It was hattricks aplenty in week 10 of the England Hockey Leagues. With the final two game days of phase one of the 2022/23 season upon us, Jade Bloomfield of Hockey World News previews the weekend’s action, including a mega clash in the Men’s Hockey League and a ‘must win’ in the Vitality Women’s Hockey League.
For full fixtures and league tables, visit the England Hockey League pages here.
MEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE
All eyes were on Sugden Road as the league leaders and Champions, Old Georgians, came to town in a top-of-the-table battle.
Having won 5-1 the last time the two sides met, Old Georgians made it five consecutive victories over their closest challengers in the league. Ed Carson gave the visitors the lead in the 12 minutes before Luis Gittens restored parity two minutes later. A penalty corner goal from Henry Weir (35) just before halftime proved the decisive goal as the Old Georgians defence stood firm against the Surbiton onslaught.
Oxted‘s chances of making the top six were taken out of their hands when they travelled to the Paddington Recreational Ground to face Hampstead & Westminster. Sam French’s hattrick (8, 45-PC, 55-PC) and a Josh Kelly (12) goal gave the hosts a comfortable win to stay in contention in the chasing pack at the league’s top. Cameron Heald with Oxted’s only goal will be looking ahead to a must-win encounter with East Grinstead on the final day of Phase 1.
East Grinstead are having a season to forget and will be looking forward to the winter break, where they can regroup and take stock ready for Phase 2.
Welcoming the University of Nottingham to Saint Hill for the first time, with both sides struggling for points, the University side came out on top with their biggest win in the Premier Division. Charlie Axford gave Nottingham the lead with a fourth-minute penalty corner before Simon Faulkner converted one of his own six minutes later. Connor Williamson gave Nottingham the lead going into halftime with a 27th-minute penalty stroke, a lead that was extended further through penalty corner goals from Isaac Farrant (37) and Louis Tipper (52) to give their side all three points.
At the foot of the table, Brooklands Manchester University welcomed Wimbledon to the North West, where the visitors improved their streak in Manchester to one loss in eight. David Flanagan (16, 31) gave the home side hope with two first-half goals after Peter Scott gave Wimbledon the lead. However, the visitors produced ten minutes in the second half that turned the game out of reach for the Manchester side. A three-minute Sam Hooper (50-PC, 53-PC) double and a 60th Liam Ansell Penalty Corner gave Wimbledon all three points and a happier journey back South.
Gareth Griffiths was the killjoy of the Bandurak celebrations in Nottingham, as a 70th-minute penalty corner drew the scores level. Holcombe‘s Nick Bandurak scored his 200th goal for his club with his second hattrick of the season (22-PS, 24-PC, 59-PS). Oliver Ashdown (51) and Henry Croft (65) were also on the scoresheet for Beeston.
Reading put a top sixth finish in their own hands, going into the last matchday of Phase 1, with a dominating win over the University of Exeter. Tom Minall scored his first, on the way to a hattrick, in the first-minute play, before adding to his tally in the 64th and 66th minutes. Fred Newbold (22) and Harrison Smith (53) completed the Reading scoring, while a 25-minute Joshua Moran penalty corner was the only mark on the Exeter scoresheet
VITALITY WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE
Surbiton ensured they would go into the winter break at the top of the table with a dominating performance against the University of Birmingham.
Still looking for their first win at Sugden Road, Birmingham were put to the sword in the first half as Sophie Hamilton and her Surbiton teammates powered through the visitor’s defence with ease. Hannah Martin opened the floodgates in the 16th minute before Sophie Hamilton (20, 25, 26) hit a six-minute hattrick. Meg Dowthwaite rounded off the scoring two minutes later.
Second-placed Wimbledon had a 50th-minute Hollie Pearn-Webb penalty stroke to thank as they secured their first home win against East Grinstead.
Taking advantage of Wimbledon’s win, Hampstead & Westminster moved into third place in the table, two points clear of East Grinstead after a comfortable 5-1 victory over Clifton Robinsons.
A hattrick of penalty corners from Grace Balsdon (7, 13, 23) and goals from Melanie Wilkinson (10-PC) and Holly Hunt (50) were more than enough to send Clifton Robinsons into a 6th place battle on the final weekend of Phase 1. Amy Burton (37) was on the scoresheet for the visiting side.
Beeston confirmed their place in the top six with a last-minute winner from Lauren Burrell (69), and in doing so, has forced Loughborough Students into a final day battle for the valuable 6th place finish to phase 1. Ellie Mackenzie gave the Students a great start with a 16th-minute goal that they held until the halftime break. Whatever Beeston Coach James Sordillo said at halftime worked wonders, as Lucy Millington (36) immediately drew her Beeston side level in the second half before Burrell secured the win.
Goals on the whistle and a flurry of cards in between was the order of the day as Reading travelled to Buckingham. Madeleine Newlyn gave Buckingham the perfect start with a first-minute goal for the hosts. A lead they held until the stroke of halftime when Jen Crossley equalised for Reading on the 35th, and Lucienne Daman won the game for the visitors in the 69 minute.
University of Nottingham and Holcombe traded goals at the Nottingham Hockey Centre as both sides look to improve on a tough first half to the season. The 3-3 draw means that the University of Nottingham still hopes to finish as the best of the rest going into Phase 2 of the Premier Division. Goals from Jordan Homann (11), Katie Curtis (48-PC) & Maddie Axford (54) for Nottingham, Alice Huddleston (3), Sofia Viarengo (33) and Tania Escaich (67) on the scoresheet for Holcombe.