Play-off hopes hang on double header

Wimbledon's Phil Ball in action during last season's final. Credit Simon Parker - 450


Two matches in two days could give East Grinstead’s play-off hopes a big boost in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division – but they must first overcome two tough opponents.

Reading provide the opposition on Saturday before a clash on Sunday with leaders Wimbledon. Currently sixth, East Grinstead could move into the top four if they can win both matches, and potentially even step up to second depending on other results.

"We’ve got some good momentum going at the moment,” said East Grinstead’s first team manager James Leman. “Hopefully we can carry that forward into this weekend.

“Wimbledon will be without four of their internationals as England are away warm weather training, and Reading are missing some too, which is a bonus for us.

“Realistically if we’re going to make the play-offs we need to win all our remaining games. Although Wimbledon are a bit of a bogey side for us, it’s great that the match is at home and we’ll be going all out to cause an upset.”

Elsewhere, Brooklands MU host second-placed Surbiton on Sunday. They will be hoping to display the sort of form which helped them to a 2-0 half time lead over top of the table Wimbledon last Sunday before they fell to a 2-3 loss.

Hampstead and Westminster climbed into the top four thanks to last week’s win over Beeston, and they will be hopeful of maintaining their push for the Finals Weekend when they play at strugglers Canterbury on Saturday.

Holcombe entertain bottom of the table Loughborough Students on Sunday, while Reading’s second game of the weekend sees them take on Beeston at Sonning Lane.

Teddington head to Cambridge City as they bid to keep hold of the lead in the Men’s Conference East. Meanwhile Sevenoaks, who were knocked off the top on goal difference by Teddington last weekend, play host to third-placed Southgate.

The bottom two in the Men’s Conference North, Leek host Cannock on Sunday in a crucial match for both sides. At the top of the table, the University of Durham are at home against Deeside Ramblers. Durham have won all 13 matches to date, leading Olton by 12 points so if they win, and Olton fail to do likewise at Oxton, they will be crowned champions.

At the top of the Men’s Conference West, Cardiff and Met are at home on Sunday, playing second-bottom Fareham. If the result goes Cardiff’s way then the University of Bristol can climb off the bottom of the table when they go to Chichester.

* The above photograph shows Wimbledon's Phil Ball in action during last season's final. Credit Simon Parker


FIXTURES

Saturday, February 25

Men’s Premier Division
Canterbury v Hampstead and Westminster 18:00
Reading v East Grinstead 18:30

Men’s Conference East
Richmond v Wapping 18:00

Sunday, February 26

Men’s Premier Division
Brooklands MU v Surbiton 14:00
Holcombe v Loughborough Students 14:00
Reading v Beeston 14:30
East Grinstead v Wimbledon 14:30

Men’s Conference East
Oxted v Indian Gymkhana 12:45
Cambridge City v Teddington 13:00
West Herts v Brighton and Hove 14:00
Sevenoaks v Southgate 14:30

Men’s Conference North
Oxton v Olton and West Warwicks 13:30
Univ of Durham v Deeside Ramblers 14:00
Preston v Sheffield Hallam 14:00
Leek v Cannock 14:00
Bowdon v Doncaster 14:30

Men’s Conference West
Chichester v Univ of Bristol 12:15
Isca v Cheltenham 12:30
Cardiff & Met v Fareham 12:30
Team Bath Buccaneers v Univ of Birmingham 13:00
Old Georgians v Univ of Exeter 14:00