Relegation scrap in the Men's Premier Division

Canterbury's Craig Boyne. Credit Simon Parker - 450

The battle to avoid relegation goes right down to the wire in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division, with Canterbury hosting Brooklands MU on Sunday to see who will have to battle through play-offs to preserve their top flight status.

Currently ninth, Canterbury will overtake eighth-placed Brooklands with a win. The team who finish ninth will have to battle with the three Conference winners if they want to remain in the top flight.

Both sides have seen Jekyll and Hyde form through the season, but both have secured two wins since Christmas, with Canterbury’s shock 5-2 defeat of leaders Wimbledon a fortnight ago showing just what they can do.

“It is a huge game for us this Sunday and we hope the crowds will come out in support,” said Canterbury manager Gary Wyver. “It will be like a cup final as we know only a win will secure our Premier Division place for next season without having to qualify through the play-offs as we have had to do for the previous two seasons.

“Recent home form has been good. Training and preparation will be as normal, and we will get together as a group on Thursday evening after training just to make sure everyone knows their role for Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Wimbledon head to third-placed Surbiton on Sunday for their final match of the regular season, while second-placed Holcombe go to Hampstead and Westminster, who have secured the fourth and final spot at Finals Weekend.

Elsewhere, Beeston are hosting East Grinstead, while relegated Loughborough Students entertain Reading in their final top flight match.

In the Men’s Conference East, the battle for the title will come down to the battle between Teddington and Sevenoaks on Sunday, with the winner of the first versus second clash going forward to the promotion play-offs. A draw will also be enough for Teddington to stay in front.

Meanwhile, Wapping host Indian Gymkhana in a clash of the bottom two. The winner will go into the relegation play-offs, while the loser is automatically relegated. A draw will mean Wapping are down.

The Men’s Conference West also sees the title race go right down to the wire, with leaders Team Bath Buccaneers hosting Cheltenham, while Cardiff and Met – who are level on points but second because of an inferior goal difference – head to the University of Exeter.

And the scrap to avoid relegation is a three-way battle, with Chichester, Isca and Fareham all hoping for a win to avoid having to fight through play-offs to preserve their league status.

In the Men’s Conference North, bottom club Leek need a big win over Olton and West Warwicks if they are to avoid automatic relegation. Meanwhile, ninth-placed Oxton go to Bowdon knowing that a win or draw will be enough for them to avoid the drop, although they will still have to face relegation play-offs.

Elsewhere, title winners the University of Durham host Cannock looking to complete a remarkable 18 wins out of 18 in the league.

* The above photograph shows Canterbury's Craig Boyne. Credit Simon Parker.

FIXTURES – Sunday, March 26

Men’s Hockey League

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

Men’s Conference East
Richmond v West Herts 14:00
Teddington v Sevenoaks 14:00
Cambridge City v Oxted 14:00
Wapping v Indian Gymkhana 14:00
Southgate v Brighton and Hove 14:00

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

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