Big domestic & European weekend ahead

In the England Hockey League (EHL) Men’s Premier Division, East Grinstead return from successfully maintaining top flight status in the EuroHockey Indoor club Cup with a double header, hosting Bowdon (pictured, Simon Egerton) and Saturday and Canterbury on Sunday. There is a crucial game at Brooklands MU on Saturday where the Manchester side host Cannock. Cannock have opened up a six point lead over Brooklands in the race to avoid the relegation and play-off places and Brooklands therefore really need the win if they are to hope to climb to eighth. Apart from bottom of the table Canterbury, who play Reading on Saturday, the other games see teams trying to get the points they need to ensure a top five finish and qualify for the play-offs with only five points separating third to seventh. 

Canterbury's Mel Clewlow (right) gets past a dispairing challenge from University of Birmingham's Kirsty Dawson during their EHL Premier League game at Polo farm, 22nd NovemberA number of EHL Women’s Premier Division clubs also face double headers with the replaying of matches that were postponed due to the bad weather before Christmas whilst leaders Leicester are absent, representing England in the second tier of the EuroHockey club Champions Trophy event in Abbeville, France. Leicester's absence will give EuroCanterbury (pictured, Mel Clewlow) the chance to overtake at the top but they face a tough test against an improving Reading side on Sunday. Slough travel to lowly Olton on Saturday and are at home to Clifton on Sunday and a six point weekend for them would put them firmly in the title mix.  The Midlands derby between Cannock and Olton will be crucial as the home side are just a point and a place ahead of the visitors who occupy the relegation play-off spot.

Key Men’s Conference games see East leaders Southgate looking to bounce back after a surprise reverse last Saturday with a game against Wimbledon.  Second plays third with Holcombe against Old Loughtonians and decond also plays third in Conference North with Sheffield Hallam Civica travelling to Durham University hoping that Doncaster, who lead them both by a point, might slip up at home to Belper.

Another second v third battle is Sunday's Women’s Conference North game between Wakefield Bradford and Loughborough Students with a loss for either surely eliminating the chance of catching leaders Sutton Coldfield. Ipswich, who regained top spot in the East, face a tough game against East Anglian rivals Harleston Magpies who have enjoyed a post-Christmas resurgence.

For details of all EHL matches click here.

Hampstead & Westminster's Peter Swainson gets away from Reading's Jon Codling during their England Hockey League Premier Divison gameAlso this weekend is the Quarter Finals of the Men’s Cup and Women’s Trophy. In the Men’s Cup, there is a Midlands derby as EHL Premier Division side Cannock host University of Birmingham. Cannock will be looking for revenge after the students defeated them in round three last season. Chelmsford, the only side from outside the EHL remaining in the competition, travel North to take on Doncaster and Old Loughtonians host Hampstead & Westminster (pictured, Peter Swainson) in an all London affair - a repeat of last season's quarter final in which Hampstead & Westminster won 4-1. Beeston are already through to their fourth successive semi final after receiving a walkover against Reading. 

In the Women’s Trophy, there is a Staffordshire derby as North Stafford take on Leek, who were losing quarter finalists two years ago. The last eight stage is new to the remaining six teams, with none having made it to the quarter final stage in the previous two years.  Wimbledon have only conceded one goal en route and they travel to Shropshire to take on Shrewsbury. Its East v West as Wisbech Town make the journey to take on Teign, with Colchester making the trip into London to play Tulse Hill & Dulwich.

Full details of the Men's Cup and Women's Trophy matches can be seen below.

Men’s Cup Quarter Finals
Beeston v Reading (Walkover to Beeston)
Cannock v University of Birmingham (1400)
Doncaster v Chelmsford (1400)
Old Loughtonians v Hampstead & Westminster (1130)

Women’s Trophy Quarter Finals
North Stafford v Leek (1330)
Shrewsbury v Wimbledon (1400)
Teign v Wisbech Town (1030)
Tulse Hill & Dulwich v Colchester (1300)

Leicester's Katie Long celebrates with Maddie Hinch after Leicester won the National Indoor Hockey Championships at the Trent FM ArenaIn Abbeville, France, the Leicester ladies make a return to indoor hockey at the EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy.  Despite their outdoor pedigree, it is the first time that the girls in orange have played in European indoor competition, having qualified to represent England as a result of winning the 2010 National Indoor Hockey Finals, Leicester take on SV Arminen (AUT), ARA La Gantoise (BEL) and TJ Slavia Hradec Kralove (CZE) in Pool A.  Their ambition will be to secure an English return to the top flight, a feat achievable with a top two finish.  Follow Leicester's progress over the weekend via the official tournament website at http://www.eurohockeyabbeville.fr/