Double headers in store for top teams

Nicola White in action for Holcombe. Credit Peter Smith - 450

Title hopefuls East Grinstead and Holcombe play twice this weekend, with the clash between the two on Sunday being the highlight of the programme in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division.

Second-placed East Grinstead host the University of Birmingham on Saturday, while third-placed Holcombe face relegation-threatened Bowdon Hightown. They then face each other on Sunday, in a match which could impact on the play-off hopes of several sides.

“This weekend is massive for us because there’s six points on offer, and when you consider that there are only 18 more points available this season, it’s crucial,” said Jon Rye, Director of Hockey at Holcombe who will be without Shona McCallin and Ellie Watton who are with England in South Africa.

“We have had to manage the girls carefully this week because with two games we need to make sure they’re fit for both, so have trained with a little less intensity this week.

“Every match counts at this stage of the season, and having just broken into the top four we’re determined to stay there.”

Elsewhere, leaders Surbiton travel to Leicester, while Canterbury and Slough will play each other in a match both need to win to boost their hopes of avoiding the relegation play-offs.

And Reading continue their search for a first league win of the season with a home game against Clifton Robinsons on Saturday.

Having drawn with them on the opening day of the season, Buckingham will be hoping to take all the points as they host Swansea City in the Investec Conference West on Saturday.

The second-placed side could pull level with leaders Stourport if they win this game and their rearranged game with bottom of the table Exe on Sunday, depending on how Stourport fare against the Devon team.

In Investec Conference East both leaders Wimbledon and second-placed Sevenoaks face double headers playing games postponed a fortnight ago on the Sunday.

Having secured their first win of the season in the Investec Conference North last weekend with a shock win over third-placed Ben Rhydding, Belper will be aiming for more of the same on Saturday when they go to the University of Durham, who are fourth.

Meanwhile, leaders Brooklands Poynton host Liverpool Sefton and second-placed Beeston entertain Wakefield.

* The above photo shows Holcombe and GB ace Nicola White in action against Clifton Robinsons. Credit: Peter Smith.

FIXTURES – Saturday, February 25

Investec Women’s Hockey League

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

Investec Conference East
Southgate v Harleston Magpies 12:30
St Albans v Cambridge City 13:00
Chelmsford v Wimbledon 14:00
West Herts v Hampstead and Westminster 14:00
Sevenoaks v Northampton Saints 17:00

Investec Conference North
Brooklands Poynton v Liverpool Sefton 11:45
Univ of Durham v Belper 12:00
Timperley v Loughborough Students 12:30
Ben Rhydding v Sutton Coldfield 13:30
Beeston v Wakefield 14:00

Investec Conference West
Isca v Bristol Firebrands 12:00
Oxford Hawks v Trojans 12:00
Buckingham v Swansea City 12:00
Gloucester City v Olton & West Warwicks 12:30
Stourport v Exe 14:30

FIXTURES, Sunday, February 26

Investec Premier Division
East Grinstead v Holcombe 12:30

Investec Conference East
St Albans v Sevenoaks 13:30
Cambridge City v Wimbledon 16:00

Investec Conference West
Exe v Buckingham 12:00
Bristol Firebrands v Olton and West Warwicks 12:30