[img_assist|nid=6596|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=82|height=100]CANTERBURY, February 23 – Leaders Canterbury lost their first game of the season in the Investec Women’s Hockey League, suffering a 2-0 home defeat to Reading on Saturday.
Reading, who are also strong contenders to reach the end of season play-offs powered to a 1-0 lead inside the first minute courtesy of an Elizabeth Hunt strike.
A second goal from Elspeth Cockburn seven minutes from time sealed the win for Reading who remain in third.
Bowdon Hightown closed the gap to fourth-placed Surbiton when they won 4-2 at Olton and West Warwickshire to draw level on points and pull closer to a spot in the end of season competition.
Olton started brightly and found the net twice in the opening seven minutes to put Bowdon on the back foot. But Tina Cullen came to Bowdon’s rescue after half an hour, slotting in to lead the fight back.
Further goals from Sally Walton and Claire Hartley put Bowdon 3-2 up. Naomi James had the chance to draw Olton level after being handed a penalty stroke by the referee on 63 minutes, but her effort hit the post and her misery was further compounded a minute from time as Claire Hartley swept home to wrap up the points.
Clifton have to keep picking up points If they want to be in the mix come the end of the season and they did just that with a 4-2 win at University of Birmingham.
Sutton Coldfield also have an outside chance of making that top four and they kept up the pressure on the teams above with a 5-2 win over basement club Slough. Jane Sixsmith and Sarah Mills both scored a brace.
Beeston suffered only their second loss of the campaign in the Investec Conference North, although it was a heavy one as Loughborough Students hit top form to win 7-3.
In the Investec Conference West, Buckingham continued their remarkable run of form with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Gloucester City. That’s 14 wins from 14 now.
Investec Premier Division: Slough 2, Sutton Coldfield 5; Canterbury 0, Reading 2; Olton and West Warwickshire 2, Bowdon Hightown 4; University of Birmingham 2, Clifton 4.
Investec Conference East: Wimbledon 2, Oxford Hawks 1; Chelmsford 0, Ipswich 0; Bromley and Beckenham 1, Old Loughtonians 1; St Albans 1, Harleston Magpies 1.
Investec Conference North: Brooklands Poynton 2, Wakefield Bradford 2; Beeston 3, Loughborough Students 7; Whitley Bay and Tynemouth v University of Durham postponed; Ben Rhydding 1, Liverpool Sefton 0; Cannock 1, Doncaster 2.
Investec Conference West: Bristol Firebrands 3, Taunton Vale 0; Swansea City 5, Staines 0; Buckingham 3, Gloucester City 0; Trojans 3, Barnes Ealing Hounslow 1; Isca 3, Stourport 2.