Howard and Bray Send East Grinstead Top

WHL Premier Division Review – 26 September

East Grinstead are the new leaders of the Women’s Hockey League Premier Division and the only team in the top flight with maximum points after their first two matches, although Hampstead & Westminster, who did not play this weekend, can join them if they beat Loughborough next Saturday. Two goals in the 20th minute from Tess Howard and Sophie Bray and a second goal from Bray seven minutes later earned a 3-0 home win over Beeston and a seventeenth game without defeat.

Opening day leaders, Wimbledon were brought back down to earth and dropped to fifth following their 3-1 defeat at Clifton Robinsons.  Clifton led 3-0 through Megan Crowson (19 mins), Catherine Macaulay (23 mins) and Maria Jones (52 mins) but although Georgie Blackwood scored what proved to be a consolation goal in the 53rd minute, that was the closest Wimbledon came.

Defending champions Surbiton were held to a goalless draw at Loughborough Students, as both teams lost ground to East Grinstead, but are yet to concede a goal this season. Surbiton drew 0-0 for the first time since March 2019 when they were held at home by Slough and Loughborough last drew 0-0 in February 2017 at home to Ben Rhydding in the Conference North. Surbiton last drew 0-0 in an away game at Bowdon Hightown in November 2017.

The fixture between Buckingham and the University of Birmingham has a history of comebacks and this season’s meeting was no exception. In their first game after a bye week, Birmingham led 2-1 after 39 minutes, Becky Manton giving them the lead in the 17th minute with Lauren Hunt restoring the visitors’ lead in the 39th minute after Lauren Thomas had equalised for Buckingham in added time at the end of the first half. Thomas equalised a second time with a penalty corner conversion in the 48th minute, with Emma O’Nien scoring a minute later to seal a 3-2 win for Buckingham.

Swansea are finding life in the Premier Division tough after Holcombe beat them 5-0 in the Welsh club’s first ever home game in the top flight. Holcombe led 2-0 at half time, Eloise Richards scoring in the fifth minute and Lorna Jane Cruickshank doubling the lead in the 26th minute. Agueda Moroni Melgarejo extended Holcombe’s lead in the 43rd minute before Ivanna Pessina and Beth Bingham both converted penalty corners, Pessina in the 49th minute and Bingham in the 59th.

Images: Smifsports

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