Source: England Hockey

Vitality Women’s Hockey League (19-20 March)

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Surbiton took a step closer to lifting the Vitality Women’s Premier Division title on a significant Saturday at the top of the table.

The leaders stretched their advantage at the summit to seven points with just three games to play as their comfortable 3-0 win over Clifton Robinsons was combined with defeats for their two nearest challengers, East Grinstead and Hampstead & Westminster.

The in-form Darcy Bourne was again in ruthless mood for Surbiton, notching a quickfire brace either side of the interval to open up a two-goal cushion.

Meg Dowthwaite added a third for the hosts, who could now seal the title if they beat Hampstead & Westminster next weekend.

Their cause was helped by East Grinstead slipping up at home to Beeston, who earned an impressive 3-2 win at the high-flyers.

Alex Malzer gave the home side an early lead but Beeston roared back through strikes from Mads Newitt, Alice Huddlestone and Lauren Burrell.

Sophie Bray set up a grandstand finish but the visitors held on for a notable win.

The race for the second Euro Hockey League spot looks set to go down to the wire with Wimbledon now just a point behind East Grinstead following their 1-0 derby success at Hampstead & Westminster.

Fiona Burnet’s 56th-minute goal was all that separated the two London sides as the visitors leapfrogged their cross-capital rivals into third.

In the Bottom 5, Swansea picked up their first win of the season at the 14th attempt as they prevailed 2-1 at Loughborough Students.

Abigail Romig and Betsan Thomas were on target for the visitors, who dug in to claim all three points after Jen Park halved the deficit with 10 minutes remaining.

Eight points now separate the two sides while Holcombe were unable to put distance between themselves and the bottom two after going down 2-1 at Buckingham.

The strugglers took the lead through Tania Escaich but goals from Madeleine Newlyn and Olivia Strickland turned the game in favour of the hosts, who are now five points clear of danger.

  • East Grinstead 2-3 Beeston
  • Hampstead & Westminster 0-1 Wimbledon
  • Surbiton 3-0 Clifton Robinsons
  • Buckingham 2-1 Holcombe
  • Loughborough Students 1-2 Swansea
  • University of Birmingham 1-0 Swansea

Division One North

Nike Lorenz delivered a dazzling five-star display to extend University of Nottingham’s winning run at the top of the table.

Lorenz, who also grabbed a double in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Ben Rhydding, netted five of her side’s goals in their 9-0 triumph over Olton & West Warwickshire as the East Midlands outfit geared up for next weekend’s showdown against fellow high-flyers Bowdon Hightown in style.

The result also officially condemned Olton & West Warwickshire to relegation as they now lie nine points adrift of safety with just two games remaining.

And the same fate applied to Belper, who went down 1-0 at Leicester City to leave them with a similarly unassailable margin to haul back heading into the conclusion of the season.

At the other end of the table, Bowdon Hightown will also arrive at their title decider against University of Nottingham in red-hot form after Sophia Crawshay’s hat-trick propelled them to a 5-0 victory over third-bottom Gloucester City.

Olton & West Warwickshire and Belper’s defeats ensure Gloucester’s place in the division remains secure while elsewhere, Brooklands Poynton clinched a surprise 2-1 triumph at fourth-place Stourport.

    • Ben Rhydding 1-2 Durham University
    • Bowdon Hightown 5-0 Gloucester City
    • Leicester City 1-0 Belper
    • Olton & West Warwicks 0-9 University of Nottingham
    • Stourport 1-2 Brooklands Poynton

Division One South

Reading’s place in next season’s Vitality Women’s Premier Division is all-but confirmed after their 0-0 draw at Slough in a Berkshire derby.

A win for Reading, coupled with Sevenoaks failing to win at Harleston Magpies, would have confirmed Reading’s promotion and after those two sides drew 1-1, Reading’s point means they lie six points clear at the summit with a vastly superior goal difference heading into the final two games.

Slough remain one point behind Sevenoaks in third while at the bottom, Trojans grabbed a vital victory over Canterbury to throw themselves a lifeline in the race for survival.

Trojans are now just two points adrift of Cambridge City – who lost 2-0 at home against Isca & University of Exeter – and Harleston Magpies heading into a crucial deciding two games over the next fortnight.

Elsewhere, Surbiton 2s beat Wimbledon 2s 3-1 to cut the gap on Slough to just five points.

      • Cambridge City 0-2 Isca & University of Exeter
      • Sevenoaks 1-1 Harleston Magpies
      • Slough 0-0 Reading
      • Surbiton 2s 3-1 Wimbledon 2s
      • Trojans 1-0 Canterbury

Conference East

The champagne will remain on ice for Barnes as they failed to claim the win at London Wayfarers which would have clinched the Conference East title.

A 0-0 draw, coupled with Southgate’s 3-1 victory against Horsham, means the leaders hold a five-point lead over their rivals heading into the final two matches.

Elsewhere, already-relegated Canterbury 2s went down 4-0 at home to Chelmsford in a result that lifted the Essex side above Horsham in the battle for survival.

Chelmsford now lie five points clear of second-bottom Bromley & Beckenham, whose 4-2 defeat against Ipswich leaves them with a four-point gap to overturn on Horsham – who they play on the final day – with two games remaining.

Hampstead & Westminster 2s beat East London 2-1 as the league’s fourth and fifth-place outfits did battle in the capital.

      • Bromley & Beckenham 2-4 Ipswich
      • Canterbury 2s 0-4 Chelmsford
      • Hampstead & Westminster 2s 2-1 East London
      • London Wayfarers 0-0 Barnes
      • Southgate 3-1 Horsham

Conference Midlands

Sutton Coldfield soared into Division One as their 2-1 win against Oxford University, combined with Bedford’s 4-2 defeat at Loughborough Students 2s, meant the West Midlands team were officially crowned champions.

St Albans beat Broxbourne 5-0 to remain third while at the bottom, the battle to beat the drop remains intense as those defeats for Oxford University and Broxbourne leave them embroiled in a scrap with Khalsa Leamington to secure their survival.

Broxbourne are bottom on 11 points, Khalsa Leamington sit one place above on 12 – after their 4-0 defeat against Cannock – while Oxford University lie two points clear of safety on 14.

In the other game of the day, Beeston 2s toppled University of Birmingham 2s 1-0 in a rare Conference Midlands clash that did not have ramifications at either end of the table.

      • Cannock 4-0 Khalsa Leamington
      • Loughborough Students 4-2 Bedford
      • St Albans 5-0 Broxbourne
      • Sutton Coldfield 2-1 Oxford University
      • University of Birmingham 2s 0-1 Beeston 2s

Conference North

Leeds marched into Division One in style as they breezed past Neston 6-1 to secure the Conference North title.

That result extended their lead over second-place Wakefield to an unassailable seven points at the summit – despite their 1-0 win at home against relegation-threatened Pendle Forest.

Pendle Forest still lie one point clear of the drop after bottom of the table Neston’s loss and Alderley Edge’s 2-1 defeat at Didsbury.

And Timperley remain in a similarly precarious position after their 3-2 defeat at Doncaster also leaves them on 17 points, level with Pendle Forest and one clear of both Neston and Alderley Edge.

In the other game of the day, Fylde completed an impressive 2-0 win at Durham University to reduce the gap on the north-east side – who are fourth – to just a solitary point.

      • Didsbury Northern 2-1 Alderley Edge
      • Doncaster 3-2 Timperley
      • Durham University 0-2 Fylde
      • Leeds 6-1 Neston
      • Wakefield 1-0 Pendle Forest

Conference West

The Conference West title remains far from decided as Witney, Team Bath Buccaneers and Oxford Hawks continue to duel it out at the summit.

Witney won a 4-3 thriller at Exe to remain top on 33 points, while Hawks won 2-1 at Cheltenham to capitalise on Team Bath Buccaneers’ inability to beat Clifton Robinsons 2s and move three points behind them – and six behind Witney – in third.

Hawks know a win against Witney on home soil next weekend would deliver a dagger blow to their Oxfordshire rivals in the title race, while Team Bath Buccaneers will hope to beat Penarth – who beat Basingstoke 2-1 on Saturday – to reel the table-toppers in.

Penarth’s triumph means Basingstoke were unable to climb further clear of the drop, lying three points above Clifton Robinsons 2s in second-bottom and already-relegated University of Bristol, who grabbed a surprise win and first points of the season with a 1-0 triumph over Bristol Firebrands on Saturday.

      • Basingstoke 1-2 Penarth
      • Cheltenham 1-2 Oxford Hawks
      • Exe 3-4 Witney
      • Team Bath Buccaneers 0-0 Clifton Robinsons 2s
      • University of Bristol 1-0 Bristol Firebrands

With thanks to England Hockey