Women’s Premier Division leaders Leicester face a double header this weekend to catch up on their European indoor involvement in February. They host seventh placed Clifton on Saturday who are fighting a battle at the other end of the table, two points ahead of the relegation play-off place.
Leicester has won six of their last seven games, bouncing back from a defeat in February to win two in a row. Clifton, on the other hand, head into the game on the back of 4 straight defeats and the trip to Leicester Grammar School may be too great a task to overturn that run of form.
EuroCanterbury’s hopes of finishing top of the league have taken a significant blow over the past two weekends suffering two straight losses. On Saturday they travel to Cannock, whose form has seen an upsurge having played two relegation survival challengers. A draw with Olton & WW and win over bottom side Brooklands Poynton moved them into eighth ahead of Olton although only on goal difference. With Olton & WW playing Brooklands Poynton in a crucial battle to avoid relegation, a shock result would do Cannock the power of good.
Olton & WW have the opportunity to regain the eighth place they lost to Cannock last week with a win in their crunch match with Brooklands Poynton. They have enjoyed a decent return of points for their position over the past three weeks taking five from an available nine including a surprise 4-2 win over third placed Slough. For Brooklands Poynton the fixture provides greater significance. There will be six points available for the remainder of the season after the weekend, unless Poynton pick up points to claw back the deficit, automatic relegation could be a reality come Monday.
Can Bowdon rock old rivals Slough this weekend?
In seasons gone by Bowdon Hightown hosting Slough would have been a battle for supremacy in the division. This season, with the sides sitting in fifth and third respectively, the fixture represents an opportunity to cement a place in the EHL Championships. Bets might be on for a 3-2 win for Slough since it has been the result of their last two fixtures in wins over Clifton and University of Birmingham, but Hightown were the winners by the only goal in this fixture in November.
Can Birmingham Uni contain Reading ?
The Cheshire side have had an indifferent run in to this fixture having won, drawn and lost their last three games. It promises to be an intriguing fixture. Reading host University of Birmingham in the final matchup of the Women’s Premier Division this season. Reading extended their winning streak to seven against Clifton last weekend so look like a tough prospect to beat. Don’t write off University of Birmingham though, although they have lost their last two games, they will be desperate to move into the EHL Championships qualification places.
Conference - Women
Sevenoaks lead Women’s Conference East by three points despite taking just five from a possible nine in the last three weeks. The leaders host Old Loughtonians on Saturday who occupy seventh in the table. Ipswich, who fell from first by losing two in a row, will be searching for the first win since a 5-1 victory over bottom of the table Dereham at home against third placed Surbiton. Surbiton have fared exceptionally well in their inaugural season in Women’s Conference East having set the pace for a time in being unbeaten to the winter break. Their form has dropped off since and they have seen losses to Harleston Magpies, Sevenoaks and Old Loughtonians after the break. At the bottom, Dereham host local rivals Harleston Magpies hoping to close the gap on Cambridge City knowing that the best finish they can now achieve is a relegation play-off place.
Women’s Conference North is led by Sutton Coldfield who average scoring nearly five goals a game whilst also possessing the second best defensive record in the league. The West Midlands side travel away to second placed Loughborough Students in what may turn out to be the title decider. Loughborough Students, while having scored fewer goals, have maintained a promotion push all season and trail Sutton Coldfield by just two points. The sides have lost just two games each this season, both have lost to Sunderland (Loughborough twice), whilst the remaining game was Loughborough’s 3-1 win over Sutton Coldfield in November. With the title on the line it promises to be one of the highlights of the EHL this weekend. In a major relegation battle Belper host Beeston with both sides on eight points in ninth and eighth position respectively. A win for either side would be a massive boost to their survival hopes with both possessing identical playing records. Belper hold the upper hand having beaten their local rivals by a narrow 2-1 margin in November though Beeston enter the game having earned a draw at fourth placed Wakefield Bradford last weekend.
Buckingham lead Women’s Conference West and travel to third bottom side Staines on Saturday. Buckingham pulled four points clear last weekend thanks to a 1-0 win at Firebrands and Isca University’s loss at home to Swansea. Isca University will be hoping to regain the form that saw them lead the division before losing two in a row; they travel to third place Trojans who have also lost two in a row. With Worcester now relegated, Firebrands are battling to avoid the relegation play-offs and host Worcester on Saturday. With Staines facing Buckingham, Firebrands have an opportunity to move up from ninth.
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photos Janos Schmidt