East Grinstead resumed where they left off last year as they won their opening game of the 2021/22 Vitality Women’s Premier Division.
The team from West Sussex were sitting top of the league – having won five games and drawn one – when last year’s campaign was curtailed due to Covid-19 and they carried on that fine form as they beat Loughborough Students 4-1.
Sophie Bray found the net twice for East Grinstead to give them a two goal advantage heading into half-time before Autumn Bowden and Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallist Ellie Rayer got their names on the scoresheet in the third quarter.
Lorna Mackenzie pulled one back for Loughborough with four minutes remaining to add a slight blemish onto what was an otherwise perfect start for East Grinstead.
Two more Olympic medallists started the domestic season in fine style as Sarah Robertson and Sarah Jones scored for Hampstead & Westminster and Wimbledon respectively in their London derby.
Robertson’s strike game Hampstead the lead in the eighth minute before Jones levelled proceedings five minutes later. Lauren Turner then put a Hampstead side also boasting Grace Balsdon back into the lead before Esme Burge scored to give the team a 3-1 victory over a Wimbledon team that included fellow Olympian Fiona Crackles.
Beeston also picked up three points in their opening game as they came from behind to beat Holcombe 2-1 at the Nottingham Hockey Centre.
Holcombe took the lead early on courtesy of a field goal from Candice Manuel before Nadia Benallal levelled proceedings shortly after. A closely fought affair ensued before Beeston took victory with less than two minutes remaining as new signing Lucy Millington capped off her debut for the club in fine style by dispatching a penalty stroke.
Seven-time champions Surbiton were held to a 2-2 draw by Clifton Robinsons in an absorbing game at Coombe Dingle.
After a slightly delayed start due to traffic on the M4, Alice Wills opened the scoring for Surbiton in the sixth minute before Catherine Macauley equalised for the hosts early into the second quarter.
Macauley was then on target again shortly before half-time to hand Clifton the lead going into the break, only for Eloise Stenner to equalise for Surbiton just a few minutes into the second half.
The day’s other game saw Buckingham and Swansea play out a 1-1 draw in the Welsh city.
Jessica Roe handed Swansea – who are competing in their first full Premier Division season following last year's cancellation – the lead in the 11th minute before Natasha James equalised in the second half to ensure the points were shared.
Results – Weekend 1
- Beeston 2-1 Holcombe
- Clifton Robinsons 2-2 Surbiton
- East Grinstead 4-1 Loughborough Students
- Swansea 1-1 Buckingham
- Wimbledon 1-3 Hampstead & Westminster