Title Race Goes to the Wire

East Grinstead took one step closer to being crowned champions of the Menís Premier League after a comfortable home victory against Bowdon while Beeston are also still in the title race after they narrowly beat Surbiton to keep the pressure on East Grinstead.

Dominick Male scored a goal in each half, with Martin Hšner also on the score sheet with his 14th goal of the season to send East Grinstead to a 6-0 victory against Bowdon.  East Grinstead just need to overcome Surbiton in their last match to take the trophy back to Saint Hill.  Beeston will be hoping for a massive favour from Surbiton, who they beat on Saturday, to have any chance of stealing the title.  With the scores tied at one a piece in their match, Surbitonís Ben Hawes missed a stroke which proved to be costly as just one minute later, Beestonís Wayne Rowland scored what turned out to be the winner.  Readingís 4-1 away victory means that they still have a slim chance of winning the league but will need results to go their way as well as improving their goal difference.  This win for Reading also means that Southgate have been relegated after just one season in the top flight. Cannockís Harry Jawanda scored a last minute equaliser against Hampstead & Westminster which means that they still have a chance of making the Euro Hockey League next season.  To do this, they will need to win at Reading in the last game by two goals or more to leap frog their counterparts.  Loughborough Students' Richard Smith scored a goal in each half to send his side to a 4-0 victory over Havant, a result which also means the team from the south coast will take part in the relegation play-offs.

In the Womenís Premier Division, Ipswich claimed a vital 2-0 victory over Poynton giving them a chance of survival in the relegation play-offs.  The win also meant that Chelmsford are now relegated as they lost out 3-1 to Clifton.  Bowdon Hightown remain on for a clean sweep this season as they came from a goal down to defeat Slough with Tina Cullen scoring the winner; her 23rd goal of the season.  The other two matches in the league ended in draws as Leicester's Lucy Brown rescued a point against Trojans, with Olton & West Warwicks drawing against Canterbury in the race for second spot and a place in the European Cup Winners Cup.

In the Menís Conference West, the University of Exeter became champions of the league with two goals in the last 11 minutes from Ian Haley and Ed Kelleher enough to beat second place Guildford 3-1.  At the bottom of the table, Firebrands and Cardiff & UWIC both lost and conceded five goals which means that they are guaranteed to either be relegated or involved in the relegation play-offs depending on their results next week.  Whitchurchís John Collins scored a hat-trick which included a last minute winner in a 6-5 victory against Stourport which means they are now safe from relegation and the University of Birmingham came from behind to beat Bournville 3-1 which removes any fears they may have had about the drop.

It is all to play for at the top of the Menís Conference North in an interesting week of results which saw Durham University fall out of the title race as they conceded a last minute goal to be on the wrong end of a nine goal thriller at home to Leek.  Leaders Brooklands MUís Ollie Cooper scored a hat-trick to steer his side to a comfortable 5-1 victory against Formby and with Belper beating Barford Tigers 2-0, it is all to play for as Brooklands MU and Belper go head to head in the last match with just one point between the sides as they compete for the league title.  Formbyís defeat means that they will need to pull off a minor mathematical miracle to avoid the relegation play-offs as they play bottom side Telford & Wrekin in the last game.  Telfor and Wrekin lost 9-3 to Sheffield Hallam at the weekend.  Sheffield University Bankers narrowly lost out to Doncaster and they will need to avoid defeat to guarantee safety in their final match against Durham University.

Canterbury's Lloyd Norris-Jones celebrates scoring a stunning solo goal  for Canterbury's 3rd goal during their England Hockey League match at Polo Farm, Canterbury, Kent, 22nd March 2009.In the Menís Conference East, Oxted came closer to winning the league after boosting their goal difference in a 9-2 victory over City of Peterborough.  This means that a draw should be enough to seal the title for Oxted as they travel to Sevenoaks in their last match.  Canterbury kept the pressure on Oxted with a 4-1 home win against Bromley & Beckenham and they will need Oxted to lose to have any chance of winning the title.  Old Loughtonians' goalless draw against Indian Gymkhana means that both teams are now mathematically out of the title race.  At the bottom end of the table, the relegation fight will go down to the wire as all three teams in the bottom three lost this weekend meaning just one point separates Ipswich, City of Peterborough and Chelmsford.  Chelmsford travel to Ipswich in the last match, with City of Peterborough hosting third place Old Loughtonians.

With two out of the three league titles already confirmed in the Womenís Conferences, there was an interesting twist in the Womenís North Division as Durham University overtook Loughborough Students into first place.  Loughborough Students conceded a late equaliser in their 3-3 draw at Belper which means that Durham University are in pole position going into the last match after they won 4-2 at Bradford Wakefield.  Standing in their way are local rivals Sunderland, whose draw against Doncaster made them safe from relegation.  Loughborough Students host Liverpool Sefton in the last match and will need Durham University to slip up against Sunderland to have any chance of winning the league.  At the bottom of the table, Ben Rhydding secured a priceless 2-0 victory over Beeston which took them off the foot of the table at the expense of Whitley Bay & Tynemouth who conceded a late equaliser to draw at Liverpool Sefton.  The two bottom sides go head to head in the last match with Ben Rhydding just needing a draw to have a chance of survival through the play-offs.

Reading women in a team photo with their Slazenger EHL Conference West trophy and medals, 21 March 2009In the Womenís Conference East, Staines won their second game in as many weeks as they moved out of the relegation play-off spot at the expense of Sevenoaks who drew at home to bottom club Maidstone.  Staines travel to Horsham in their last match, who could still slip into the relegation play-offs if they lose to Staines and Sevenoaks win at third place Barnes Hounslow Ealing.  Reading kept up their undefeated season as they won at home to Southgate on the day they collected the league trophy and medals.  Old Loughtonians won at home to Horsham to remain in second place.  Harleston Magpies scored three second half goals to defeat St Albans 3-0 in the other match in Womenís Conference East. 

In the Womenís Conference West division, Rover Oxford beat St Austell 4-2 which means that the bottom two places are confirmed with St Austell being relegated and Rover Oxford going into the play-offs.  The University of Birmingham remarkably reached a century of goals for the season as they beat Bournemouth 7-0 on the day that they also collected their league title.  Second place Sutton Coldfield were held to a goalless draw by fourth place Exe whilst Cannockís Lucia Gascoigne score four goals to help her team to an 8-5 win away at Firebrands.  Aldridge beat Swansea in the other match in the league which means that they are guaranteed safety for another year.