Men's England Hockey League

Niall Stott East Grinstead vs Surbiton EHL 2011
There were some big wins on the opening day of the Men’s EHL which saw teams signal their intent for the coming season, whilst others fell short of expectation.

Adam Dixon in action for Beeston in the Men's England Hockey League (EHL)In the Premier Division, champions Beeston started their campaign with a convincing victory over Surbiton at Highfields Sports Club. After a busy summer with England, Adam Dixon (right) opened the scoring for the Bees in the second minute to earn his side a one goal lead at the half. David Ames and Carl Smith added goals for the home side before James Tindall pulled a goal back for Surbiton. Smith’s second rounded the scoring in the closing minutes for a 4-1 win. East Grinstead, eager to regain the champions’ title, saw off newly promoted Southgate 3-0, with two in the last five minutes from Darren Cheesman and Rick Gay. Danny Hall had opened the scoring shortly before half-time to set the Sussex side on their way to victory.

A revamped Hampstead & Westminster side hosted Cannock but the Londoners suffered defeat. David Harris and Arjan Drayton Chana’s second half goals for Cannock earned their side the points. University of Exeter, who returned to the Premier Division after a season in the Conference West, caused – perhaps – the greatest upset on the first day by securing three points in a 3-2 triumph over Reading. John Sterlini’s goals bookended Jame’s Royce’s 27th minute strike for Exeter which put them into a 3-1 lead shortly before the end. Reading’s Richard Mantell added his second in the 68th minute to create a grandstand finish, but his side were unable to score that vital goal.  Loughborough Students travelled to Bowdon and had new recruit Sam Ward’s two goals to thank for the win after George Torry had opened the scoring for the visitors. Simon Egerton’s last minute finish, which added to Mark Daniel’s goal, fell short of earning Bowdon a share of the spoils as the score ended 3-2.

Doncaster’s 7-2 victory over Belper, in Conference North, would arguably have been the highest scoring fixture in any other week, but the fixture was outscored by Sheffield Hallam’s 7-4 win over Deeside Ramblers. Sheffield’s goals came from six different scorers which included Phil Roper’s brace. Doncaster equalled that feat with David Brogden netting twice, the score could have included a further goal had Joe Morrison not missed his penalty stroke. Brooklands MU began their campaign to earn promotion back to the Premier Division with a 3-0 win over Preston, player/coach John Bell opening the scoring.

Local rivals Fareham and Havant both got off to 5-0 starts in Conference West against Bournville and Cheltenham respectively. Fareham’s James Seager scored twice in the first ten minutes to set up their victory whilst Havant’s new arrival Sumeet Singh scored two goals in three minutes, shortly before half-time, in their win. Lichfield’s Martin Webb grabbed a brace beat as they beat local rivals University of Birmingham 3-1 in their first game back in the EHL. Though Tim Davenport gave Team Bath Buccaneers the lead in the 6th minute, Joe Naughalty and Simon Miles’ goals secured the three points for Whitchurch as Team Bath Buccaneers suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat. Cardiff & UWIC’s first game back in the EHL ended with a 2-0 win over Guildford.

Canterbury made their case as early season contenders with a 6-2 win over newly promoted City of Peterborough in Conference East; Michael Farrer led his side’s scoring with three. Teddington’s re-introduction to the EHL resulted in defeat at the hands of Indian Gymkhana, 3-2, with Harjeet Singh scoring twice for the victors. Holcombe’s newly assembled squad faltered at Harleston Magpies where Ben Wright’s hat-trick earned a 3-2 victory for the Norfolk club. Wimbledon was held to a 2-2 draw by Bromley and Beckenham where Harrison Sellers’ 69th minute equaliser for Bromley & Beckenham cancelled out England & GB international Ben Hawes potential winner. On Saturday, Oxted lost 4-2 at home against Old Loughtonians with Paul Nicholls scoring twice for the visitors.

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