With the return of hockey across all seven divisions of the Men’s National League, there were some big results and movement in the tables.
In our ‘Match of the Week’, Old Georgians welcomed Hampstead and Westminster to St Georges College, with the home side looking to maintain their 100% start to the season and keep the pressure on league leaders Surbiton. A frantic start to the match saw Alexnder Fraser pick up a green card inside the first 60 seconds, Sam Ward was on the scoresheet in the fifth, Will Calnan equalised in the sixth, and James Sutcliffe was on the naughty step in the seventh! With a goal and a card apiece, the match settled as both sides traded chances and goalscoring opportunities. The visitors found the breakthrough in the 34th minute when Stephen Kelly fired home a penalty corner to give Hampstead the halftime lead. Trailing their opponents 1-2, Ashley Jackson drew his side level from a trade-mark penalty corner in the 42nd minute of play. Proving to be the all-important goal to ensure Old Georgians maintained their unbeaten run, albeit Hampstead ending the host’s winning streak.
Leaders Surbiton hosted Reading at Sugden Road for the 23rd time in the Premier Division era. Ben Park opened the home side’s scoring in the 4th minute before Toby Heywood-Bourne levelled in the 10th. With the scores remaining 1-1 until halftime, there was a flurry of goals in the second half that separated the sides. Nick Park (40) and Gareth Furlong (42-PC) with a two-minute salvo, and Luke Taylor (48-PC) extended the lead further. Monty Neave pulled one back for Reading in the 68th minute before Taylor grabbed his second at the final whistle from a penalty corner to give the Surrey-based side a 5-2 victory.
Wimbledon moved into second place with a home win over Beeston, maintaining the results pattern in South West London of a home win followed by a score draw. With a game in hand over leaders Surbiton, Wimbledon are now the only team with a 100% record in the Premier Division.
Brooklands Manchester University and Oxted met in another nine-goal thriller that went the way of the away side, repeating the outcome when the sides met in April. Oxted raced away to a three-goal lead inside 22 minutes with goals from Chris Webster (11), Nick Giles (18) and Owen Williamson (22-PS) before Brooklands had the chance to reply. Peter Flanagan (25-PC, 28-PC, 37-PC) dragged his side back into the game with a 12-minute penalty corner hattrick before Williamson (41-PC) got his second, and Lucas Ward (43) extended the lead further two minutes later for Oxted. A flurry of cards saw the visitors go down to nine men with minutes remaining, Stefan Ray Hills (67) reducing the deficit to one, with Oxted hanging on for a vital 4-5 victory against the bottom-placed side.
Holcombe kept their resurgence going as they travelled to East Grinstead with a depleted side. Pulling in players from their second XI, Louis Parker (24), tasting Premier Division hockey for the first time, and Tim Guise-Brown (35-PC) was on the scoresheet for the visitors, who host Wimbledon in next week’s fixtures.
In the Varsity battle of the Premier Division, the University of Nottingham welcomed the University of Exeter to the Nottingham Hockey Centre. Going into the match level on points and both sides missing key players, a win for either side would see them climb into the mid-table battle. Archie Foster (23) and Isaac Forrant (30-PC) gave Nottingham a 2-0 lead in the second quarter before Jacob Poynton (34) pulled one back on the stroke of halftime. Peter Caughey (50) scored a third for Nottingham before Connor Sign (53-PC) rounded off the scoring for Exeter, who could not mount a comeback in the match’s dying minutes.
In Division One North, the five-way tie on points at the top of the division reduced to just three teams as Durham University and Bowdon fell to defeats. Cambridge City moved to third after their 1-2 win at Bowdon, leapfrogging Durham University, who fell 0-1 at home to Loughborough Students.
The top-of-the-table battle in Division One South didn’t disappoint as Old Loughtonians played hosts to table-topping Southgate. Southgate started strong, with three unanswered goals and a lead they would never relinquish through Matt Ramshaw (12), Jose Manuel Hurtado (16) and Teague Marcano(22-PC). Euan Gilmour (39) scored for the hosts before Ramshaw added his second and Southgate’s fourth to make the score 1-4, before a Harvey Edwards (42, 70-PC) brace, the second of them goals coming in the final play of the match but it was too little too late for the hosts as Southgate went home 3-4 victors.
It was a tough day at the office for Hampstead & Westminster 2‘s in the Conference East as leaders Richmond hit the bottom side for six. The city of Peterborough had their winning streak ended by Norwich City in a 1-1 draw in the Conference Midlands, Matt Porter rescuing a point for his side three minutes from time. An important win for Brooklands Manchester University 2‘s over Didsbury Northern sees them climb out of the bottom two following a 2-0 home win. Leeds cemented their place at the top of the table with a dominating 9-0 victory over Ben Rhydding.
Isca climbed to the top of the Conference East with a 2-3 away versus previous pacesetters, the University of Exeter 2‘s. A win for Chichester against Havant sees them also climb the table, pushing the University of Exeter 2’s down to third.
For a full breakdown of the league tables, visit the Men’s Hockey League section HERE
Image by Graeme Wilcockson