Men’s Hockey League Preview – 26/27 February 2022
For the second week running, it’s first versus second as Old Georgians are away to their new challengers, Wimbledon, on Sunday afternoon. Having seen off Surbiton last week with a convincing 5-1 victory, Old Georgians will want to make amends for the only blip on their perfect season record, a 2-0 loss at Raynes Park High School back in October.
Wimbledon can reduce Old Georgians’ lead to two points if they lower their colours for the second time this season, but if Wimbledon slip up, Hampstead & Westminster will be aiming to replace them in second with a win at Surbiton under the Sugden Road floodlights on Saturday night.
Hampstead’s historic victory at Sugden Road in November, when they won 2-1 to record their first ever Premier Division win away to Surbiton in a long run starting in 2001-02, was the catalyst for Surbiton’s dip in form which has seen them win one out of their last five matches: a 2-1 win at East Grinstead, in between losing to Old Georgians home and away, Hampstead at home and earning a last gasp point at home to Wimbledon, all after winning their first seven matches of the campaign.
Holcombe, forced to concede their match at Hampstead last weekend, travel to East Grinstead, where they haven’t won since 2016. East Grinstead are playing catch up after sneaking into the Top 6 by pipping near rivals Oxted and are likely to finish in sixth place unless they can close the twelve point gap between themselves and Holcombe, starting with a win on Sunday. Holcombe are six points off second place, but will want to put last weekend’s setback behind them.
In the Bottom 5…
Oxted go into their first bye week in relative safety, nine points above the relegation zone. Brooklands Manchester University, currently in the upper relegation place, will want to move above Durham University when they visit on Sunday. On the opening day of the season, Durham beat Brooklands to record their first ever Premier Division victory, and will be keen to repeat the feat in the rematch to stave off the threat of relegation.
The result in Durham will also have an effect on the University of Exeter’s chances of avoiding the drop. Only having one point this season, earned in a 3-3 home draw with Durham, Exeter’s task was made harder last week when they lost 4-3 at home to Oxted. Exeter travel to Beeston, where they lost 3-1 in November in Phase One and are currently six points behind both Brooklands and Durham, a gap which will increase if they fail to take a point back to Devon.