Bowdon Hightown, members of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division for 31 seasons, were relegated to Division One after a 2-0 home defeat to relegation rivals the University of Birmingham.
Penalty corner goals from Rosie Henderson in the 32nd minute and Lauren Hunt in added on time at the end of the match, ensured that Bowdon would be the last founder members of the league to be relegated from the top tier.
Birmingham’s victory lifted them up to sixth as the top team of four teams on 17 points, battling to avoid ninth place and the threat of relegation if they lose to the loser of the Division One North and Division One South playoff over two legs.
Beeston moved up to fifth on 18 points with a 1-0 win at Buckingham, Courtney Schonell scoring the only goal in the 24th minute.
Holcombe and Clifton Robinsons are also caught up in the log jam after drawing 1-1. Phoebe Richards put Clifton ahead in the 14th minute but Alice Wills equalised for Holcombe on the half hour mark.
Loughborough Students dropped from fifth to ninth after East Grinstead avenged their 5-1 home defeat earlier in the season with a 6-0 win at Loughborough. Sophie Bray, the division’s leading goalscorer collected another hat-trick with goals in the 3rd, 20th and 69th minutes. Ellie Rayer gave East Grinstead a 3-0 half time advantage, scoring in the 32nd minute. Cathy Nicholson struck in the 49th minute and Tess Howard added to Loughborough’s misery in the 57th minute with the last four goals all coming from penalty corners. East Grinstead have now won their last six matches and are now unbeaten in 13 games since they lost their first three league games of the season, their last defeat 2-1 at Surbiton in September and Bray is now on 21 goals.
East Grinstead moved into second place ahead of Hampstead & Westminster after Hampstead lost their second successive league match, 3-2 at home to regular season league champions, Surbiton. Hannah Martin scored in the second minute and Eloise Stenner doubled the visitors’ lead in the fifth minute but Hampstead fought back to level through Fran Tew (30 mins) and Melanie Wilkinson (43 mins). Georgie Twigg scored the winner from a penalty corner in the 52nd minute.