Top two prepare for battle in Investec Premier Division

Surbiton's Sarah Haycroft. Credit Tim Reder - 450

Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division leaders Surbiton head to rivals East Grinstead as the outdoor season resumes after the Winter break.

Both second-placed East Grinstead and Surbiton are unbeaten in the league so far, and both will be aiming to get the better of the other following a 1-1 draw back in October when they last met.

But with East Grinstead preparing to represent England in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy in Lithuania in two weeks - and having a few key players out injured – their preparations for the resumption of the outdoor programme have been somewhat hampered.

“It’s a difficult start to the second half of the season for us,” said East Grinstead Team Manager Tony Crisp. “We’re preparing for the Europeans, the bad weather has hampered our training, and we’ve got Laura Unsworth [ankle] and Takara Haines [foot] out injured.

“But we’ve still got the nucleus of our team ready to go, and we will be going to take all three points and go top of the table.”

Elsewhere, Kent rivals Holcombe and Canterbury do battle in a double-header with their men’s teams on Saturday.

Hosts Holcombe will be keen to take the points and maintain third spot in the table, while Canterbury will be equally determined to secure a win and boost their hopes of scraping into the top four and claiming a place at the Finals Weekend.

Clifton Robinsons are currently fourth and travel to Bowdon Hightown, while the weekend’s other top flight action sees the University of Birmingham in action at home against Slough, and bottom of the table Reading go to Leicester in search of their first league win.

Wimbledon head to West Herts in the Investec Conference East on Saturday, and will be aiming to notch up their eighth straight victory. Meanwhile, former leaders Sevenoaks – who lost top spot to Wimbledon in their clash in November – will be out to take back the lead.

Elsewhere, third-placed Harleston Magpies go to bottom of the table Northampton Saints as they bid to keep pace with the top two.

Brooklands Poynton went to the top of the Investec Conference North table after winning their rearranged fixture against Sutton Coldfield a fortnight ago, and they will be looking to take another win as they host bottom of the table Belper this Saturday.

Meanwhile second-placed Beeston go to strugglers Timperley, and third-placed University of Durham are at home against a Wakefield side who they drew with earlier in the season.

It’s tight at the top of the Investec Conference West table, with leaders Buckingham ahead of Stourport on goal difference only. Isca host Buckingham on Saturday, while Stourport go to Trojans.

* The above photo shows Surbiton’s Sarah Haycroft. Credit: Tim Reder.

FIXTURES – Saturday, February 4

Investec Women’s Hockey League

Investec Premier Division
Univ of Birmingham v Slough 12:30
East Grinstead v Surbiton 13:30
Bowdon Hightown v Clifton Robinsons 13:45
Leicester v Reading 14:00
Holcombe v Canterbury 16:00

Investec Conference East
Hampstead and Westminster v Chelmsford 13:30
Southgate v St Albans 14:00
West Herts v Wimbledon 14:00
Northampton Saints v Harleston Magpies 14:15
Sevenoaks v Cambridge City 17:00

Investec Conference North
Brooklands Poynton v Belper 12:00
Univ of Durham v Wakefield 12:00
Timperley v Beeston 12:30
Sutton Coldfield v Loughborough Students 14:00
Ben Rhydding v Liverpool Sefton 14:00

Investec Conference West
Swansea City v Exe 12:00
Gloucester City v Bristol Firebrands 12:00
Trojans v Stourport 12:00
Olton and West Warwicks v Oxford Hawks 12:00
Isca v Buckingham 12:00