PREVIEWS: Men's Hockey League

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Top flight stalwarts Reading face relegation rivals Brooklands MU on Sunday, knowing that anything but a win will mean the end of their stay in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division.

Currently bottom of the table with just one league win all season, it’s the final roll of the dice for the Sonning Lane outfit.

But with Brooklands MU also having a tough season with 12 defeats from their 16 games, Reading have more than a fighting chance of remaining in the Premier Division.

“It is difficult to underestimate the importance of the fixture to the team,” said Reading’s team manager Tim Hamilton. “With a proud history boasting numerous league titles and regular EHL qualification, our current plight is a long way from where we aspire to be.

“We remain the only English side to have won an EHL medal, and our ambition is to repeat that feat, as such Premier Division survival is a crucial step.

“The squad are acutely aware that we have run out of road and we have absolutely no margin for error. Win this week and we progress to next week with an opportunity to continue the fight, lose and we are relegated.”

Elsewhere Hampstead & Westminster travel to East Grinstead as they bid to hold on to second spot and retain home advantage for the play-offs. East Grinstead need points to ensure they stay out of the fight to avoid the drop. Third-placed Wimbledon are just two points behind and could go second if they can beat visitors Holcombe.

Old Georgians secured their play-off spot with two wins last weekend, and they could still claim second place and home advantage if Wimbledon and Hampstead & Westminster slip up over their last two regular season matches.

Georgians go to the University of Exeter for their penultimate regular season match on Sunday. But they won’t have an easy ride against a side who are fighting the drop and have won two of their four league matches this year.

And in the weekend’s other Premier Division clash leaders Surbiton go to Beeston.

The University of Durham and Bowdon are level on points at the top of the Division One North table, with Durham edging the lead on goal difference.

They host the University of Nottingham this Sunday, while Bowdon are also at home, against Loughborough Students.

At the other end of the table bottom club Leeds are at home against Olton & West Warwicks as they desperately try to avoid the drop, while second-bottom Sheffield Hallam are looking to ease their relegation worries as they host the University of Birmingham on Saturday evening.

Leaders Oxted play host to bottom of the table Fareham on Sunday in Division One South, while second-placed Sevenoaks play Oxford Hawks on Saturday as they try to maintain the pressure on Oxted. If Sevenoaks and third placed Southgate, who travel to Canterbury, fail to win, Oxted will go into the game knowing three points would secure the title.

EHL PLAY-OFFS AND PROMOTION AND RELEGATION 2019-20

League Finals

The top four teams in the EHL Premier Divisions play off to be league champions. Semis - 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd. The winning semi-finalists qualify for the final.

The team finishing top of the Division at the end of the regular season take England’s second place in the following season’s Euro Hockey League, the winners of the final are league champions and take England’s top place. If this is the same team then the losers of the final take the second European place.

As requested by teams the semi-finals this season are at home club venues. Men’s semis are on 29 March, Women’s semis are on 4 April in order to ensure Great Britain internationals are available for their clubs.

The finals are on 5 April at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

1200 hrs – Men’s final

1430 hrs – Women’s final

Promotion & Relegation – Premier Division and Division 1 North & Division 1 South

The team finishing 10th in the Premier Division is relegated.

The winners of Division 1 North & Division 1 South play off in a one-off match on 29 March at a neutral venue, Nottingham Hockey Centre. The winners of this match are promoted to the Premier Division.

The losers of this game play against the team finishing 9th in the Premier Division over two matches, home and away, with the winners on the aggregate score earning/retaining a Premier Division place.

5 April – Losers of Division 1 North & Division 1 South play off v 9th Premier Division – Match 1

18 April – 9th Premier Division v Losers of Division 1 North & Division 1 South play off – Match 2

FIXTURES

Men’s Hockey League (Sat, 7 March 2020):

Division One North
Sheffield Hallam v Univ of Birmingham 18:30

Division One South
Sevenoaks v Oxford Hawks 17:00
Canterbury v Southgate 18:00

Conference East
London Edwardians v Wapping 12:00
Bromley & Beckenham v Chichester 14:00
St Albans v Old Loughtonians 18:30

Conference North
Lichfield v Deeside Ramblers 13:30
Wakefield v Timperley 16:30

Men’s Hockey League (Sun, 8 March 2020):

Premier Division
Beeston v Surbiton 14:00
East Grinstead v Hampstead & Westminster 14:00
Reading v Brooklands MU 14:00
Univ of Exeter v Old Georgians 14:00
Wimbledon v Holcombe 14:30

Division One North
City of Peterborough v Cardiff & Met 14:00
Univ of Durham v Univ of Nottingham 14:00
Bowdon v Loughborough Students 14:30
Leeds v Olton & West Warwicks 14:30

Division One South
Team Bath Buccaneers v Teddington 13:00
Havant v Brighton & Hove 14:00
Oxted v Fareham 14:00

Conference East
Spencer v Cambridge City 13:30
Bedford v Harleston Magpies 14:00

Conference West
Univ of Exeter 2XI v Old Cranleighans 12:00
Cheltenham v Khalsa Leamington 12:40
Ashmoor v Cardiff University 13:00
Richmond v Harborne 13:30
Univ of Bristol v Isca 14:00

Conference North
Barford Tigers v Didsbury Northern 13:00
Alderley Edge v Belper 14:00
Preston v Doncaster 14:00