East Grinstead survive the drop

Beeston celebrate scoring


After finishing as runners-up in the League Finals last season, East Grinstead had to fight to avoid relegation from the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division this year – and it took until the final few minutes before their safety was secured.

Resurgent Canterbury – with five wins from their previous six games – went into the final weekend with a real chance of avoiding the drop and leaving East Grinstead in the relegation play-offs.

But Wimbledon took an early lead against Canterbury through Phil Ball and held on to their slim lead. At the same time East Grinstead battled to a 2-2 draw at Beeston, and finished two points clear of Canterbury, who must go through the play-offs to ensure top flight survival.

Stuart Pilgrim and Richard Lawrence scored for Beeston, and following Tony Wilson’s 39th minute goal East Grinstead had to wait until the 67th minute before Ross Stott found the goal and helped them take a point.

The best that Cannock could hope for was to avoid automatic relegation but a 6-3 defeat to Surbiton sees them finish bottom.

Cannock put on a battling display with Hardeep Singh Jawanda, Callum McKenzie and Peter Jackson all finding the target. But Surbiton had too much firepower for them as Evan Kimber’s hat-trick was added to by a brace from Alan Forsyth and a strike from Andrew Hayward.

The participants of the finals weekend were already decided before the final round of games but Holcombe will be happy to have gone all season unbeaten, signing off with a 3-0 win over Hampstead and Westminster. This came courtesy of goals from Gareth Andrew, Nick Bandurak and Sam Ward.

Holcombe will be joined by Surbiton, Wimbledon and Reading, who lost 3-1 to Brooklands Manchester University in their final game. Ben Boon scored their only goal with Sam Perrin, Peter Flanagan and Graeme Wolfenden netting for Brooklands.

Men’s Conference West

Guildford faced relegation heartbreak on the final day of the season in the Men’s Conference West after their 0-0 draw with Cheltenham saw them finish bottom of the table.

The result would have been enough to send them to relegation play-offs had Chichester Priory Park not taken a 1-0 win over Indian Gymkhana. Luke Emmett scored the only goal after six minutes and it proved to be enough.

Champions Cardiff and Met took a 3-2 win over Fareham and Team Bath Buccaneers finished second in the table after beating the University of Exeter 2-1. Isca beat the University of Birmingham 3-1.

Men’s Conference North

It was tight at the bottom of the Men’s Conference North, but it was Olton and West Warwicks who managed to escape relegation with a fine 5-2 win over Preston. Daniel Sulway, Tom Ryland, Tom Mallett, Ed James and Joseph Paul scored the goals that saw them climb to safety.

Lichfield are automatically relegated after losing 3-0 to the University of Durham. Wakefield will go to relegation play-offs despite a heavy 7-1 defeat at the hands of Bowdon on the final day. David Egerton was the main architect of their downfall with a hat-trick.

Sheffield Hallam beat Deeside Ramblers 4-2 and Loughborough Students took a 2-1 win against Doncaster.

Men’s Conference East

Richmond secured the title in the Men’s Hockey League Conference East with a 2-1 win over Sevenoaks in their last game of the campaign.

Southgate needed them to lose and to get a result against Oxted to be in with a chance of snatching top spot, but they lost 4-1 with Dylan Thomas scoring a hat-trick against them.

Harleston Magpies were long-since relegated and have amassed just six points all season. They also lost with Max Webster in top form for their opposition, West Herts. He scored a hat-trick for his side as they won 7-3.

Bromley and Beckenham’s fate was already sealed too, they lost 4-3 to Brighton and Hove and will go into the relegation play-offs. Euan Gilmour scored four as Cambridge City beat Teddington 6-2.

* The above photograph shows East Grinstead's Niall Stott battling with a Beeston player. Credit David Kissman

Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, March 13 2016):

Men's Premier Division: Hampstead and Westminster 0, Holcombe 3; Beeston 2, East Grinstead 2; Wimbledon 1, Canterbury 0; Brooklands Manchester University 3, Reading 1; Cannock 3, Surbiton 6.

Men's Conference East: Cambridge City 6, Teddington 2; Sevenoaks 1, Richmond 2; Brighton and Hove 4, Bromley and Beckenham 3; Oxted 4, Southgate 1; West Herts 7, Harleston Magpies 3.

Men's Conference West: Team Bath Buccaneers 2, University of Exeter 1; Guildford 0, Cheltenham 0; Chichester Priory Park 1, Indian Gymkhana 0; Isca 3, University of Birmingham 1; Fareham 2, Cardiff and Met 3.

Men's Conference North: Doncaster 1, Loughborough Students 2; Deeside Ramblers 2, Sheffield Hallam 4; Olton and West Warwicks 5, Preston 2; Wakefield 1, Bowdon 7; University of Durham 3, Lichfield 0.

League Finals weekend now on sale

The next big event in the club calendar is the League Finals Weekend on the 16th and 17th April – this year the Men’s and Investec Women’s Hockey Leagues Finals and playoffs are combined into one action-packed weekend at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre so drama is guaranteed!

League Finals Weekend tickets are on sale now www.englandhockey.co.uk/tickets  Knockout Finals tickets will also go on sale soon on this page.

Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy to be hosted by England Hockey

England Hockey has just announced that it will be hosting the men’s Hockey Champions Trophy this June. Read more about it here. Tickets for the event go on sale on Tuesday 15 March at www.englandhockey.co.uk or www.greatbritainhockey.co.uk