Men’s Hockey League Preview – 26 March 2022
Old Georgians can clinch their first league title with a home win over reigning champions Surbiton on Saturday night. Surbiton’s defence was ended when Old Georgians won 4-1 at Hampstead & Westminster last weekend to ensure that Surbiton couldn’t catch their fellow Elmbridge club. Old Georgians have already beaten Surbiton twice, 2-0 at home and 5-1 at Sugden Road when the international players were not available so will be confident of finishing the job, having already qualified for the Euro Hockey League for the first time.
Wimbledon trail by ten points and will try and keep the battle for the title alive by beating East Grinstead for the third time this season. On their last visit to West Sussex in November, Wimbledon won 4-2 but East Grinstead made Wimbledon work for the win in the return in South West London before going down 2-1 in February. East Grinstead will also be rebounding from the 9-1 mauling they received at Surbiton last Sunday.
Wimbledon, Surbiton and Hampstead & Westminster will realistically be fighting it out for the second European place with Wimbledon on 35, Surbiton on 32 and Hampstead on 29. An Old Georgians win plus a Wimbledon victory will make it difficult for Surbiton to qualify for Europe, but Hampstead will not give up hope when they travel to Holcombe. Sadly, their last scheduled meeting in London was postponed and awarded as a 5-0 win to Hampstead due to Holcombe’s goalkeeper issues, but in Phase One, the teams battled to a 2-2 draw also in London so a close encounter can be anticipated although both teams will be recovering from heavy defeats: Hampstead, 4-1 to Old Georgians and Holcombe, 5-1 at Wimbledon.
In the Bottom 5, with England Hockey having announced that only one team will be relegated from the Premier Division, the relegation battle is set between the University of Exeter and Durham University. Both teams trail Brooklands Manchester University by nine points with just three games to play, with Brooklands having a bye week this weekend.
Exeter moved off the bottom of the table on goal difference above Durham thanks to their 3-1 home win over the Northern club. Exeter have a 27 better goal difference than their relegation rivals and travel to Oxted on Saturday where they have lost on their previous two trips to Surrey. Oxted hold a one point lead over seventh placed Beeston with a game in hand, helped by Beeston’s 2-1 home defeat to Brooklands Manchester University last weekend. Beeston travel to Durham University, where they lost 3-2 on Halloween, but returned the favour when Durham travelled to Nottingham in February, winning by the same scoreline.