Clash of the titans in Men's Hockey League

Mark Pearn and Richard Mantell in action during East Grinstead versus Reading


AFTER battling out a thrilling Championship final at the end of last season, Reading and East Grinstead meet once again in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division on Sunday.

Reading fought from behind to edge out East Grinstead 5-4 in the final back in April, but East Grinstead gained some revenge a fortnight ago with a pre-season victory.

Matches between the two are always hard-fought and entertaining, and East Grinstead manager Matt Jones said: “Matches between the big five are hotly contested, and it never seems to matter who has the form at that moment.

“Reading and East Grinstead in particular have fantastic pedigree, with a great mix of experienced internationals and up and coming stars. They are a dominant side, especially at home, but the history books are always changing.”

After beating 2011-12 Championship rivals Cannock 8-2 last Saturday, Beeston will be aiming to continue their emphatic form when they take on Premier Division newcomers Canterbury at Highfields on Sunday.

Last season’s Conference North winners Brooklands Manchester University play Cannock this weekend, and will be aiming for better luck than last weekend when they lost out 4-2 at Canterbury.

Despite finishing last season next to each other in the table, Surbiton will be aiming to do the double over Loughborough Students this season, starting with Sunday’s match at Sugden Road.

Surbiton battled well and only lost 3-4 at high-flying East Grinstead last weekend, while Loughborough Students scraped a 2-2 draw with Southgate, who play host to Hampstead and Westminster is the Premier Division’s final match of the weekend.

In the Men’s Conference East, newcomers Richmond will be aiming to continue their superb start to the season when they take on Bromley and Beckenham in Chiswick.

They notched up an emphatic 5-2 win over last season’s runners-up Old Loughtonians last Sunday, while Bromley and Beckenham also scored five goals in their win over Indian Gymkhana.

Meanwhile, the only Men’s match on Saturday sees early leaders Wimbledon travel to Teddington.

Relegated from the Premier Division last season, Bowdon will try to make it two wins from two games in the Men’s Conference North when they take on Preston. They will want to display the sort of form which saw them beat Wakefield 4-1 last weekend.

After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Cheltenham showed the benefits of a great summer when they beat last season’s Men’s Conference West champions Team Bath Buccaneers 4-0 last weekend.

And this Sunday, they will be aiming to secure the points again when they travel to 2011-12 runners-up University of Birmingham.

Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, September 23 2012)

Premier Division
Southgate v Hampstead and Westminster 14:00
Reading v East Grinstead 14:00
Surbiton v Loughborough Students 14:00
Beeston v Canterbury 14:00
Brooklands MU v Cannock 14:00

Conference East
(Sat) Teddington v Wimbledon 13:45
Oxted v Old Loughtonians 12:45
City of Peterborough v Cambridge 13:00
Richmond v Bromley and Beckenham 13:30
Indian Gymkhana v Holcombe 14:00

Conference North
Olton and West Warwickshire v Belper 13:30
Leek v Wakefield 14:00
Bowdon v Preston 14:00
Doncaster v Sheffield Hallam 14:00
Khalsa (Warks) v university of Durham 14:30

Conference West
University of Birmingham v Cheltenham 12:30
Whitchurch v Guildford 13:00
Team Bath Buccaneers v Cardiff and UWIC 13:00
Bristol Firebrands v University of Exeter 14:00
Havant v Fareham 14:00