England: England Hockey League 2023/24: Weekend 17 Review

Surbiton 2s clinched the Division One South title with a 4-1 win against Harleston Magpies. Long time leaders thanks to a 12 match winning streak, Surbiton’s form had dipped of late but they roared back against Harleston who have enjoyed a strong second half of the season. Isabelle Yonge, Imogen Davies and Charlotte Calnan gave Surbiton a three goal advantage within 18 minutes and although  Hannah de Selincourt pulled a goal back at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Amie Hunt made it safe for Surbiton. Surbiton are unable to be promoted so the race for second take on a new facet and the top two met at Holcombe where the home side went above Barnes after a 3-2 win. Deana Ritchie and Lottie Bingham put Holcombe 3-0 up but Barnes scored through Lara Tegner then equalised with seven minutes left thanks to an Aleesa Ferguson corner. Holcombe secured the crucial win thanks to Phoebe Steele who converted a corner with a minute left. Holcombe are now two points clear of Barnes who need to  beat Surbiton 2s and hope Holcombe slip up at home to Wimbledon 2s next weekend. At the other end of the table Southgate made themselves safe and saw Team Bath Buccaneers relegated after a 3-1 win in Bath. Ninth placed Canterbury drew 1-1 at Slough and trail Wimbledon 2s by a point after they lost  2-1 at Sevenoaks. Canterbury host Southgate this Sunday.

In Division One North champions Sutton Coldfield beat Swansea 2-0 to mean the Welsh team are relegated. Wakefield took a big step to avoid joining them thanks to a 3-1 win against Gloucester City. Emma Waud’s 42nd minute opener for Wakefield was cancelled out five minutes later by Emily Rogers, only for Laura Timms to restore the lead within a minute. Erin Minton-Branfoot scored with seven minutes to go to give Wakefield the points and mean they lead Stourport by two points after they fell to a 5-0 defeat at home to Durham University. Wakefield travel to Olton and Stourport host Leicester City this Saturday. Olton gained an important point in a 0-0 draw with  Buckingham to mena they lead Stourport by three with a +8 superior goal difference.

A 5-0 win over relegated Ipswich mean that Guildford take the Conference East title. Charlotte Barr and Megan Phillips both scored twice and Robyn Bentley the fifth. Second placed London Wayfarers were held 2-2 by Old Georgians meaning an insurmountable seven-point gap. Elsewhere Teddington won 3-2 at East London, relegated Horsham drew 3-3 with Old Loughtonians and Hampstead & Westminster 2s beat Spencer 2-0.

The battle for the Conference Midlands title will go down the last day as all three title contenders won on Saturday. Leaders Repton won 2-0 at Oxford University thanks to two Pauline Scherrer goals, the result means the Dark Blues are relegated. St Albans trail Repton by a point after their 3-1 win over Beford. Cambridge City are a point further back and kept their hopes alive with a 3-2 win against Beeston 2s. This Saturday Repton make the short trip to Cannock, Cambridge are at Doncaster and St Albans at Beeston 2s. Cannock drew 4-4 with relegated Belper on Saturday and Birmingham University 2s beat Doncaster 4-2.

Champions Pendle Forest won 3-1 at Bowdon 2s in Conference North where the only outstanding issue is who will join Brooklands Poynton in being relegated. Timperley gave themselves a lifeline with a 2-0 win at Fylde and they trail Harrogate by three points but with a superior goal difference. Harrogate lost 4-1 at Durham University 2s who will host Timperley this Saturday whilst Harrogate play Bowdon 2s. Elsewhere Leeds won 3-0 at Didsbury Northern and Brooklands Poynton and Newcastle University drew 1-1.

Bristol Firebrands claimed the Conference West crown with a 4-3 win against Exeter. In a ding-dong game Eleanor Brooks gave Exeter the lead early in the second quarter but  Anna Elson quickly equalised and Lizzie Cook scored twice to give Firebrands a 3-1 half time lead. Anna Mae Morton made it 3-2 before Maria Andrews restored the two-goal advantage. Katrina Tucker pulled it back to 4-3 with six minutes to go but Firebrands held on. Clifton Robinsons 2s needed to win and Firebrands to slip up to be able to catch them but their 5-2 win at Trojans only secured the runners up spot. Relegated Fareham drew 2-2 with Cheltenham, Basingstoke who are also down lost 2-0 at Oxford Hawks and  Reading 2s beat Witney 6-1 including a hat-trick for Sophie Clark.

Division One South champions Richmond enjoyed a 5-4 win over Old Loughtonians to stay 10 points clear of Teddington who won 7-1 at relegated Brighton & Hove. Elsewhere the games saw teams battling to avoid joining Brighton. Havant and Sevenoaks drew 3-3 and Team Bath Buccaneers picked up a point from the same scoreline at home to Exeter University. This left Old Cranleighan needing a win against Canterbury to jump out of the bottom two but a 4-1 reverse means they trail  Bath by two points and Havant and Sevenoaks by three. Bath host Brighton this Sunday, Havant travel to Exeter whilst Cranleighans play Sevenoaks but with an eight goal worse goal difference look like they need a miracle to avoid the drop.

In Division One North it was all about playing for pride with Bowdon already confirmed as champions and Cambridge City and Leeds relegated. There was no let up by Bowdon who won 6-2 at Olton & West Warwicks whilst Loughborough Students will take second place after their 4-1 defeat of Deeside Ramblers.  Brooklands MU have fallen away in the second half of the season but were in free-scoring mode on Sunday beating Cambridge 12-2, including a hat-trick for Peter Flanagan. Jack Fletcher all hit three for Leeds who drew 4-4 at Birmingham University  and Durham University beat Harborne 5-3.

Indian Gymkhana were crowned Conference East champions after beating their nearest rivals London Wayfarers 4-0. Ajaz Ahmad, Amraj Soor and  Muhammad Hammadu Anjum (2), scored the goals to give them a win and an unassailable five point lead at the top of the table. Cameron Baker hit a hat trick for Guildford whose 6-1 at Ipswich condemned the hosts to relegation. Broley & Beckenham made themselves safe with a 3-0 win over Surbiton 2s whilst Old Georgians 2s 2-1 win over Wimbledon 2s mean the stay ninth but now trial Wimbledon by three points with a superior goal difference. OGs travel to London Wayfarers and Wimbledon to Surbiton on Sunday. In mid-table Spencer beat Hampstead & Westminster 2s  4-1.

Nottingham University 2s still lead Conference Midlands by three points after holding off a challenge from lowly Bedford to win 3-2.   Goals from Vivek Dongha, Ben Shardlow and Joshua Biddlecombe gave Nottingham a 3-0 lead after half an hour, two Tom Blythman goals gave Bedford hope but they were unable to find a third. With their nearest rivals to avoid the drop  Banbury winning 4-1 at St Albans it means Bedford are relegated along with City of Peterborough, who also fought valiantly, but lost 4-3 at Stourport where Leo Delves hit a 70th minute corner to win the game. Bedford’s loss means Birmingham University 2s and Harleston Magpies are also safe despite 4-3 and 5-4 defeats to Norwich City and Barford Tigers respectively, Myles King scored three for Magpies as did  Charlie Wolff for the students both bettered by a four timer from Barford’s Michael Taylor.   At the top of the table Stourport who host St Albans next Sunday, trail Nottingham, who travel to Peterborough by three points. If Nottingham take the title they will only be promoted if their 1s avoid relegation.

Lindum march on in Conference North and an 8-0 win at Brooklands MU 2s leaves them needing just a point from their trip to Wakefield on Saturday to take the title. Timperley and Doncaster are three points back after big wins too. Timperley won 5-0 at Wakefield and Doncaster 7-3 against Ben Rhydding. They meet this Sunday but whereas Timperley have a superior goal difference to Lindum, Doncaster’s is significantly lower and a win for the Cheshire side would leave them hoping  for a surprise at Wakefield. At the other end of the table two goals in the last 10 minutes saw Sheffield beat Beeston 2s and leapfrog them from ninth to eighth with a point advantage. William Wycherley hit a hat trick for Oxton in a 6-1 win at relegated Belper to move up a place to seventh, three ahead of Beeston.  Beeston will be looking for a big score against Belper on Sunday and hope Sheffield fail to beat Ben Rhydding or that they can make up +15 goal difference on Oxton if they lost at Brooklands MU 2s.

Champions Bristol University beat Exeter University 2s to keep a 10 point lead at the top of the table. Oxford Hawks stay a point ahead of Isca in second after they both won. Hawks a narrow 2-1 win over Fareham, Isca beating relegated Plymouth Marjon 10-1 with Cuthbert Shepherd going nap and Jonathan Wright netting three. Clifton Robinsons won 3-1 at Chichester whilst the relegation battle between Cheltenham and  Ashmoor went the way of the Gloucestershire who won 4-3 having trailed 2-0 after 15 minutes to go to 3-2 up with a 54th minute goal from Luke Cole. A 68th minute goal  for Morgan Powell-Jones looked to have made things safe for Cheltenham but a Richard Fisher stroke just second later gave Ashmoor hope but they couldn’t find an equaliser.  Cheltenham are now two points clear of Ashmoor and need a win against Exeter 2s to be sure to stay up; a draw would not be enough if Ashmoor beat Chichester as they have a superior goal difference.

by England Hockeyl

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