Jade Bloomfield of Hockey World News reviews all the Premier Division action from the Week 4 Men’s Hockey League and overviews the key matchups in Division 1 and the Conferences, including the Premier Division’s first goalless draw since 2018 and a derby match that saw over 400 spectators cheering on their sides.
As expected, the league table looked very different on Saturday evening, where Wimbledon held an overnight lead and Holcombe were close behind in second after their hard-fought 5-4 victory at Reading, with England star Nick Bandurak picking up a brace for his team.
Wimbledon continued their home dominance over the University of Exeter with a comfortable 4-1 win. The University of Exeter took the lead in the 10th minute through a Jacob Payton penalty corner, scoring UoE’s first-ever Premier Division away goal against Wimbledon. Liam Ansell opened the scoring for Karl Stagno’s side in the 18th minute to restore parity before Ed Horler fired home from the penalty corner to give Wimbledon the lead going into the break. Goals from Ben Hooper (41) and Ben Francis (54) in the second half secured all three points for the hosts to keep the pressure on leaders Surbiton, now trailing by one point, with a game in hand.
Hampstead & Westminster made it three consecutive victories at Saint Hill when they met East Grinstead on Saturday evening. Johnny Fleck (15) opened the scoring for the hosts, in a lead that lasted just over 10 minutes, before Rupert Shipperley (26) put his side on level terms. A trade mark penalty corner from Matt Guise-Brown (33) and a Joylon Morgan (42) open-play goal gave the visitors all three points in West Sussex.
Sunday’s fixtures saw the first Premier Division 0-0 draw since November 2018, when Oxted were held at home by the travelling University of Nottingham.
On their last visit to Manchester, Surbiton beat Brooklands Manchester University by 12 goals, so they could be forgiven for going into the game with confidence. Louis Gittens set Surbiton on their way in the 20th minute in a match that ebbed and flowed throughout. David Flanagan (26) equalising before Gareth Furlong (39) restored Surbiton’s lead from the penalty corner. Louis Gittens (48) was on hand again to extend the lead before Stefan Ray-Hills (51) reduced the deficit to one. Another Gareth Furlong penalty corner restored Surbiton’s two-goal lead in the 55th minute before Daniel Vincent fired home two minutes later for the home side, 3-4 and all to play for with time running out. Surbiton held on to their lead and all three points to take them back to the top of the table.
Surbiton’s closest rivals, Old Georgians, travelled to the Nottingham Hockey Centre looking to make it four wins from four against Beeston in the Premier Divison. Wasting no time stamping their authority on the game, Sam Ward stepped up in the 6th minute to fire home from a penalty corner to give the Dragons the lead. Chris Griffiths (26) and James Albery (32) were on hand before halftime to extend the lead further. Sam Ward (57) scored his second, with James Tindall (64) rounding off the reigning champions’ scoring.
In Division 1 North, the Loughborough Students made the most significant impact as they beat Bowdon, last week’s division leaders, by four goals to one. Climbing the table into second place, the Students sent their opponents tumbling from first to fifth. Cardiff & Met took full advantage of Bowdon’s slip and moved to the top of the table after a 2-7 victory at the University of Birmingham.
Division 1 South saw the free-scoring Southgate continue their supreme run in the league. With 17 goals in their first three games, Southgate were again at their ruthless best, adding another seven to their tally against the Oxford Hawks.
In the conferences, Richmond topped the Conference East on goal difference over Guildford after hitting seven past 3rd places Surbiton 2‘s.
Lichfield picked up their first points of the season, in the Conference Midlands, with a 5-3 win over bottom-side Loughborough Town.
Leeds climbed one place in the Conference North with a 4-1 win over Didsbury Northern, moving them into first place, after leaders Ben Rhydding fell 2-1 at the hands of Sheffield Hallam. Whilst in the Conference West, all eyes were on the Hampshire derby as Havant lined up against arch-rivals Fareham in a 1-1draw that was, reportedly, played out in front of a 400-strong crowd.
See the England Hockey League Men’s section for full results and tables from across the country. Look out for the video highlights coming soon.