Holcombe target play-off spot

Holcombe's Lucy Wood in action. Credit Andy Smith - 450

Holcombe play host to third-placed University of Birmingham on Saturday, as their bid to book a spot at the League Finals Weekend reaches a thrilling conclusion.

Currently occupying the crucial fourth-placed berth, Holcombe could be overtaken by the two teams below them in the final two matches, so will want to take a win this weekend and ease the pressure.

And for the University of Birmingham, they will want to beat Holcombe and end a run of two league matches without a win which has seen them drop off the top of the table to third.

“It’s an important time for everybody at the tail end of the season, not just for us,” said Holcombe captain Leigh Maasdorp. “This is a game we’re looking forward to.

“Our form has been a bit up and down all season, but we’ve won the last two so we’re looking forward to getting a win and wrapping up our place in the play-offs.

“We will be without our Great Britain player Sarah Robertson who got injured last weekend, but most teams have injuries at this time of the year and I know Birmingham are in the same boat.”

Elsewhere in the top flight, last season’s champions Surbiton could wrap up top spot in the table if they win at Reading. But on the other side of the coin, Reading are desperate for the points to avoid the threat of the relegation play-offs.

East Grinstead could leapfrog Holcombe into fourth spot and into pole position for the final place at the League Finals Weekend, if they win at Canterbury. However, second-placed Canterbury will be no pushover, having lost just once in the league so far this season.

It’s the last throw of the dice for bottom of the table Buckingham, who must beat ninth-placed Bowdon Hightown away if they are to avoid automatic relegation.

Finally Clifton host Leicester, who could still sneak the final play-off spot if other results go their way.

In the Investec Women’s Conference North, it is a four-team race for the title and a place in the promotion play-offs. Wakefield are in the driving seat, top and two points clear, and they entertain Whitley Bay and Tynemouth who are desperate to avoid the relegation dogfight.

Brooklands Poynton are second and they head to third-placed Ben Rhydding. And fourth-placed Beeston host the University of Durham.

It will take some big scores for Sutton Coldfield to lose out on the title in the Investec Women’s Conference West, and they could make sure of first place this Saturday when they go to Swansea City.

At the other end of the table Bristol Firebrands go to Gloucester City as they aim to step away from relegation danger, while Olton and West Warwickshire host Trojans with both teams wanting to avoid the drop.

And in the Investec Women’s Conference East, Maidenhead face a tough battle against Conference winners Slough as they bid to avoid relegation.

* The above photo shows Holcombe’s Lucy Wood in action. Credit: Andy Smith

FIXTURES – Saturday, March 12

Investec Women’s Hockey League

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

Investec Conference East
Cambridge City v Chelmsford 12:30
St Albans v Sevenoaks 13:00
Slough v Maidenhead 13:00
Wimbledon v Harleston Magpies 14:00
Ipswich v Hampstead and Westminster 18:00

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

Investec Conference West
Swansea City v Sutton Coldfield 12:00
Gloucester City v Bristol Firebrands 12:00
Olton and West Warwicks v Trojans 12:00
Isca v University of Bristol 12:30
Stourport v Oxford Hawks 18:00

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.

Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy to be hosted by England Hockey

England Hockey has just announced that it will be hosting the men’s Hockey Champions Trophy this June. Read more about it here. Tickets for the event go on sale on Tuesday 15 March at www.englandhockey.co.uk or www.greatbritainhockey.co.uk