Surbiton face Beeston in Men's Premier Division

Surbiton's Sam Spencer. Credit Tim Reder 480x320


Second-placed Surbiton head to leaders Beeston on Sunday as the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division reaches a thrilling finale.

Despite their current position though Surbiton are not guaranteed a top four finish, with the battle for play-offs still very much on, while a top-of-the-table finish also comes with a 2018-19 EuroHockey League spot.

“This is one of the closest ends to a season I can remember in all my years as a Premier Division manager,” said Surbiton 1st XI manager Matt Jones. “It could go any way for a good number of teams, and we’re not safe yet.

“With so many teams losing internationals to the Commonwealth Games who knows how these matches will go? And when you add in the pressure of it being the last weekend as well as the disruption with so many games having been postponed because of the weather, it makes for a dramatic end to the season.

“We can’t be sure which personnel will be playing for either side, but regardless of that both teams have an endemic attacking style of play so it could be a very interesting game.”

Hampstead & Westminster are just outside the play-off places in fifth, but with two games left to play they could sneak in if other results go in their favour. They play the bottom two teams - Sevenoaks on Saturday, then Canterbury on Sunday.

Wimbledon are currently fourth and also have two home games left, against Brooklands MU on Saturday and Reading on Sunday. They might still end up fifth but victory in both games could see them go top of the table, depending on other results. Meanwhile, Reading need to beat Wimbledon to secure a top four finish.

At the other end of the table Canterbury and Sevenoaks are battling to avoid the drop. Currently bottom, Canterbury are one point behind second-bottom Sevenoaks and go to Kent rivals Holcombe on Friday before a home finale against Hampstead & Westminster on Sunday.

And after entertaining Hampstead & Westminster on Saturday, Sevenoaks play their final match at East Grinstead on Sunday. Elsewhere in the top tier, Holcombe head to Brooklands MU on Sunday after their Friday night clash with Canterbury.

Second-placed Loughborough Students could take the title in the Men’s Conference North if they can win at Bowdon and Cannock this weekend. They are three points behind current leaders University of Nottingham, who go to Doncaster, but it is Loughborough who have the better goal difference. Bowdon retain an outside chance of the title too.

At the other end of the table, the relegation battle continues with just three points separating the bottom six teams. Among them, Sheffield Hallam and Deeside Ramblers do battle on Saturday, as do Leeds and Doncaster, while Sheffield Hallam play Leeds on Sunday.

However, with fixtures cancelled once again last weekend due to the snow, it is likely the final placings will not be decided until the 7 April when Cannock host Sheffield Hallam and Deeside Ramblers entertain Preston.

The University of Exeter head to Cheltenham on Sunday as they bid to secure the Men’s Conference West title, while second-placed Cardiff & Met have matches at Havant on Saturday and at home against Olton & West Warwicks on Sunday. If Exeter win Cardiff will need four points from their two games to set up a title decider on 7 April.

At the other end of the table, bottom side Clifton Robinsons need to win at Isca to have any chance of overhauling ninth-placed Cheltenham.

In the Men’s Conference East champions Oxted entertain Old Georgians who, along with Old Loughtonians – their opponents on Saturday – and Chichester are battling to avoid the relegation play-offs.

* The above photograph shows Surbiton’s Sam Spencer. Credit: Tim Reder.

 

FIXTURES

Friday, March 23 2018

Men’s Premier Division
Holcombe v Canterbury 20:00

Saturday, March 24 2018

Men’s Premier Division
Sevenoaks v Hampstead & Westminster 12:00
Wimbledon v Brooklands MU 14:00

Men’s Conference East
Old Georgians v Old Loughtonians 14:30
Southgate v Teddington 15:30
Cambridge v Richmond 16:15

Men’s Conference North
Bowdon v Loughborough Students 11:45
Sheffield Hallam v Deeside Ramblers 13:30
Leeds v Doncaster 15:30

Men’s Conference West
Olton & West Warwicks v Isca 12:00
Havant v Cardiff & Met 13:30
Univ of Birmingham v Cheltenham 17:30

Sunday, March 25 2018 

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

Men’s Conference East
Brighton & Hove v Chichester 14:00
Cambridge City v Southgate 14:00
Old Loughtonians v West Herts 14:00
Oxted v Old Georgians 14:00
Teddington v Richmond 14:00

Men’s Conference North
Cannock v Loughborough Students 14:00
Doncaster v Univ of Nottingham 14:00
Preston v Bowdon 14:00
Sheffield Hallam v Leeds 14:00
Univ of Durham v Deeside Ramblers 14:00

Men’s Conference West
Cardiff & Met v Olton & West Warwicks 14:00
Cheltenham v Univ of Exeter 14:00
Fareham v Team Bath Buccaneers 14:00
Isca v Clifton Robinsons 14:00
Univ of Birmingham v Havant 14:00