Men’s Hockey League/ Women’s Hockey League Preview – 24 October 2020
East Grinstead can extend their lead at the top of the WHL Premier Division to six points with a home win over the University of Birmingham. East Grinstead are on a twenty game unbeaten run and Birmingham have failed to score in their last three matches, so the formbook would suggest a home win.
Second placed Loughborough are on their bye week, but will have two games in hand over East Grinstead. Wimbledon can go above Loughborough into second with a win at Beeston, but the Nottingham club will have ideas of their own about pulling away from the foot of the table.
Holcombe and Hampstead have won two and lost two of their first four matches and meet in Kent on Saturday. Holcombe have lost both their home matches and Hampstead have won both their home matches and neither club will want to lose ground in the fight for a top six place in Phase 2.
The Covid-19 situation is beginning to have an effect on hockey fixtures. The Welsh fire break has forced Swansea’s trip to Surbiton to be postponed and has deprived Clifton Robinsons of some key players before their visit to Buckingham was also postponed.
In the Men’s Hockey League, Surbiton come back from their bye week to travel to Oxted. Oxted will still be recovering from their intense battle at Old Georgians where they led 6-4 before Old Georgians recovered to win 10-6 in a record breaking encounter. Surbiton have won all four games so far, whilst Oxted have beaten the University of Exeter 2-0 and been competitive in a 2-1 loss at East Grinstead and a 3-1 home defeat by Holcombe.
Old Georgians’ victory cut Surbiton’s lead to two points but Old Georgians’ visit to Brooklands Manchester University has been postponed. A bigger threat to Surbiton is Hampstead & Westminster who trail by two points but have also played four games. Hampstead are at Holcombe where they have come away with big victories over the last two seasons. Holcombe have had the last two weeks off due to Covid-19 related postponements and will have to find some momentum quickly if they are going to make Hampstead slip up.
Wimbledon host the University of Durham. Durham suffered big defeats in their first two matches, 8-0 at Old Georgians and 6-1 at home to Surbiton but an improved performance saw them go down 3-1 at Beeston. Wimbledon opened the season with a 3-3 home draw with Beeston, but after winning 4-1 at Brooklands and 2-1 at Holcombe, were taught a lesson at home by London rivals, Hampstead, who won 4-1 before Wimbledon’s visit to the University of Exeter was postponed.
Exeter have the bye week and Beeston will want to follow up two successive 3-1 home wins over the University of Durham and Brooklands when they visit East Grinstead. Beeston and East Grinstead have had some interesting match ups over the years and recent form has been in Beeston’s favour as they have won on their last three visits to West Sussex.