WOMENS HOCKEY Clifton target top four return

investec women's hockey league logoClifton Ladies Hockey Club enter the mid-season midwinter break looking to regain their place in the Investec Women’s Hockey League top flight top four.

A 3-1 home defeat by resurgent Reading in round 11 meant Clifton slipped to fifth in the Women’s Premier Division, a point behind fourth placed East Grinstead.

Jo Carter scored Clifton’s sole goal against Reading, who replied through Elizabeth Hunt and two-goal Hannah Leigh.

Clifton supporters and player-manager Aileen Davis will take heart from an improvement as the season has progressed with Clifton winning four of their last six league matches and also qualifying for next year’s Women’s Cup quarter finals.

As if by fate their next league match is at top four rivals East Grinstead when the women’s national league season resumes on Saturday February 6.

Clifton host unbeaten national league leaders University of Birmingham in the cup quarter finals on Sunday February 14.

 Three top sides start 2016 separated by two points at the England Hockey Women’s Conference West summit – and all finished their 2015 schedule with a flourish.

Leaders Sutton Coldfield beat league newcomers University of Bristol Ladies HC 6-1 in their top versus bottom clash in the Midlands. Minty Culley scored UBLHC’s 66th minute consolation goal with her team already trailing 6-0.

Second placed Stourport beat ninth placed Firebrands 3-1 despite Holly Savage’s 13th minute opener for the Bristol reds.

Third placed Swansea Spartans stayed within touching distance of the top following their 4-1 home win over eighth placed Olton & West Warwicks and goals for Natalie Blyth (8pc) Sophie Clayton (15) Bridget Radice (30) and Carys Tucker (48pc) before Laura Collins' last minute consolation strike for the visitors.

The self-styled Spartans Army of Swansea supporters have every reason to be hopeful their internationally star studded side can return to the top of the table, and stay there, in 2016.

Sixth placed Isca University drew 1-1 at fourth placed Gloucester City when Olivia Hoskins cancelled out Kim Pullon’s 48th minute opener on the hour.

• West Clubs Women's Hockey League latest

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