Men’s Hockey League Premier Division Review – 23 April 2022
Wimbledon joined Old Georgians in Europe next season after they ended Old Georgians’ unbeaten home record, in their final match of the season at St George’s College. Whilst the University of Exeter maintained their top flight status in an eight goal thriller at Brooklands Manchester University.
David Condon gave Wimbledon the lead on the half hour mark from open play before Liam Ansell doubled their lead from a 43rd minute penalty corner. Sam Ward pulled a goal back for Old Georgians from the penalty spot four minutes later, only for Ben Arnold, on his last appearance for Wimbledon to restore the visitors’ two goal lead from open play in the 52nd minute. Ward converted a penalty corner in the final minute but it wasn’t enough to prevent Old Georgians from losing at home for the first time since February 23, 2020, when Hampstead & Westminster won 3-1. Ward joined Wimbledon’s Ed Horler on 20 goals for the season.
Hampstead & Westminster were Surbiton’s opponents at Paddington Recreation Ground, where Surbiton’s 4-2 victory proved to be in vain. The Men’s Hockey League Premier Division’s leading goalscorer with 21 goals, Hampstead’s Matt Guise-Brown was unavailable as he was selected to play for South Africa in their FIH Pro League matches in Argentina.
Hampstead fell behind in the fourth minute as James Gall converted a Surbiton penalty corner, with Alex Williams giving the visitors a 2-0 half time lead courtesy of his 24th minute open play goal. Ben Boon also scored from open play in the 39th minute to open up a 3-0 lead, only for Rhodri Furlong to reply from open play in the 44th minute. Luke Taylor restored Surbiton’s three goal advantage from a penalty corner within a minute to join Matt Guise-Brown on 21 goals. Sam French’s consolation goal in the penultimate minute ensured the game finished 4-2 to Surbiton who ended the season in third, two points behind Wimbledon.
Fifth placed Holcombe had faint hopes of pipping Hampstead to fourth place on goal difference, but tried their hardest in running out 7-4 home winners over East Grinstead. Holcombe led 4-2 at half time, Dan Edwards and East Grinstead’s Finlay Boothroyd exchanging penalty corners in the 16th and 20th minutes respectively before Luke Holland gave the West Sussex club a 2-1 lead from a 26th minute penalty corner. Jake Owen levelled for Holcombe two minutes later and then put Holcombe back ahead in the 33rd minute from open play, with Tim Guise-Brown converting another penalty corner on the stroke of half time.
The goal fest continued in the second half, Craig Wild extending Holcombe’s lead to 5-2 from yet another PC in the 58th minute, only for East Grinstead to fight back to 5-4 with Jarryd Jones scoring on the hour mark and Holland netting in the 62nd minute, both goals coming from open play. Holcombe killed off the match, Greg Nolan scoring from open play with seven minutes remaining and Tim Guise-Brown converting another penalty corner in the 69th minute to complete a thrilling 7-4 victory.
There was also a goal fest at Brooklands Manchester University where the University of Exeter preserved their top flight status with a 6-2 win. Brooklands had also lost 6-2 at home to Oxted in March and Exeter avenged their 2-1 defeat at the same venue in only their second match of the season.
The game was competitive in the first half as the teams were locked a 2-2 at the break, Felix Tully putting Brooklands ahead in the fourth minute from open play, only for Exeter to lead 2-1 with Rhys Bradshaw and Max Lowrey converting penalty corners in the 12th and 23rd minutes. Andrew Rushbridge equalised in the 34th minute from open play, but Exeter proved dominant after half time.
Billy Collins and Elliot Sanderson struck from open play in the 44th and 45th minutes to put Brooklands on the back foot and further open play efforts from Louis Ridge in the 53rd minute and Nick Nurse in the 66th, ensured that Exeter would spend another season in the top flight.
The result meant that even if Durham University won, they would still be relegated, but Oxted won 4-1 to finish four points ahead of Brooklands in seventh. Again honours were even at half time, Alex Blumfield putting Oxted ahead from a 27th minute penalty corner, only for Joe Morton to level from open play four minutes later. Sam Driver put Oxted back in front in the 44th minute, but just as in the first meeting in October, Oxted scored twice late in the match, Mark Galloway, like Driver and Peter Friend, making his last appearance in an Oxted shirt, scoring in the 67th minute and Jordan Turnbull adding the fourth two minutes later, all three second half goals coming from open play.
The final positions from seventh to eleventh saw the teams uniquely all separated by four point gaps with Beeston, whose ninth place was guaranteed after they completed their fixtures last week finishing four points behind Brooklands, tenth placed Exeter four points behind Beeston and Durham ending up four points adrift of Exeter.
|4||Hampstead & Westminster||20||10||2||8||54||46||8||32|
|4||University of Exeter||18||4||2||12||46||57||-11||14|