Investec Women's Promotion Playoffs set to begin

Slough's Charly Brydon in action

The first round of matches in the Investec Women’s Promotion Playoffs are set to take place this Sunday at Cannock Hockey Club.

The winners of each of the conferences as well as the 9th place team in the Premier division will battle it out in a mini-league format with the two sides finishing first and second competing in the premier division next season whilst the other two sides will play in the conferences.

In the first of these games, Slough, winners of the West Conference will take on Wakefield, who won the North Conference.

Both sides have had terrific seasons, losing just once apiece in the league and winning their divisions by 11 points (Wakefield) and eight points (Slough.) The North Champions have scored plenty of goals along the way, netting 64 times in 18 games. Great Britain star Sally Walton has bagged 18 of those, ably assisted by Cat Horn, who has ten. Slough have scored fewer goals than their rivals, with 45, but have shared their goals around with top scorer Jess Brooker on eight, closely followed by Amy Sheehan on seven and the in-form Charly Brydon on six. In what should be close-fought battle, Slough will be grateful to call upon the international class of Scotland and Great Britain goalkeeper Amy Gibson as well as England’s Shona McCallin. With Wakefield a free-scoring outfit and Slough conceding just ten goals, the lowest of the playoff contenders, this could prove to be an absorbing battle.

Buckingham delight in the playoffs

The other match pits Buckingham, the 9th placed team in the Premier Division, against East Grinstead, winners of the East Conference.

Buckingham have competed well in the Premier Division and will feel hard done by to have found themselves back in the playoffs once again for a sixth year running. Alexandra Naughalty and Jessica Bloom are their top scorers with four each whilst England and Great Britain defender Zoe Shipperley has chipped in with three strikes. Although they have struggled at times this season, they have still mustered three wins in the league, including the prize scalp of Kent side Holcombe. They will be hoping their experience of playing in the Premier Division, plus their playoff experiences of the past will stand them in good stead as they aim to beat the drop.

East Grinstead have been in fine form, going the whole season unbeaten until finally succumbing on the last day of the campaign when the title was assured. They have married a solid defence (only 15 goals conceded) with a potent attack (55 goals scored) and in 15-goal Sophie Bray; they have one of the country’s most exciting talents. With GB goalkeeper Kirsty Mackay keeping things strong at the back, the Sussex side will fancy themselves to join their men’s team in the top flight next season.

For full details of the schedule of games this weekend, click here.

The deciding two rounds of games will take place at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of Investec Women’s Finals weekend on 18-19 April. For all ticketing information, including how you can make money for your club by purchasing, click here.