Men’s Hockey League Preview – 23 April 2022
Surbiton and Wimbledon are still in contention for the second European place alongside champions Old Georgians in the 2022-23 season.
And alongside the battle for Europe, there is a battle for who ends up as the top goalscorer in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division with the top four goalscorers separated by just three goals.
Second placed Wimbledon visit Old Georgians with a two point advantage over Surbiton, who make the trip to Hampstead & Westminster. If Surbiton win, anything less than a Wimbledon victory will see Surbiton sneak second place to follow up winning bronze at last weekend’s Euro Hockey League event in Amsterdam. A Wimbledon draw would see them join Surbiton on 42 points, but with Surbiton starting the day with a five better goal difference (+42 to Wimbledon’s +37), a point would not be enough.
This will be Wimbledon’s first visit to Old Georgians this season and they have the encouragement of knowing that they inflicted the newly crowned champions’ only defeat of the season, 2-0 back in October at Raynes Park High School. In February, Old Georgians won 5-3 at the same venue and Sam Ward is on 18 goals, three off the lead mark, in spite of missing part of the campaign through injury. Wimbledon’s Ed Horler is on 20 for this season and is level with Surbiton’s Luke Taylor and one behind Hampstead’s Matt Guise-Brown.
Taylor and Guise-Brown’s penalty corner expertise will be on show at Paddington Recreation Ground, as Surbiton make their first visit to the venue since 2020. Both previous meetings this season were at Sugden Road, Hampstead winning 2-1 in November and Surbiton winning 3-2 in February. Hampstead are also coming back from Europe after finishing fifth in the EHL Ranking Cup.
The other Top Six match sees Holcombe host East Grinstead with the West Sussex club guaranteed sixth and Holcombe needing to win and overcome a twelve worse goal difference to leap frog Hampstead into fourth. Holcombe won 2-1 when the teams first met in Kent in October and East Grinstead snatched a late 3-3 draw at home in February.
In the Bottom Five, Beeston completed their fixtures last week and are assured of ninth place. Durham University and the University of Exeter take their relegation battle to the final week after Exeter beat Beeston 4-3 at home to move one point ahead of Durham, who were on their second bye week.
Exeter make the long trip to Brooklands Manchester University, where they started their season in Week 2 after having a bye week in the first week of the season. Exeter lost 2-1 in the North West and Brooklands will be aiming for the Grand Slam following their 4-2 win in Devon in March.
Durham need to beat Oxted to have any chance of retaining their top flight status and will have some confidence after Oxted scored twice in the last three minutes to overturn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win in October. If they can get into a similar position but hold Oxted off, then Exeter would need to win at Brooklands to stay up. Durham lost 3-1 when they visited Surrey in February.
Oxted lead Brooklands by one point as they defend their seventh place and if Oxted lose or draw, only a Brooklands win would see them slip to eighth as they have a twenty better goal difference than Brooklands if they finished level on points.