Monday, June 27, 2022

Women’s hockey: Wimbledon and Hampstead & Westminster set for Europe battle

Wimbledon co-coach Alex Danson-Bennett is relishing another must-win battle in the Vitality Women’s Premier Division ahead of their derby trip to Hampstead & Westminster.

Wimbledon lost to their London rivals on the opening day of the season in September at home before a reversal of fortune with a 2-1 victory, also at home, on the first game back after the Phase 2 Top 6 league restart last month.

Danson-Bennett said: “We had a really close game with them then and both teams are evenly matched, with some fantastic players and great club players. I think it will really just come down to which team can execute in both circles.

“We pinpointed this game, as I’m sure Hampstead & Westminster have, as a must-win. It is a massive game and we will have the GB girls back, who have had recent training games against Ireland, and so they will hopefully be sharp for Saturday.”

Wimbledon’s hopes of a first Championship title suffered a setback following a 2-1 defeat last weekend to East Grinstead. They now head to Paddington Rec on Saturday afternoon in what amounts to a crucial weekend for both derby teams.

Should the two London clubs draw, East Grinstead, in second place, will open up a key gap with matches fast running out, if they beat Beeston on Saturday.

East Grinstead have beaten the Bees twice by a 2-1 scoreline in Nottingham this season, the most recent of which arrived last month. 

Now the West Sussex side turn to hosts as they bid to keep their unbeaten run at home against Beeston intact. East Grinstead’s Sophie Bray has scored in each of their three previous matches.

Elsewhere, top plays bottom in the Top 6 split league when Surbiton host Clifton Robinsons.

The Robbies have picked up just one point from their last nine matches, a 3-3 draw away at Hampstead & Westminster.

Surbiton, meanwhile, continue to be the in-form team during this second half of the season. Six points clear of Hampstead & Westminster in third, Brett Garrard’s side will be on the cusp of securing another European berth for next season if they beat the Bristol side.

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