Surbiton Regain Lead in Vitality Premier Division

Vitality Women’s Hockey League Premier Division Review – 12 February 2022

Surbiton became the third team to lead the Premier Division in as many weeks, in spite of being held to a 1-1 home draw by Beeston. Maddie Long put Surbiton ahead from open play in the eleventh minute, but Beeston, who had come close to holding East Grinstead to a draw before conceding a late penalty stroke seven days earlier, avoided defeat for only the second time at Sugden Road after Cerys Miller equalised from a 34th minute penalty corner.

East Grinstead, who had taken over the leadership from Hampstead & Westminster last week due to the combination of their victory at Beeston and Hampstead & Westminster’s defeat to Wimbledon, were also beaten by Wimbledon as the South West London club avenged a 2-1 defeat at Saint Hill in Phase One. Kate Maxey’s fifth minute penalty corner and open play goals from Fiona Burnet in the 41st minute and Sarah Jones in the 59th minute earned a 3-0 win in West Sussex, Wimbledon closing the gap to two points behind the top two teams.

East Grinstead’s loss saw them drop to third, as Hampstead & Westminster missed the chance to return to the top of the table after a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Clifton Robinsons. Clifton led 2-1 at half time, Megan Crowson’s 22nd minute penalty corner and Livvy Hoskins’ 27th minute open play effort giving the Bristol club a 2-0 lead before Lucy Hyams reduced the deficit from open play on the half-hour mark.

Lauren Turner brought Hampstead level from open play three minutes into the second half, but Crowson restored Clifton’s lead in the 50th minute, also from open play. Hampstead snatched a point with just three minutes to play, Melanie Wilkinson’s open play goal earning only Hampstead’s second ever top flight draw, the first coming also at Paddington Recreation Ground on 12 October 2019 when they drew 4-4 with East Grinstead.

Surbiton lead Hampstead & Westminster on goal difference on 28 points with East Grinstead on 27 and Wimbledon on 26.

The Bottom 5 section got underway, although Loughborough Students will have to wait an extra week. Buckingham’s hopes of avoiding relegation suffered a blow as they lost their seventh league game in a row, 3-1 at home to the University of Birmingham. Buckingham had lost 2-1 in the Second City when the teams met in the last game of Phase One in December, and as in that match went 2-0 down as Becky Manton scored from open play in the 24th and 46th minutes. Lauren Thomas pulled a goal back for Buckingham, only for Manton to complete her hat-trick two minutes from time.

Swansea remain seven points from safety after ending a run of nine successive defeats with their second 1-1 home draw of the season. On the opening day of the season, Buckingham had returned from South Wales with a point, this time it was Holcombe’s turn, Leisa Randall giving the Kent club a 1-0 the lead, two minutes before half time before Beth Wood levelled in the 55th minute, both goals coming from open play.

The University of Birmingham are seventh on 13 points, three ahead of Loughborough, who now have a game in hand in eighth, Holcombe are on nine points, Buckingham on six and Swansea on two.

2Hampstead & Westminster129123017132852
3East Grinstead129033516192751
6Clifton Robinsons123451928-91337
Vitality Women’s Premier League Top 6

1University of Birmingham113441623-71328
2Loughborough Students103161528-131028
Vitality Women’s Premier League Bottom 5

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