Brant brace helps Buckingham reach play-offs

Univ of Birmingham's Lydia Macdonnell and Slough's Leanne King. Credit Andrew Smith - 480x320
Two goals from Abbie Brant helped Buckingham snatch the final play-off berth in their last game of the regular season after a 3-1 win over Bowdon Hightown in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division on Sunday.

Buckingham will join Surbiton, Holcombe and East Grinstead at the Finals Weekend at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on 28-29 April.

The University of Birmingham began the day fourth but could only manage a goalless draw against Slough - their fifth game without a win.

Buckingham turned their fortunes around with a third consecutive win but they had to come from behind after Tara Melvin gave Bowdon the lead after 25 minutes.

Brant netted her first just eight minutes later from a penalty corner and, with time running out, Lauren Thomas put Buckingham ahead on 65 minutes before Brant sealed the deal with a last-minute strike.

At the other end of the table Leicester were relegated after drawing 2-2 with fellow strugglers Clifton Robinsons.

Isabel Palmer and Nicola Moss scored the goals to earn the draw for Clifton, a point that ensures their safety.

Leicester scored through Olivia Back and Katie Long but only a win would have been enough to save them from the drop.

The result also means that it was Slough who finished ninth in the table, meaning they will take part in the League Play-Offs alongside the Conference winners - Stourport, Hampstead & Westminster and Beeston - to determine whether they will stay in the top flight next year.

Elsewhere Canterbury beat Holcombe 5-0 on Sunday with a double from Penny Squibb and goals from Sarah Kerly, Mary Flint and Nicki Ball, a result which saw them climb to sixth having lost just once in their final 11 games of the season.

Investec Women’s Conference East
Hampstead & Westminster were crowned champions of the Investec Conference East after beating fellow promotion hopefuls Sevenoaks 2-1 and securing top spot with a game still to play.

Meg Byas opened the scoring on 14 minutes and Melanie Wilkinson made it two just before the break. Jess Denniff pulled one back for Sevenoaks but it wasn’t enough.

Relegated Chelmsford’s last game of the season was a heavy 9-0 defeat at the hands of St Albans with Kirsty Barber and Nakira Downes scoring two each.

A Lauren Rowe brace condemned Southgate to relegation play-offs as her Harleston Magpies side won 2-1.

Cambridge City drew 0-0 with Barnes and Lizzie Jones scored twice in Wimbledon’s 3-2 win over Bedford.

Investec Women’s Conference West
Stourport are champions of the Investec Conference West after a 5-1 defeat of Team Bath Buccaneers – a result that sees Team Bath relegated. Lora Symonds and Sarah Parkinson-Mills did most of the damage with two goals each.

Reading missed out on the title by a point despite a 5-0 win against second-bottom Cannock. Sophie Shakespeare scored a hat-trick including two goals in the space of a minute. Cannock will have to go to relegation play-offs to decide their fate.

A Sally Walton goal was enough to see Olton & West Warwicks to a 1-0 win against Oxford Hawks.

Investec Women’s Conference North
Liverpool Sefton were relegated from the Investec Conference North after slipping to a 4-2 defeat at Loughborough Students in their final game of the season.

A win would have seen them face relegation play-offs but the defeat means that two goals from Beth Pears and others from Lizzie Neal and Annabel Sams saw Loughborough take the win.

Wakefield will go to relegation play-offs after finishing second from bottom. They lost 2-0 to Brooklands-Poynton. In the other game of the day, the University of Durham beat Sutton Coldfield 4-0.

* The above photo shows the University of Birmingham's Lydia Macdonnell and Slough's Leanne King. Credit Andrew Smith.

* Full results, tables and fixtures from the Investec Women’s Hockey League are available here.