Indoor EHL Review 12-13 December: Men's and Women's Premier Divisions.

The first weekend of Indoor EHL Premier Division action started with some thunderous action at Fleming Park, Eastleigh; East Grinstead and Leicester romped to leads with 100% records in Men’s and Women’s Premiers Divisions, respectively at the two pitch venue. 

Teams are competing to qualify through to the National Indoor Hockey Championships [NIHC] hosted at the Trent FM Arena, Nottingham on 30-31 January 2010.

East Grinstead started their campaign with an 11-3 thumping of last season’s fifth placed Beeston, followed by an 8-2 victory over Harleston Magpies to conclude day one. On day two, the Sussex side put eleven past Old Loughtonians (4th last season) and then sixteen past newly promoted St. Albans. David De Prez top scored for the division leaders by netting 13 times in four games. Last season’s champions have a tougher schedule 9-10 Jan when they must face the other three of the top four, Loughborough Students, Reading and Surbiton. 

Loughborough Students also completed a weekend of four wins from four games; an 8-4 win over St. Albans was followed by an impressive 8-5 victory over an otherwise strong Surbiton. They followed that with a 4-3 win over local rivals Beeston and a 7-3 triumph over winless Havant, to end in a strong position going in to week two.   Loughborough Students' James Blackwell on the ball during their semi-final at the National Indoor Championships at the NIA, Birmingham, West Midlands, 25th January 2009.
Havant endured a torrid weekend, losing all four games, conceding on average 13 goals per game and footing the table, the worst of those wins came during a 20-4 loss to Reading. 

Third placed Reading also recorded victories against Old Loughtonians (6-4), and Harleston Magpies (8-4) before finishing the weekend with a 6-4 loss against Surbiton, in which Ben Hawes netted a hat-trick following his international action against on Monday evening against Scotland at the NIA. 

Surbiton occupy the fourth qualifying place heading into week two having only dropped points in their loss to Loughborough Students. Beeston and Harleston Magpies sit five points behind the four NIHC qualification places. Old Loughtonians, with just one win from the weekend sit in seventh with St Albans and Havant both without a point the bottom two.

Slough smashed 36 goals in four games to lead the Women’s Premier Division; resounding victories on Day One, 10-2 over Trojans and 11-3 against Olton & WW were followed by a 7-3 win over long term rivals Bowdon Hightown and an 8-3 triumph over bottom of the table Clifton. 

Newly promoted Leicester sit second with wins over Canterbury (9-4), Clifton (4-0), Trojans (6-1), and a 4-3 loss to Ipswich. Canterbury, beaten NIHC semi-finalists last season, also amassed 9 points having recorded wins over Ipswich, Chelmsford and Clifton and are in a good position to qualify again if their form continues. 

Olton's Kerry Thompson-Mooore is challenged by Slough's Fiona Greenham during their semifinal at the National Indoor Championships at the NIA Arena, Birmingham, West Midlands, 25th January 2009.Last season’s NIHC champions, Bowdon Hightown, picked up half of the available points, and sit fourth, they share the same points as Ipswich, Chelmsford, and Trojans, who were all able to take points from each other leaving a wide open division looking ahead to week two. 

Olton & WW and Clifton occupy the bottom two places having failed to record any points on the board. It will be a daunting task for the bottom two in the second weekend, knowing that two wins will only be enough to draw level with one of four teams on six points. 

Ipswich, Chelmsford and Bowdon Hightown have all qualified previously for the NIHC and have the experience required to obtain results in pressured second weekend, so it will be interesting to see which team mounts a challenge on the top three sides.

It’s all to play for in the Indoor EHL Premier Division’s conclusion, 09-10 January at Fleming Park, Eastleigh; so keep your eyes peeled for another enthralling weekend of high pressure, high octane, first class hockey...