[img_assist|nid=6238|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=100]CANTERBURY, February 15 – With four of the top five teams in the Investec women’s premier division facing a double-header weekend, the race for a spot in the end of season play-offs is hotting up.
Two matches that were postponed before Christmas have been rescheduled for Sunday, in addition to the regular league programme on Saturday.
Leaders Canterbury face bottom of the table Slough on Saturday, and then take on second-placed Leicester on Sunday.
The East Midlands side will need to be on top form for the Canterbury clash, but also have a tough proposition against Bowdon Hightown 24 hours earlier.
“It’s a very important weekend for us, but we’re as confident as we can be,” said Leicester manager Sue Holwell. “We are at full strength for this weekend.”
Leicester had three players on England duty at the Investec Challenge in South Africa last week – Maddie Hinch, Nic White and Jo Hunter – and they are all in contention for this weekend, along with Irish international Emma Clarke who missed last Saturday’s match through illness.
Leicester will be aiming to keep their run of seven consecutive league wins going, but Holwell added: “It’s going to be a tough weekend. When you play Canterbury you never know what sort of team they will have or how they will play.”
For Bowdon Hightown, their double-header weekend sees them take on fourth-placed Surbiton on Sunday as well as Saturday’s Leicester clash, and two wins could see them move up to third.
Elsewhere, Reading will be aiming to preserve third spot when they travel to the University of Birmingham on Saturday, while on the same day Surbiton entertain Sutton Coldfield.
In the Investec Conference North, University of Durham will be aiming to bounce back from last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at table-topping Beeston with a home match against Doncaster. Meanwhile, Beeston travel to Brooklands Poynton in search of their 12th league win in 13 matches.
Sevenoaks dropped off the top of the table in the Investec Conference East when they were beaten 4-2 by Oxford Hawks last weekend, and will want to go back to first spot with a win at Wimbledon this Saturday.
And in the Investec Conference West, runaway leaders Buckingham realistically only need another two victories to ensure they finish top, and they will be aiming to continue their cracking form with a home match against Barnes Hounslow Ealing.
Tickets for the end of season playoffs, Investec Women’s Finals Weekend, on April 20-21 are on sale now. Find out more and book via www.englandhockey.co.uk/leaguefinals
Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, February 16 2013)
Investec Premier Division
Bowdon Hightown v Leicester 11:45
Olton & West Warwicks v Clifton 12:00
Slough v Canterbury 12:30
Univ of Birmingham v Reading 12:30
Surbiton v Sutton Coldfield 14:00
Investec Conference East
Oxford Hawks v Chelmsford 12:00
Bromley and Beckenham v Horsham 14:00
Ipswich v Harleston Magpies 14:00
Wimbledon v Sevenoaks 14:00
St Albans v Old Loughtonians 15:00
Investec Conference North
Brooklands Poynton v Beeston 12:00
Univ of Durham v Doncaster 12:00
Whitley Bay and Tynemouth v Liverpool Sefton 12:30
Cannock v Ben Rhydding 13:30
Wakefield Bradford v Loughborough Students 13:30
Investec Conference West
Buckingham v Barnes Hounslow Ealing 12:00
Gloucester City v Swansea City 12:00
Stourport v Taunton Vale 12:00
Trojans v Staines 12:00
Isca v Bristol Firebrands 12:30
Investec Women’s Hockey League (Sunday, February 17 2013)
Investec Premier Division
Bowdon Hightown v Surbiton 12:30
Leicester v Canterbury 12:30