Defending champions Surbiton go into the winter break top of the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division after a 2-1 home victory over former leaders University of Birmingham.
Robyn Collins opened the scoring for the hosts two minutes before half time from a penalty corner before doubling her and Surbiton’s tally five minutes after the restart.
Birmingham hit back just three minutes later, Catherine Ledesma finding the target, but it was not enough to prevent Surbiton taking the points and returning to the top of the standings.
Buckingham and Holcombe both moved above Birmingham after home victories on Saturday, the second half of the season set up to be a thrilling one with the top four separated by just three points.
Abbie Brant scored twice as Buckingham defeated Slough 4-1 at home to go second.
Slough won the reverse fixture back in September but that never looked on the cards this time around, Kitty Higgins opening the scoring on 13 minutes before Brant’s brace either side of the break put the hosts in control.
Georgina Bathurst reduced the arrears on 44 minutes, but Buckingham had the final say, Natasha James scoring six minutes from time to secure the points.
Holcombe are third after a 3-0 home triumph over mid table Clifton Robinsons.
Two goals in the space of a minute just before half time gave the hosts the initiative, first Philippa Lewis followed by an Emma Trunks penalty corner.
The points were secured nine minutes after the interval, Dirkie Chamberlain’s third goal in as many games wrapping up the win.
Bowdon climbed two places up the table to seventh after a surprise 2-1 victory at East Grinstead.
Julie Whiting opened the scoring for the visitors on 22 minutes to give them the advantage at the break, only for Alexandra Malzer to equalise five minutes into the second half.
However, Bowdon were not to be denied their third victory of the season, Rosie Bailey converting a penalty corner 11 minutes from time to secure the points.
Bottom club Canterbury are now unbeaten in four games after they came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester.
Rachel Mack put the visitors ahead after a quarter of an hour, but Sarah Kerly’s fourth of the season ensured the points were shared.
Investec Conference East
Sevenoaks moved level on points with leaders Hampstead & Westminster in the Investec Conference East after a 5-1 victory at Barnes.
Sally Sime had put the hosts ahead but two goals apiece from Maddie Thompson and Cathy Gilliat-Smith, along with one from Katherine van Woerkom, gave the visitors the points.
Hampstead’s home game against Bedford was called off, but they remain top on goal difference with a perfect nine wins from nine so far this term.
The conference’s leading scorers Wimbledon recorded a comfortable 6-0 win at Southgate to remain three points off the pace, Crista Cullen scoring a hat trick to take her total to 15 for the campaign.
Meanwhile, Cambridge made it four unbeaten after a 3-0 win over lowly Chelmsford, whilst St Albans secured a much needed three points in a 2-0 win at home to Harleston Magpies.
Investec Conference North
Beeston go into the winter break top of the pile in the Investec Conference North, a 3-0 victory over Fylde seeing the leaders to their 10th straight victory.
Sophie Robinson and Caroline Hulme put the hosts two up after just 11 minutes, with Nina Apoola’s second half strike sealing the victory.
Second place Brooklands Poynton remain six points behind the leaders after a 1-0 win at the University of Durham, Annie Mills’ eighth of the season the games’ only goal.
Ben Rhydding won 3-2 at Loughborough Students, Kelly Baxter with the winner after the hosts had fought back from two down.
Elsewhere, Jane Sixsmith and Bethan Merriman were again on the scoresheet in Sutton Coldfield’s 5-1 win over Wakefield, whilst Timperley gave themselves some breathing room at the bottom of the table after a crucial 2-1 win at Liverpool Sefton.
Investec Conference West
First clashed with second in the Investec Conference West as leaders Trojans entertained Reading and it was the hosts that ran out victors by an unexpected 4-0 margin.
Trojans struck twice in each half with Jill Tombs, Lauren Anning, Jenny Peebles and Hannah Leigh all on target.
The result allowed Stourport to move up to second after they beat Cannock 4-1. Sarah Parkinson-Mills was quick out the blocks, scoring from penalty corners in the sixth and seventh minutes. Further goals from Lora Symonds and Sarah Cavendish saw them over the line.
Team Bath Buccaneers claimed only their second point of the season in a 1-1 draw with Oxford Hawks whilst the game between Swansea City and Isca also ended 1-1.
The other game of the day between Olton & West Warwickshire and Gloucester City ended 2-2, Gloucester coming back from two down at the break.
* The lead photo shows Surbiton’s Emily Atkinson in action.
Report courtesy of England Hockey