Key clashes ahead in England’s premier division

[img_assist|nid=6238|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=100]LONDON, November 16 – With just one point separating the top three teams in the Investec women’s hockey league premier division, Sunday’s clash between leaders Canterbury and Surbiton will prove vital to both team’s ambitions of securing a spot in the championship play-offs. 

The match (12.45pm start at Polo Farm) sees unbeaten Canterbury take on a Surbiton side who battled to a 2-0 win over strugglers Slough last weekend.

Surbiton are in their first season in the premier division, but will be going all out for a win against the table-toppers.

“It’s a big game for us,” said Surbiton captain Sarah Haycroft. “We had a good team discussion after our last game against Slough, which didn’t go as planned. Although we won, we didn’t perform as well as we had hoped, so we are aiming to come good and attack Canterbury hard as it’s a game we think we can win.

“Our primary objective at the start of the season was to stay up, but we’ve shown we can compete at the top level.”

Meanwhile, second-placed Leicester will be looking to build on their 4-1 win over University of Birmingham last weekend when they travel to Slough.

In other premier division action Bowdon Hightown, who leap-frogged Sutton Coldfield when they beat them 5-1 last weekend, will want to hold on to their spot in the play-off places when they go to Bristol.

Sutton Coldfield are under more pressure this Sunday when they play host to Reading, who will similarly overtake the West Midlands team if they win.

And University of Birmingham and Olton and West Warwickshire do battle in a match which could prove key to both side’s hopes of avoiding a relegation scrap.

Leaders Sevenoaks take on the only unbeaten team in the conference east on Sunday when they play host to Harleston Magpies at Holly Bush Lane.

The Kent side struggled before beating second-bottom Chelmsford 1-0 last week, and will need to up their game if they want to get past a Magpies side who have the most potent attack in the division.

The team with the best attack plays the team with the meanest defence in the conference north, as Beeston travel to Whitley Bay and Tynemouth on Sunday.

Beeston average more than five and a half goals per game so far this season, while Whitley Bay have leaked an average of less than one.

And in the conference west, unbeaten leaders Buckingham travel to Stourport, while second-placed Isca entertain Swansea City.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Sunday, November 18 2012)

Premier Division

Clifton v Bowdon Hightown 11:30

Univ of Birmingham v Olton & West Warwicks 12:30

Canterbury v Surbiton 12:45

Slough v Leicester 13:30

Sutton Coldfield v Reading 13:30

Conference East

Sevenoaks v Harleston Magpies 12:00

Horsham v Oxford Hawks 13:15

Wimbledon v Ipswich 13:30

St Albans v Bromley & Beckenham 14:30

Old Loughtonians v Chelmsford 15:00 

Conference North

Liverpool Sefton v Wakefield Bradford 12:30

Whitley Bay and Tynemouth v Beeston 12:30

Cannock v Univ of Durham 13:30

Ben Rhydding v Brooklands Poynton 13:30

Doncaster v Loughborough Students 14:00

Conference West

Trojans v Gloucester City 12:00

Stourport v Buckingham 12:00

Bristol Firebrands v Staines 12:00

Isca v Swansea City 12:30

Taunton Vale v Barnes Hounslow Ealing 13:30