklands Poynton 14:00
Boots v University of Durham 12:30
Doncaster v Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 12:00
Kendal v Loughborough Students 12:30
Wakefield v Stourport 13:30

Investec Conference West
Bristol Firebrands v Slough 12:00
Buckingham v Exe 12:00
Isca v Gloucester City 12:30
Oxford Hawks v Swansea City 12:00
Trojans v Barnes 12:00