EG face Holcombe as play-off push heats up

East Grinstead's Emily Thorpe has a shot on goal but it is saved by a diving Sarah Ellis. Credit RSK Ghowry - 450


Rivals East Grinstead and Holcombe are preparing for battle in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division, as the push for a play-off spot heats up.

The pair are level on 18 points alongside Clifton, and with five matches left it looks like it will be a close fight to make it into the top four.

“It’s a classic six-pointer!” said East Grinstead coach Mary Booth of Saturday afternoon’s game.

“Holcombe are a very fit team and we have a lot of injuries. But if we can weather the storm and hold them for the first ten minutes we will settle in to it and who knows what can happen?

“We’re the new girls in the league this season and have probably flattered to deceive. We don’t feel under pressure because our aim this season was to stay up and learn from the experience, so all the pressure is on Holcombe for this match.”

Elsewhere, the battle for top spot has seen Surbiton and the University of Birmingham swap places twice in the last two weeks. The University of Birmingham heading to Clifton on Saturday, and could extend their lead to four points as Surbiton are without a game due to Bowdon Hightown’s participation in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Trophy.

Leicester Grammar School is the venue for a crucial match between Leicester and Buckingham. Bottom of the table Buckingham are desperate for points to avoid the drop, while Leicester could also get drawn in to the relegation scrap, but could also make a late push for the fourth play-off spot.

Finally, on Sunday Reading will host Canterbury and will be looking to avenge the 5-0 defeat they suffered at Polo Farm in September.

Slough’s defeat of St Albans last weekend puts them nine points clear at the top of Investec Conference East and looking like they only need two wins from the remaining five games to secure the title. They entertain Sevenoaks on Saturday. At the other end of the table bottom club Ipswich will surely need to beat ninth placed Maidenhead to retain any chance of avoiding relegation.

In the Investec Conference North, Whitley Bay and Tynemouth climbed off the bottom with a win over Springfields last weekend, and they could climb further if they beat hosts Beeston on Saturday.

Meanwhile, leaders Wakefield go to Loughborough Students, while second-placed Brooklands Poynton head to the UCLan Sports Arena in Preston, the home of Springfields.

And leaders Sutton Coldfield have a home game against Trojans in the Investec Conference North, while Stourport could go top if they beat visitors University of Bristol and Sutton Coldfield lose.

* The above photo shows East Grinstead's Emily Thorpe shooting at goal. Credit RSK Ghowry.

FIXTURES – Saturday, February 20

Investec Women’s Hockey League

Investec Premier Division
Clifton v University of Birmingham 13:00
East Grinstead v Holcombe 13:30
Leicester v Buckingham 14:00

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

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

Investec Conference West
Swansea City v Isca 12:00
Oxford Hawks v Gloucester City 12:00
Olton and West Warwicks v Bristol Firebrands 12:00
Sutton Coldfield v Trojans 14:00
Stourport v University of Bristol 18:00

FIXTURES – Sunday, February 21

Investec Women’s Hockey League

Investec Premier Division
Reading v Canterbury 12:30

League Finals weekend now on sale

The next big event in the club calendar is the League Finals Weekend on the 16th and 17th April – this year the Men’s and Investec Women’s Hockey Leagues Finals and playoffs are combined into one action-packed weekend at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre so drama is guaranteed!

League Finals Weekend tickets are on sale now www.englandhockey.co.uk/tickets. Knockout Finals tickets will also go on sale soon on this page.