Vitality Women’s Hockey League (26 March)

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Hampstead & Westminster kept Surbiton’s title champagne on ice with a 2-0 victory which also boosted their European hopes on a dramatic Saturday in the Vitality Women’s Premier Division.

Surbiton went into the late kick-off knowing just a point would be enough to seal their eighth successive title following defeats for Wimbledon and East Grinstead but fell behind early on to a Grace Balsdon goal.

Lucy Hyams added another in the second half as the visitors moved into second – they are now the only team who can mathematically catch the leaders, who need a point from their final two matches to lift the trophy.

East Grinstead slipped to third following their 3-1 reverse at Clifton Robinsons, who ended their 10-match winless run in the process.

Claire Jones, Catherine Macaulay and Livvy Hoskins put the hosts three up inside 40 minutes and after Sophie Bray pulled one back, Clifton held firm to seal an impressive win.

Beeston were equally impressive in beating Wimbledon by the same scoreline, getting off to a flyer through Lucy Millington’s third-minute opener.

Sophie Robinson doubled the advantage and though Sarah-Jayne Thorburn halved the deficit just past the hour mark, Beeston hit straight back as Millington’s second sealed the points.

At the other end, Swansea’s relegation was confirmed as they went down 3-0 at home to University of Birmingham.

The Welsh outfit had breathed fresh life into their survival hopes with a first win of the season last weekend but had no answer to their Midlands-based visitors as goals from Millie Attwell, Lily Walker and Delyth Thomas consigned the hosts to Division 1 hockey next season.

Holcombe overcame Loughborough Students in an entertaining game, going 4-0 up by half-time courtesy of goals from Candice Manuel, Tania Escaich, Harriet Pittard and Ivi Pessina.

Izzy Petter and Beth Alexander responded for Loughborough after the break but the hosts withstood the fightback to earn all three points.

Beeston 3-1 Wimbledon
Clifton Robinsons 3-1 East Grinstead
Surbiton 0-2 Hampstead & Westminster
Holcombe 4-2 Loughborough Students
Swansea 0-3 University of Birmingham

Division 1 North

University of Nottingham secured their place in next season’s Premier Division with a game to spare after overcoming Bowdon Hightown 3-2 in the title decider. The game lived up to the occasion, with Bowdon coming from 2-0 down to draw level before Katie Curtis struck with a minute remaining to cap a memorable week for the hosts, who also claimed the BUCS crown on Wednesday. Elsewhere, Durham University sealed third spot courtesy of a 2-1 win over Stourport while Leicester City were convincing 6-1 victors against relegated Olton & West Warwickshire. Belper, whose fate has also been sealed, lost 2-0 at home to Ben Rhydding and Brooklands Poynton came away from Gloucester City with a 5-2 win.

Belper 0-2 Ben Rhydding
Durham University 2-1 Stourport
Gloucester City 2-5 Brooklands Poynton
Leicester City 6-1 Olton & West Warwickshire
University of Nottingham 3-2 Bowdon Hightown

Division 1 South

Reading will join University of Nottingham in the top flight after securing the point they needed thanks to a 1-1 draw at Surbiton 2s, Liv Saligoi netting for the visitors. They now sit an unassailable five points clear of Slough, who beat Harleston Magpies 1-0 and leapfrogged Sevenoaks into second following the Kent side’s 3-3 draw at home to Isca & University of Exeter. Trojans drew 1-1 at Wimbledon 2s, who secured their own safety in the process, and are now within just a point of both Cambridge City, beaten 2-1 at Canterbury, and Harleston Magpies – an anxious weekend is in store for all three next time out with just the team finishing bottom to go down.

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

Conference East

Barnes wrapped up the title in some style, netting 13 without reply against Canterbury 2s – Aleesa Ferguson scoring five of them. Southgate will finish as runners-up following their 1-0 win at Chelmsford while Bromley & Beckenham kept alive their hopes of surviving as the best of the ninth-placed team with a battling 2-2 draw at Hampstead & Westminster 2s. Horsham beat Ipswich 2-1 while East London were beaten by the same scoreline at home by London Wayfarers.

Barnes 13-0 Canterbury 2s
Chelmsford 0-1 Southgate
East London 1-2 London Wayfarers
Hampstead & Westminster 2-2 Bromley & Beckenham
Horsham 2-1 Ipswich

Conference Midlands

Khalsa Leamington and Broxbourne saw their relegations confirmed, with Khalsa going down 4-0 at home to champions Sutton Coldfield and Broxbourne drawing 2-2 with Loughborough Students. Both have 12 points but can no longer finish as the best ninth-placed team across the four Conferences. Bedford and Cannock drew 1-1, as did St Albans and University of Birmingham 2s, and Oxford University were narrow 1-0 winners at Beeston 2s.

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

Conference North

The relegation battle will go down to the wire in Conference North, with three teams still in danger. Alderley Edge claimed a vital 2-1 win over Durham University 2s to move two points clear of Pendle Forest, who ran champions Leeds close before going down 3-2, and three clear of Neston, who went down 2-1 at home to Timperley. Pendle Forest are currently the best placed of the teams in ninth so their destiny is in their own hands ahead of next weekend. Elsewhere, shares were spoiled between Wakefield and Didsbury Northern (0-0) and Fylde and Doncaster (1-1).

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

Conference West

The only Conference title left up for grabs will be decided on the final weekend of the season after Team Bath Buccaneers closed the gap on Witney to a single point. Bath were 1-0 winners at Penarth while Witney drew 1-1 at third-placed Oxford Hawks, who are now out of the title running. At the other end, Clifton Robinsons claimed a precious 2-1 win over relegated University of Bristol to move above Basingstoke – who lost 2-1 at Exe – on goal difference. Both sit on 16 points and whoever finishes second bottom is at risk of going down. The mid-table clash between Bristol Firebrands and Cheltenham was convincingly won 4-0 by the visitors.

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

With thanks to England Hockey