Men’s Hockey League Premier Division Preview
20/21 November 2021
Leaders Wimbledon and second placed Surbiton meet at Sugden Road on Saturday night in what could prove to be a key game in deciding which team finishes top at the end of the first half of the season. Hampstead & Westminster threw a spanner into the works last Saturday when they won 2-1 at Surbiton, which allowed Wimbledon to go three points clear of Surbiton, having played a game more, when they beat Brooklands Manchester University 7-0 in South London.
A win for Wimbledon in their final game before the season break would mean they finish above Surbiton and open the way for third placed Old Georgians to become Wimbledon’s nearest challengers if they won at Brooklands on Sunday. Hampstead, who followed up the win over Surbiton with a 4-0 home win over the University of Durham, were scheduled to have their bye week this weekend, but travel problems a few weeks ago means that they also travel to Brooklands on Saturday for the rearranged game, knowing that a victory would bring them back into the mix after a couple of setbacks in earlier weeks.
Wins for Surbiton and Old Georgians would leave them level on points with Wimbledon and set up a first half title decider for Surbiton at Old Georgians next weekend.
Fifth placed Holcombe are all but guaranteed of a place in the top six and host sixth placed Oxted, currently holding a four point cushion, but looking over their shoulders at Brooklands and the University of Durham as well as Beeston, who are five points behind. Holcombe and Oxted used to meet regularly in the Conference East at one time, but Holcombe won 3-1 at Oxted in last season’s prematurely ended Premier Division campaign.
Beeston really need to win both of their last two games if they are going to have a chance of sneaking into the top six and they should boost their chances with a home win over the University of Exeter. Exeter have lost their last 16 top flight games, but can raise their game when needed, only going down 4-3 at Hampstead & Westminster after leading 3-1 due to Hampstead’s determination. Beeston have lost at the University of Durham but gained a home point against Hampstead, so have shown inconsistency.
East Grinstead finally got a much needed win at the University of Exeter last week and although their chances of a top six finish have virtually gone, they have two games to set themselves up for a better second half of the season. They make the long trip to the University of Durham where the home side have beaten Brooklands and Beeston and held Surbiton scoreless for three quarters before going down 3-0. Oxted only came away from Durham with all three points following another fourth quarter comeback, so East Grinstead may have to battle to get a positive result.