Monday, May 23, 2022

England Hockey previews: Hampstead & Westminster aiming for perfect 10

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Hockey Paper staff
Hockey Paper staff
Latest breaking news, previews and match reports written by Hockey Paper staff

With the top six placings already decided in the Vitality Women’s Premier Division, Hampstead & Westminster return to top flight action looking to record a 10th straight win ahead of the winter break.

On the final weekend before the mid-season break, Kate Richardson-Walsh and Sarah Kelleher’s side travel to Surbiton for an eagerly-anticipated clash between two of England’s top clubs.

Both sides remain unbeaten this season and Saturday’s 2pm clash at Sugden Road will undoubtedly be a physical and highly-skilled clash.

“We are really pleased with how things have gone but know there is always room for improvement,” said Lucy Hyams, H&W’s top scorer.

“As a team we don’t get ahead of ourselves so I’m not sure it’s even sunk in yet that we’ve won our last nine and every game is different. We’d love to win this weekend but coming up against Surbiton is always going to be tough. It’ll be a really good game and we’re looking forward to it.”

While Hyams has netted six times, she hailed Hampstead’s defence, including the likes of Grace Balsdon and Emily Douglas (Maguire) which has shipped just nine goals so far.

Lucy Hyams, right, has moved to the forward lines this season PIC: Smifsports

“We’ve defended really well and we’ve got some really experienced people at the back which has helped us a lot,” added Hyams. “On the attack we know we can score goals and take our chances. It’s been really fun, we have a good laugh and don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

After Surbiton ended East Grinstead’s 14-match unbeaten record at home last Sunday, the West Sussex side will look to cement second place with victory over Clifton Robinsons at home. Sophie Bray could also be the first to 10 goals for the season.

Meanwhile, Beeston’s timely run of two successive wins ensured qualification for the top six split league. And they will be in front of home support when they host Loughborough Students on Saturday.

Elsewhere on the final weekend, four of the five bottom sides all face each other ahead of the league split next February.

Swansea, who have yet to find victory this season, head to second bottom Holcombe, while University of Birmingham face Buckingham, who are out to stop a run of six defeats.

All four clubs, as well as Loughborough, will contest the bottom five league in February, with two sides facing relegation.

Hampstead & Westminster, East Grinstead, Surbiton, Wimbledon, Beeston and Clifton Robinsons have already secured berths in the top six league.

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