England: England Hockey League 2023/24 Weekend 1 Review

In Division One South, Relegated Holcombe made the perfect start in their quest to bounce back to the Premier with a 2-1 at promoted Southgate. Corners either side of half time by Emma Bandurak and Phoebe Steele put the Kent side in the ascendancy but an Emma McIntyre goal eight minutes from time kept the home side in the game. The other promoted team, Team Bath Buccaneers faced a baptism of fire going down 6-1 at Surbiton 2s with Hannah Deinson netting a hat trick.  Last season’s runners up Sevenoaks were held at home, 2-2 by Slough. There were narrow wins for Barnes, 4-3 at Wimbledon 2s and Canterbury, coming from behind to beat Harleston Magpies 2-1 with the ageless Mel Clewlow scoring the winner from a corner.  

Relegated Buckingham also made a good start in Division One North with Lauren Thomas scoring the only goal of the game from a corner with ten minutes to go at Sutton Coldfield. It was honours even between promoted Wakefield and Ben Rhydding, the Yorkshire derby ending 1-1. In the battle of the Cities Leicester came away from Gloucester with a 3-2 win coming from 2-0 down to clinch a win in the last minute thanks to Olivia Back’s second goal of the game. Durham’s long trip back from Swansea will have been eased by a 2-0 win. Promoted Olton were the only home winners in the Division beating Midlands rivals Stourport 2-1.    

In Conference East, Teddington came out on top at Old Loughtonians in the meeting of two promoted teams.  Two goals from Molly Chesney helping them to a 2-1 win. The other newcomers Old Georgians went down 2-0 at East London. Last season’s runners up Guildford beat Hampstead & Westminster 2s 2-1. London Wayfarers defeated Spencer 3-1 in their local derby and Ipswich took the points at Horsham thanks to a 2-0 win. 

St Albans were the big winners in Conference Midlands beating Oxford University 7-1 with Georgina Hampson scoring a hat-trick of field goals. Relegated Cambridge City were also in goal scoring mood winning 4-1 at Cannock with May Busher scoring two of their goals. Newcomers Repton beat local rivals Belper 2-0 and Doncaster made a good start to life in the Midlands beating Beeston 2s by the same scoreline. University of Birmingham 2s won 3-2 at Bedford who had led 2-0, thanks to a brace of corners from Megan Howlett. 

The two promoted teams in Conference North, Newcastle University and Bowdon 2s played out a 2-2 draw and  Durham University 2s and Leeds also finished all square at one apiece. Last season’s runners-up Pendle Forest overcame Didsbury Northern 3-2 with Charlotte Hartley netting twice and Timperley beat Harrogate 4-2. There was a good win for Fylde at relegated Brooklands Poynton with Florencia Zapulla’s early penalty stroke the only goal of the game. 

Trojans put in a five-star performance in Conference West with a 5-0 win at Hampshire rivals Basingstoke, Charlotte Whitmore scoring two of their goals. Abi Flory was also on target twice as relegated Witney beat promoted Fareham 3-2. Exeter won by the same scoreline at Reading 2s, who twice pegged the Devon team back, before Eleanor Brooks hit the winner with four minutes left. Bristol Firebrands’ short trip up the M5 saw a 1-0 at Cheltenham and promoted Clifton Robinsons 2s were on course for a win at Oxford Hawks until Becky Hibbert scored with two minutes remaining to make it 2-2.  

Bowdon were top scorers in Division One North beating Birmingham University 5-3. Debutant Barney Bithell opened the scoring and Bowdon were never behind but the students kept in the game, including two goals for Alfie Weaver, before Jack McAuliffe’s second with five minutes to go made it safe.  Relegated Brooklands MU hosted promoted Harborne and edged out the visitors 2-1 thanks to a last minute David Flanagan goal. A Ghazanfar Ali goal was enough to give Deeside the points at Olton whilst Durham University enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over Leeds. Two Rory Penrose corners helped Loughborough Students to a 4-0 win over Cambridge City.    

Old Cranleighan got off to a great start in Division One South with a 6-2 defeat of Brighton including a hat-trick for Will Heywood and two for Jack Jamieson, Joe Naughalty scored both the visitors goals.  Promoted Richmond must have been delighted with a two goal half time lead against Sevenoaks but were pegged back by two James Beck goals, the second with just two minutes remaining. The other promoted team, Havant, also picked up a point, thanks to a late Viacheslav Paziuk equaliser that made it 3-3 against Team Bath Buccaneers.   Relegated Exeter University went down 2-1 at Canterbury, Craig Boyne netting both the home team’s goals and Old Loughtonians were beaten at home by Teddington by the same scoreline.  

Promoted Ipswich made a great start to their Conference East campaign with a 2-1 win at Bromley & Beckenham. There were also away wins for Guildford, 1-0 at newly promoted Wimbledon 2s and Surbiton 2s at another new team Old Georgians 2a. The 2-3 scoreline was repeated later by their respective 1st XIs.  Two Tom Henderson corners helped London Wayfarers to a 2-1 over Spencer whilst Indian Gymkhana and Hampstead & Westminster 2s  played out a 4-4 draw. 

In Conference Midlands, Stourport are back in the league after 12 seasons absence and they won 4-3 at Harleston Magpies. They raced into a 3-0 lead only for the home side to pull it back to 3-3 with three minutes to go before a late Simon Claris corner earned all three points. Relegated Barford Tigers went down 3-2 at Nottingham University 2s. The students were three up within 13 minutes and despite two Isaac Farmilo goals Barford were unable to get back on terms. Newcomers Banbury came from 3-1 down with five minutes to go to earn a point at City of Peterborough. It was the same scoreline at Bedford when Tom Blythman converted a 70th minute stroke to grab a point for the home team. St Albans beat Norwich City 2-1 at home. 

There were 31 goals in Conference North with promoted Lindum leading the way. They beat relegated Belper 9-0 including four corners for Matthew Parker. Timperley ran them close with an 8-0 defeat of Beeston 2s, Connor Miller and Carwyn Nash both scoring three. Eoin Cogley-Rock also netted a treble as Doncaster won 5-1 away at Brooklands MU 2s. Three goals in the last 10 minutes helped Sheffield to a 5-2 win over promoted Oxton. The Wakefield – Ben Rhydding game bucked the free scoring trend with a solitary Matt Atkinson strike earning the pints for Wakefield. 

Relegated Oxford Hawks made a good start in Conference West winning 4-1 at Plymouth Marjon with both Jack Biggs and Jack Hobbs netting braces.  Clifton Robinsons beat Ashmoor 3-0, registering the only clean sheet in the Division and there were also home wins for Isca, 4-2 over relegated Bristol University, and Fareham, 3-2 against promoted Cheltenham. Luke Emmett converted a 68th minute corner to earn Chichester a point in a 2-2 draw against Exeter University 2s for whom Finn Cooper scored both their goals. 

by England Hockeyl

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