England: England Hockey League 2023/24: Premier Division Opening Weekend Review

Holcombe ended the opening weekend in the Men’s Premier Division as early table toppers after a dominant 4-0 home win over Reading.

The Medway side kept the only clean sheet of the weekend as a Phil Roper double, coupled with goals from Nick Bandurak and Tim Guise-Brown, handed Barry Middleton’s side, last season’s runners-up, the perfect start.

Southgate also scored four, this time on the road at fellow Premier Division promotion side Cardiff & Met in a 4-1 victory played out in front of around 600 supporters in the Welsh capital.

Southgate’s last away day victory in the Premier Division also came courtesy of a 4-1 success nine years ago. On Saturday, Cardiff’s Alf Dinnie, with the first goal scored by a Welsh club in the Premier Division, cancelled out an early Archie Foster strike before the visitors ran through the gears.

There was a debut goal for Will Calnan, in the 41st minute, while player/coach Kwan Browne scored two minutes later and Daniel West made the game safe amidst a second-half littered with green and yellow cards.

“For the club and Welsh hockey it was a really good event,” said upbeat Cardiff & met coach Walid Abdo. 

“I’m proud of the way we played for our first outing and am looking forward to the next few weeks. It’s going to be a steep learning curve but I’m confident we can cope at this level.”

Two Oxted 15-year-olds stood up to Premier Division demands after combining brilliantly in their thrilling 3-2 away win at local rivals East Grinstead.

Oxted have now won both their matches at East Grinstead on the opening day, with Owen Williamson also scoring in both.

Williamson scored Oxted’s opener in the 10th minute before 15-year-old Isaac Dale finished a one-on-one to double their lead. Oliver Bennett, also 15, had initially started the move after calmly carrying out from defence.

Isaac Farrant pulled one back for the hosts before player/coach Nick Giles kept Oxted’s two-goal cushion and EG’s Archie Phillips set up a tense finale. Oxted then managed to keep out late corner chances, including clearing off the line in front of a bumper crowd at Saint Hill.

Meanwhile, there were title statement wins from Premier Division big hitters Surbiton, Wimbledon and champions Old Georgians.

Sam Ward netted a double as Old Georgians won 4-1 at University of Nottingham on opening day for the second season running, the England and GB international adding to his six-goal haul last term.

Tom Carson also scored a brace for the 2022/23 champions, with Louis Tipper netting for Nottingham as the hosts levelled at 1-1.

Surbiton maintained their dominant home record against Hampstead & Westminster with a 5-2 victory. It was a tale of the penalty corner, with six of the seven goals coming from the set piece.

Surbiton’s Tim Nurse opened the scoring in the 13th minute, before Matt Guise-Brown equalised four minutes later. Struan Walker then struck twice for the hosts, interspersed by a debut goal from Sam Apoola for the visitors in the 45th minute. 

But two PC strikes from Luke Taylor and Gareth Furlong late on secured the points for Mark Pearn’s side.

London rivals Wimbledon also scored five as Karl Stagno’s side kept up their dominant home form over Beeston.

Ed Horler started and finished Wimbledon’s goal spree afternoon in a 5-2 victory, with Rhys Bradshaw, Charlie Stubbings and Rory Patterson also getting in on the action.

*Results taken directly from GMS 

by England Hockeyl

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