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With the Men’s EHL Conferences already on winter break it’s left to the Premier Division sides this Sunday with just the five fixtures in the Men’s England Hockey League.

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It’s all getting quite tight in the battle for the top five and place in the end of season EHL Championships.  Just two points separates second placed Cannock, who leapfrogged Beeston last weekend, from fifth placed Reading.  As a result, any one of four sides could go into the indoor season as the nearest challenger to leaders East Grinstead.

Southgate showed last weekend that points can be taken from the table toppers, who this weekend host Loughborough Students in Sussex.  Despite the 0-0 draw, East Grinstead won’t be panicking as Great Britain international Iain Lewers explained this week from New Zealand, where he is with the GB team ahead of the Champions Trophy. 

“Against University of Exeter and Southgate they [East Grinstead] kept clean sheets, which is something I’ve not achieved recently [when playing for East Grinsted] so that might tell you something!” said Lewers.  “It was a good win at Exeter and although they may be a little disappointed not to win against Southgate on Saturday everything is moving in the right direction.  We’ve got Loughborough Students this weekend and if EG can get some points from that game it will have been a good first half of the season.  Then we’ll turn the attention to the Maxifuel Super Sixes Championships indoors, the European club indoors and the Euro Hockey League.”

If past form counts for anything then most will expect Loughborough Students to find the going tough.  Last time out they went down 7-1.  The students go into the match off the back of a home win over bottom side Bowdon and in Sam Ward, who netted twice in the 4-2 victory they have the Premier Division’s second top scorer with eight goals. 

Cannock travel to Southgate having returned to winning ways last weekend.  Victory would see them enter the winter break second in the table.  For their part, a Southgate win would ensure they remain out of the drop zone going into the New Year, something that would be well received by the newly promoted side.  Beeston and Surbiton played out a nine goal thriller last weekend with Tim Pinnock’s winner for Surbiton coming in the dying minutes.  Despite losing, Beeston’s comeback from 4-0 down to 4-4 shows the spirit and determination in the defending Champions and they will need that in abundance for the visit of fifth placed Reading. The Berkshire side narrowly won 2-1 last time out but are without the likes of the Mantell brothers and Iain Mackay, all on international duty.  The Bees will need to beware of Andy Watts, whose hat-trick helped Reading to victory over University of Exeter last weekend.

Perhaps the most intriguing clash of the day takes place in Cheshire, where Bowdon – sitting tenth – take on University of Exeter – ninth.  Just a point separates the pair and if Southgate were to lose at home to Cannock then the winner of Bowdon v University of Exeter would climb out of the relegation zone just in time for Christmas. 

The fifth and final match in the Premier Division takes place at Hampstead & Westminster with Surbiton the visitors.  Hampstead & Westminster go into the match in seventh, just a point behind Loughborough Students and four points behind the final Championships spot, fifth. Should results go their way though, a Surbiton victory could have the Surrey side climbing to second in the table.

YouTubeThe EHB's new YouTube channel - EnglandHockeyTV - has video highlights of Men's England Hockey League matches as well as international team content, Hockey Nation information and many other great videos.  Over the coming months there will be lots more content added.  In the meantime, why not click on the link above to see for yourself.