Newly-promoted East Grinstead made a fantastic start to life in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division by holding reigning champions Surbiton to a 1-1 draw. Surbiton were undefeated last season but they were a goal down after 32 minutes with Takara Haines firing East Grinstead into the lead on her debut. Chloe Palmer was on hand to spare Surbiton’s blushes, blasting home from a penalty corner with ten minutes remaining.
Another team to enjoy a great start was University of Birmingham who recorded a 3-0 victory over Leicester. Rebecca Condie opened the scoring on seven minutes and Holly Hunt, fresh from joining Birmingham from Bowdon, added a second after the break. Hannah Martin made sure of the points on 53 minutes.
Two goals in five minutes steered Clifton to an opening-day 2-1 win against Bowdon Hightown. Harriet Pearce pounced in the 43rd minute before Claire Thomas doubled the advantage shortly after. Jane Donnelly scored a late consolation for the visitors.
Buckingham and Reading played out a 1-1 draw. Debutant Phoebe Richards equalised for Buckingham after Marianne Downer had given Reading the lead.
The Kent derby between Holcombe and Canterbury also ended in a draw with neither side able to score.
Investec Conference West
Kim Pullon scored twice as Gloucester City made a flying start to the Investec Women’s Conference West, storming to a 5-0 win at home to the University of Bristol. Terri Brown, Maisie Robertson and Zoe Burford also registered for the hosts as the newly-promoted students made an uncomfortable start to life in the National Leagues.
Oxford Hawks also began with a win as goals from Lucy Stewart, Abi Flory, Hather Francis and Jo Tolson helped them on their way to a 4-1 success against Trojans, whilst Stourport started strongly with a 3-1 win at Bristol Firebrands.
Elsewhere Sutton Coldfield scored either side of half time through Vicky Woolford and Jane Sixsmith to cap a 2-0 win at Olton and West Warwicks, and Nathalie Blythe got the only goal as Swansea won 1-0 at Isca.
Investec Conference North
Gwen Smith scored twice as Wakefield staged a remarkable comeback at home to University of Durham, coming from three down at half time to win 5-3. It took just 18 minutes of the second half for the hosts to turn the game on its head, with Georgia Byas, Heather Stafford and Rosie Tootell all scoring to stun the visitors.
Elsewhere Sophie Robinson scored twice as Beeston played out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Ben Rhydding, for whom Rachel Doherty also found the net on two occasions. And there was nothing between Whitley Bay and Tynemouth and Brooklands Poynton as the two sides drew 2-2 with Helen Turner scoring both goals for the visitors.
Belper lost out 2-1 to Loughborough Students, and a goal in each half helped Liverpool Sefton on their way to a 2-0 victory at newly-promoted Springfields.
Investec Conference East
Two goals from Amy Sheehan proved enough to help Slough beat hosts Sevenoaks 3-1 in their opening clash in the Investec Women’s Conference East on Saturday. Alex Scott added a third goal, and although Rebecca Ross pulled back a goal for Sevenoaks it was not enough.
St Albans are top of the early table after beating Chelmsford 4-2, goals coming from Natasha Humphris, Hannah Macleod, Annie Barratt and Emma Onien.
Hampstead and Westminster won 4-3 at Maidenhead, while Cambridge City also won away, 2-1 at Ipswich.
Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, September 12 2015):
Investec Women’s Premier Division: Clifton 2, Bowdon Hightown 1; Holcombe 0, Canterbury 0; Buckingham 1, Reading 1; University of Birmingham 3, Leicester 0; Surbiton 1, East Grinstead 1.
Investec Women’s Conference West: Bristol Firebrands 1, Stourport 3; Gloucester City 5, University of Bristol 0; Oxford Hawks 4, Trojans 1; Olton and West Warwicks 0, Sutton Coldfield 2; Isca 0, Swansea 1.
Investec Women’s Conference North: Belper 1, Loughborough Students 2; Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 2, Brooklands Poynton 2; Beeston 3, Ben Rhydding 3; Wakefield 5, University of Durham 3; Springfields 1, Liverpool Sefton 2.
Investec Women’s Conference East: Sevenoaks 1, Slough 3; St Albans 4, Chelmsford 2; Maidenhead 3, Hampstead and Westminster 4; Harleston Magpies 1, Wimbledon 1; Ipswich 1, Cambridge City 2.
Photo above shows University of Birmingham goalscorer Holly Hunt in action against Leicester
Report courtesy of England Hockey via Snowdon Sports