Source: Andy Smith

Investec Women’s Title Race heats up

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With five teams chasing the last three play-off places, the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division is heading for a dramatic final few weeks – and this weekend sees two crucial games between teams aiming to reach the Finals Weekend.

The University of Birmingham leapfrogged Clifton Robinsons into fourth spot last weekend, and they will be aiming to hold on to that position when they host them on Saturday.

“With only three games to go there are some tight matches to come,” said University of Birmingham Head Coach Phil Gooderham. “It’s an old cliché but it’s true to say that we are taking each game one at a time.

“We’ve had a tough season with players not being available for us because of various international tournaments, but this weekend for the first time we’re picking from a full squad – apart from Olivia Paige [who aggravated a thumb injury while playing for England in South Africa].”

With just one defeat in their last five games Birmingham are a side in form, and Gooderham added: “The girls are feeling positive, they have been working hard all year and will be doing their best to reach their season-long target of making it into the play-offs.”

Elsewhere, East Grinstead are at home against Leicester in another battle between two teams targeting a place in the play-offs. The Sussex side could clinch their spot at Finals Weekend if they win, and other results go in their favour.

At the other end of the table Bowdon Hightown could climb out of the bottom two with a win this Saturday – but they face a tough trip to leaders Surbiton.

Slough are currently third-bottom, and will want to win to keep Bowdon Hightown below them. However, they face Holcombe at home in their game this weekend.

In the top flight’s other game bottom of the table Reading head to Canterbury desperate for a win to keep their hopes of avoiding the drop alive.

In the Investec Conference West, leaders Buckingham are at home against Gloucester City, while second-placed Stourport – who lost the lead following last weekend’s defeat to Buckingham – go to Isca as they bid to re-take top spot.

Brooklands Poynton could wrap up the Investec Conference North title if they beat Ben Rhydding this weekend. Elsewhere, second-placed Beeston will be hoping Brooklands lose and they win at Liverpool Sefton.

And leaders Wimbledon head to Harleston Magpies in the Investec Conference East on Saturday, while second-placed Sevenoaks are on the road at Southgate as they maintain their bid to take the title.

* The above photo shows the university of Birmingham defending a penalty corner. 

FIXTURES – Saturday, March 11

Investec Women’s Hockey League 

Investec Premier Division

Univ of Birmingham v Clifton Robinsons 12:30

Slough v Holcombe 13:30

East Grinstead v Leicester 13:30

Surbiton v Bowdon Hightown 14:00

Canterbury v Reading 16:00

Investec Conference East

Cambridge City v Hampstead & Westminster 12:30

Harleston Magpies v Wimbledon 14:00

Southgate v Sevenoaks 14:00

Chelmsford v St Albans 14:00

Northampton Saints v West Herts 14:15

Investec Conference North

Brooklands Poynton v Ben Rhydding 11:45

Loughborough Students v Belper 12:30

Liverpool Sefton v Beeston 12:30

Wakefield v Timperley 13:30

Sutton Coldfield v Univ of Durham 14:00

Investec Conference West

Oxford Hawks v Swansea City 12:00

Buckingham v Gloucester City 12:00

Trojans v Olton and West Warwicks 12:00

Isca v Stourport 12:00

Bristol Firebrands v Exe 12:30

Report courtesy of England Hockey via Snowdon Sports