Reading and Holcombe prepare for battle

Helen Richardson-Walsh in action for Reading. Credit Simon Parker - 450

AFTER battling for play-off places last season, Reading and Holcombe are both without a win so far in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division, and they face each other this Saturday.

Reading reached the play-offs last season and eventually finished third after beating Clifton at the Finals Weekend, but after four matches of the current season they are bottom of the table with just one point.

“It’s been an interesting start to the year,” said Reading’s new head coach Mike Irving. “I’ve been here for two and a half weeks now, and it has been a bit of a baptism of fire. But we’re seeing improvement already.

“Looking at the match with Holcombe, there have been a lot of changes in both squads over the summer, so last season seems a long time ago. We’ve brought in some great young players and some experienced heads too, and it’s a really tight group of players.

“Getting to know them, the teamwork and camaraderie is excellent and I know that will take us forward.

“Now we need to get as many points on the board as we can before Christmas.”

Elsewhere, leaders the University of Birmingham are on the road to Buckingham, who are also without a win so far this season.

Newly-promoted East Grinstead lie second and will be targeting another win at Bowdon Hightown, while third-placed Surbiton go to Clifton as they bid to remain unbeaten.

And Canterbury, who narrowly lost out to Surbiton last weekend, entertain close rivals Leicester in the day’s other top flight match.

In the Investec Women’s Conference East, the top two face each other with Slough hosting Hampstead and Westminster, while third-placed Cambridge City take on Maidenhead at Perse Girls School.

There is another top of the table clash in the Investec Conference North with leaders Wakefield aiming to maintain their 100 per cent record against Loughborough Students.

After replacing former leaders Sutton Coldfield at the top of the Investec Conference West with a 2-1 win over them last weekend, Swansea City are at home against Oxford Hawks as they bid to hold on to top spot. Meanwhile, Sutton Coldfield go to Trojans.

* The above photo shows Helen Richardson-Walsh in action for Reading. Credit Simon Parker.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, October 10 2015):

Investec Premier Division
Clifton v Surbiton 13:00
Buckingham v Univ of Birmingham 12:00
Bowdon Hightown v East Grinstead 13:45
Reading v Holcombe 16:30
Canterbury v Leicester 17:00

Investec Conference East
Chelmsford v Harleston Magpies 12:00
Cambridge City v Maidenhead 12:30
St Albans v Ipswich 13:00
Slough v Hampstead and Westminster 13:00
Sevenoaks v Wimbledon 17:00

Investec Conference North
Brooklands Poynton v Belper 11:45
Beeston v Springfields 12:00
Liverpool Sefton v Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 12:30
Ben Rhydding v Univ of Durham 13:30
Wakefield v Loughborough Students 13:30

Investec Conference West
Bristol Firebrands v Gloucester City 11:30
Swansea City v Oxford Hawks 12:00
Trojans v Sutton Coldfield 12:00
Olton and West Warwicks v Univ of Bristol 12:00
Stourport v Isca 12:00