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Men’s Hockey League Preview – 28 November 2021
On the final day of the season, Old Georgians welcome Surbiton to the liar in a top of the table clash to decide which team will finish in first place after the first phase of the Premier Division season and Beeston, East Grinstead and Oxted are all battling for the sixth and final qualification place.
Last Saturday, Wimbledon saw their hopes of finishing top ended after Surbiton came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to Wimbledon in the visitors’ final match of the season. If Old Georgians or Surbiton win, they will overtake Wimbledon: Old Georgians by two points; Surbiton on goal difference. If the match ends in a draw, Old Georgians will overtake Wimbledon on goal difference.
Having won their first seven games, Surbiton came close to losing two in succession against both their London rivals and now make the short trip within Elmbridge to take on an Old Georgians team which has only lost to Wimbledon in nine games this season.
Hampstead & Westminster could move up to third if Surbiton lose and Hampstead win at Oxted. Having won three of their first five matches, Oxted have only taken a point from the last four and will be looking over their shoulders as they aim to defend the coveted sixth place.
The two teams immediately behind them, Beeston and East Grinstead meet in West Sussex. East Grinstead have undergone a renaissance, winning their last two games to give them a shot at a top six place. Beeston may have reason to rue their 3-2 loss at the University of Durham, a 3-1 home win over bottom team, University of Exeter ending a run of three successive league defeats. If Oxted lose to Hampstead, either East Grinstead or Beeston will need to win to qualify, a draw will not be enough for Beeston.
Whatever their result at Brooklands Manchester University, Holcombe are guaranteed to finish fifth. Brooklands have had a nightmare over the last two weeks, losing their last three games whilst failing to score and conceding twenty goals. As a result, Brooklands have dropped to tenth place, level with the University of Durham. In contrast, Holcombe have won their last four, including a 4-0 home win over Oxted last Sunday.
The University of Exeter aim for a win at the 18th attempt when they host the University of Durham on Sunday. Exeter have lost their last 17 games, the most frustrating defeat coming at Hampstead & Westminster where they lost 4-3 after leading 3-1 following Hampstead’s fourth quarter comeback. Durham won their first ever top flight matches this season, at home to Brooklands and to Beeston and will be hoping to make more history by winning their first ever away game in the Premier Division.
There are two rearranged league games below the Premier Division on Sunday. In Division One North, Sheffield Hallam are at home to the University of Birmingham. Both teams are in the lower half of the table. Sheffield Hallam have drawn one and lost two at home this season and will stay ninth, even if they win. Birmingham won at the City of Peterborough and drew at Cambridge City and a win would move them up to sixth.
In the Conference North, Doncaster can overtake Didsbury Northern in third on goal difference if they beat Preston, who would move up to fifth, above Leeds if they get at least a point. Doncaster are unbeaten at home, although they have been held to 1-1 draws twice. Preston have only lost once away, at Belper, and have won twice, at Alderley Edge and Didsbury Northern, and drawn at University of Durham 2s.