Top two clash in Investec Women's Premier Division

Univ of Birmingham's Joey Turnbull and Hannah Martin celebrate a goal v Beeston. Credit Andy Smith - 450

In what could prove to be a crucial match for both sides’ title ambitions, leaders the University of Birmingham take on second-placed Surbiton in the Investec Women’s Premier Division on Saturday.

Just two points separate the two sides, meaning the winner of the clash at Edgbaston will be top of the table next week.

They drew 1-1 when they last played in the outdoor league back in November, with Lily Owsley giving the students the lead mid-way through the second half only for Jo Hunter to pull Surbiton level nine minutes from the end.

“It’s a massive game, and it does feel a bit like Round Two!” said University of Birmingham Head Coach Phil Gooderham. “We will be without Lily Owsley on GB duty and Emily Defroand is a bit of a doubt, but Surbiton will be missing more players than us.

“Being top of the table is a different feeling for us having never been there before, but we’ve just focused on continuing the work we started in the first half of the season. The goal at the start of the season was to reach the play-offs, and that hasn’t changed.”

Following their victory in the Super6s Championship last weekend, East Grinstead will be aiming to keep up their good form when they play host to Clifton, the side who they leap-frogged in the last matches before the Winter break.

Third-placed Canterbury head to Bowdon Hightown as they bid to keep pace with the top two, while Bowdon will be desperate for points to boost their survival hopes.

Holcombe dropped out of the top four following their defeat to Surbiton in the last set of matches, and they are at home against Leicester this Saturday.

And Reading are preparing to face bottom club Buckingham in the day’s other top-flight match.

Hampstead and Westminster head to Cambridge City in the Investec Conference East. They lie second, and need to string together a run of results to close the eight-point gap to leaders Slough who also have an away match, at Harleston Magpies.

In the Investec Conference North, Brooklands Poynton leap-frogged the University of Durham into second spot in the last set of matches on November. And the two sides are due to meet this Saturday at Georges Road. Elsewhere, leaders Wakefield head to Springfield.

Stourport host Swansea City in the Investec Conference West, with both sides targeting top spot in the league, assuming leaders Sutton Coldfield don’t get a result at Bristol Firebrands.

* The above photo shows the University of Birmingham's Joey Turnbull and Hannah Martin celebrating a goal against Beeston. Credit Andy Smith.

FIXTURES – Saturday, February 6

Investec Women’s Hockey League

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

Investec Conference East
Cambridge City v Hampstead and Westminster 12:30
Maidenhead v Sevenoaks 13:30
Wimbledon v Chelmsford 14:00
Harleston Magpies v Slough 14:00
Ipswich v St Albans 14:00

Investec Conference North
Brooklands Poynton v Univ of Durham 11:45
Belper v Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 12:00
Beeston v Liverpool Sefton 12:00
Ben Rhydding v Loughborough Students 13:30
Springfields v Wakefield 14:00

Investec Conference West
Oxford Hawks v Olton and West Warwicks 12:00
Bristol Firebrands v Sutton Coldfield 12:00
Isca v Trojans 12:30
Univ of Bristol v Gloucester City 13:00
Stourport v Swansea City 14:30