Leicester tester for leaders Canterbury

Canterbury's Susie Rowe challenges Bowdon's Holly Hunt, Feb 8 2014 - 450

AFTER battling to a hard-fought one-nil win over Beeston last weekend, leaders Canterbury take on rivals Leicester in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division on Saturday.

Strong defence has been a key part of Canterbury’s game so far this season - they have not lost in the outdoor league since October, and conceded just six goals in their last nine matches.

With clean sheets in their last three games, they will be looking to keep Leicester at bay and maintain their four-point lead at the top of the table.

“Our defence has been our real strength throughout the season,” said Canterbury player-coach Jen Wilson. “It’s a massive plus to get clean sheets, and it was pleasing to see last weekend that our keeper didn’t have to make a single save which is testament to the players in front of her.

“Whenever we play Leicester we know we’re always in for a tough battle because they’re a quality team, so we’re taking nothing for granted.”

Meanwhile, second-placed Reading head to Sutton Coldfield in search of a win to keep the pressure on Canterbury, while Surbiton could overtake Reading if they take the points at University of Birmingham.

Elsewhere, Bowdon Hightown will want to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to University of Birmingham when they go to Clifton. Victory at Coombe Lane could see them leapfrog the Bristol side into the top four.

In what could be a title decider, leaders Slough play host to second-placed Buckingham in the Investec Conference West on Saturday. Just two points separate the rivals, while Buckingham will want revenge for a 1-0 defeat they suffered at Stowe School last October.

Buckingham then play their re-arranged match against Oxford Hawks 24 hours later.

Leaders Holcombe – who have scored almost twice as many goals as anyone else in the Investec Conference East – play host to Horsham on Saturday, while second-placed East Grinstead will be aiming to bounce back from last weekend’s home defeat to St Albans when they go to Wimbledon.

And in the Investec Conference North, leaders Brooklands host bottom of the table Doncaster, while second-placed Wakefield will be looking to stay in touch when they entertain Kendal.

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, March 1 2014)

Investec Premier Division
Beeston v Olton and West Warwickshire 12:00
Canterbury v Leicester 17:00
Clifton v Bowdon Hightown 13:00
Sutton Coldfield v Reading 14:30
University of Birmingham v Surbiton 12:30

Investec Conference East
Harleston Magpies v Sevenoaks 14:15
Holcombe v Horsham 16:00
Ipswich v Chelmsford 14:00
St Albans v Old Loughtonians 13:00
Wimbledon v East Grinstead 14:00

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

Investec Conference West
Barnes v Isca 12:00
Exe v Trojans 13:00
Gloucester City v Oxford Hawks 12:00
Slough v Buckingham 13:00
Swansea v Bristol Firebrands 12:00

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Sunday, March 2 2014)

Investec Conference West
Buckingham v Oxford Hawks 11:30