Play-off battle goes to the wire

Aileen Davis scores for Clifton Robinsons. Credit Peter Smith - 450

Leicester and Clifton Robinsons gave themselves a fighting chance of making the play offs after picking up important wins in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division on Saturday.

Leicester are just a point off the top four after a good 5-1 win which condemns Bowdon Hightown to relegation play offs.

Elizabeth Honarmand gave Leicester the lead after just three minutes and a Liz George brace - along with goals from Kim Leiper and Holly Payne - wrapped up the three points. Sian French scored the consolation for Bowdon.

Clifton Robinsons are also a point outside of the top four but gave their hopes a shot in the arm with a 2-0 win over Slough, Aileen Davis and Hannah Coulson finding the target.

East Grinstead missed the chance to guarantee a play-off berth after being held to a 0-0 draw at home to Canterbury.

Reading had their relegation confirmed with a 1-0 defeat in a batting effort against top of the table Surbiton. Robyn Collins scored the only goal of the game after three minutes.

The University of Birmingham need to win their last game to ensure they go to the play offs after losing 3-1 to Holcombe. Emily Maguire and Florencia Zappulla put Holcombe two goals up inside half an hour but Erica Sanders pulled one back for the home side.

Holcombe continued to search for a third and finally made the breakthrough in the closing minutes of the game through Lucy Wood.

Investec Women's Conference East

Crista Cullen scored twice as Wimbledon beat Hampstead and Westminster 2-1 in their race to lift the Investec Women’s Conference East title.

Sevenoaks kept the pressure on with a 3-0 defeat of Harleston Magpies but Wimbledon still lead the table by three points going in the final game of the season.

They will play Northampton Saints on the final day who had relegation confirmed after going down 4-0 to St Albans. Kirsty Barber led the scoring with a brace.

West Herts will face relegation play-offs and lost 6-0 to Cambridge City with Megan Beard, Vanessa Sharman and Heidi Barber scoring two each. In the other game of the day, Chelmsford beat Southgate 3-0.

Investec Women's Conference North

The Investec Women’s Conference North title will be decided on the final day of the campaign after Beeston beat Brooklands Poynton 4-2 as the top two clashed.

Although Brooklands still lead the table by a point, they are now equal on goal difference after a Rosy Stephens double helped Beeston to a vital win.

Three teams are still threatened with relegation and Liverpool Sefton’s worries deepened with a 5-1 loss to Loughborough Students.

Timperley took an important point against third-placed University of Durham in a 1-1 draw and Belper kept their survival hopes alive with their third win of the season, a 4-3 defeat of Sutton Coldfield.

Ben Rhydding drew 1-1 with Wakefield in the other game.

Investec Women's Conference West

Buckingham sealed the Investec Conference West title with a stunning 5-0 win over Oxford Hawks.

They had the perfect start with Abbie Brant tucking home inside six minutes and they went on to take a 3-0 lead by the break. They scored two more in the second half with Brant scoring her second.

The title race could have gone to the wire, but Stourport were held to a 1-1 draw by Gloucester City.

Exe will have to face relegation play offs at the very least after drawing 2-2 with Isca. They are four points adrift of Oxford whilst Bristol Firebrands, who are bottom, are four points behind them with a game in hand.

Swansea City took a 3-1 win over Olton and West Warwicks.

* The above photograph shows Aileen Davis celebrating her goal for Clifton Robinsons. Credit: Peter Smith.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, March 18, 2017):

Investec Women's Premier Division: University of Birmingham 1, Holcombe 3; Clifton Robinsons 2, Slough 0; Leicester 5, Bowdon Hightown 1; East Grinstead 0, Canterbury 0; Reading 0, Surbiton 1.

Investec Women's Conference East: Sevenoaks 3, Harleston Magpies 0; St Albans 4, Northampton 0; West Herts 0, Cambridge City 6; Wimbledon 2, Hampstead and Westminster 1; Chelmsford 3, Southgate 1.

Investec Women's Conference North: Belper 4, Sutton Coldfield 3; Loughborough Students 5, Liverpool Sefton 1; Timperley 1, University of Durham 1; Ben Rhydding 1, Wakefield 1; Beeston 4, Brooklands Poynton 2.

Investec Women's Conference West: Swansea City 3, Olton and West Warwickshire 1; Gloucester City 1, Stourport 1; Oxford Hawks 0, Buckingham 5; Exe 2, Isca 2.