What's on this Weekend

The curtain is set to draw on the 2010/11 regular season in the EHL with two titles in the balance, relegations and play-off entries for both promotion and relegation still to be decided.

For hockey enthusiasts, we do, of course, have the post season matches to look forward to with the EHL Championships, Promotion Tournament and Relegation play-offs coming hot on the heels of the regular season. Tickets can be purchased for the EHL Championships and Promotion Tournament and are on sale online now at https:/express.iristickets.co.uk/k?englandhockey

Men

So - on to the preview...East Grinstead locked up a European place and their position as first seeds in the EHL Championships last weekend, so for them the fixture this weekend is about carrying form through to the tournament. Loughborough Students, their opponents currently occupy the fifth-and final-qualifying place for the Championships by just a one goal advantage over Bowdon. The game, therefore, has great significance for a team that suffered relegation in the supers sixes National Indoor Hockey Championships over the winter break. In their quest to usurp Loughborough, Bowdon host a Reading side that has dropped only two points in their last five games. When the two sides met on the first day of the season the score ended in 0-0 parity.

Canterbury celebrate scoring one of four against Brooklands MUPerhaps the fixture with the greatest of importance in the division this Sunday sees Brooklands MU travel to Canterbury. With Canterbury footing the table, and two points behind their opponents, nothing less than a win can avoid automatic relegation for the side promoted last season. Indeed, both sides progressed through the EHL Promotion Tournament last season with Brooklands MU having survived relegation and Canterbury promoted from Conference East. Though Brooklands MU had desire to avoid the play-offs for the fourth season in a row, they certainly don’t want to achieve that by way of automatic relegation. Canterbury recorded a desperate win over Loughborough Students last weekend, though that was only their second of the season, whilst Brooklands MU last won in February. Canterbury’s only other win of the season came on the first day of the season in a 3-2 win over Brooklands.

The meeting between Surbiton and Beeston is likely to be an edgy encounter with the two set to meet in the EHL Championships on 2 April. At present, Beeston will be hosting the fixture with Surbiton requiring a 12 goal swing in a victory to take third spot. With neither team wanting to give much away for their meeting the following week, it could make for interesting viewing.

Cannock HC men celebrate a goal at homeIn the final game of the division, Hampstead & Westminster will be on tenterhooks not only for a win over Cannock, but also for Loughborough and Bowdon to lose; that chain of events would see the London side sneak into the final Championships qualifying place. Both sides come into the fixture having lost their previous games but, after results went their way last weekend, Cannock will be delighted that there is no threat of relegation.

Women

Slough v. Leicester 2010All of the qualifying places in the Women’s EHL Championships were tied up last week though there may be movement in the seedings. Leicester cemented their place in Europe and a home tie on 3 April against the winner of the sides playing on 2 April (4th v 5th), and host Slough on Saturday in a repeat of last season’s EHL Championships final. Slough took the title in May last year, though Leicester bounced back at the beginning of the season when they registered a 3-0 win. Slough can finish fourth, at best, this season so if they were to progress through their first game in the championships they would be facing Leicester again.

Reading and Bowdon Hightown meet on Saturday, a win for either side guarantees third place with a draw meaning Reading maintain their current third position. Though Bowdon Hightown has enjoyed good form of late (three wins and a draw), and beat Reading in September, they will be facing the form side of the division that has won 9 in a row including wins over the top two.

Leicester v Canterbury 2010Second place EuroCanterbury who are set to face either Hightown or Reading, have secured their second place in the division, but must first face relegated Brooklands Poynton on Saturday.

Cannock face a desperate battle to avoid the relegation play-offs at home against local rivals University of Birmingham, Cannock need the win and for Olton & WW to lose. University of Birmingham have slipped out of the Championships qualifying places following a run of five defeats whilst Cannock last won at the start of the month against now relegated Brooklands Poynton.

Olton & WW had picked up eight points from four games prior to last weekend’ss 8-0 defeat by EuroCanterbury; a draw would guarantee their survival against a Clifton side who sits just a place, and two points, ahead of them in the table. Clifton beat Cannock last weekend to secure their safety, their first points since 13th February though they did beat Olton 5-2 the last time the two faced each other.   

Men's Conference

Men’s Conference East champions Southgate will be presented their trophy and medals on Sunday at their home game against Harleston Magpies. At the bottom St. Albans are four points adrift of safety and three points ahead of bottom side Sevenoaks. Whilst Sevenoaks can – mathematically – avoid automatic relegation it will require a win over Wimbledon, for St. Albans to lose at Holcombe, and a twenty goal swing.

Men’s Conference West was secured by University of Exeter last weekend following a win over second place Team Bath Buccaneers and will be presented their trophy and medals at relegated Stourport. Fareham requires a victory over Whitchurch and for Bournville to lose at Havant to avoid the relegation play-offs; Bournville, meanwhile, need just a point to guarantee their participation in the EHL next season.

Men’s Conference North has a tense battle for the title in store on the final day. Durham University lead the division by a single point over Sheffield Hallam Civica and must secure a home win over Harborne to clinch the title. Harborne, meanwhile sit precariously a point above the relegation play-offs with only a win guaranteeing their safety as the team below them, Barford Tigers, match up against relegated Ben Rhydding. Second place Sheffield Hallam travel to seventh place Belper hoping for a win and for Durham to slip up. Doncaster, three points behind Durham, in third, require both Durham and Sheffield to lose and a seven goal swing to stand a hope of the title (if Sheffield Hallam drew it would require a 24 goal swing!); they host Olton & WW this weekend.

Women's Conference

Women’s Conference East winners Sevenoaks head to Cambridge City for their final game of the campaign which will see them presented with their winning regalia. With matters finalised at the bottom too, Dereham relegated and Cambridge City confirmed in the relegation play-offs, Cambridge will look for a good performance against Sevenoaks as they head into their games on 2 and 9 April.

Women’s Conference North is currently led by free scoring Sutton Coldfield who regained the top spot following a 6-0 win over Belper. In a true test of their mettle they host Durham University – who held Loughborough to a 0-0 draw last week allowing Sutton to go top – on Saturday; Durham haven’t lost in seven games. Loughborough Students, meanwhile, face a Doncaster side that sits in sixth place and against whom they drew 3-3 in September. At the bottom any one of four sides could mathematically end up in the relegation play-offs. Bottom side Aldridge & Walsall need a win over seventh placed Beeston to make up the two points they trail Belper and must hope that Belper lose at Sunderland. Though a draw for Belper and win for Aldridge & Walsall would see the two levelled on points, there is a 24 goal difference in Belper’s favour. Springfields UCLAN must also hope that Belper fail to win, or better still, they gain at least a point away at fifth place Wakefield Bradford to secure their safety. Beeston also need a point from their fixture with Aldridge & Walsall to avoid the relegation play-offs.

Buckingham was crowned Women’s Conference West champions last Sunday and face third place Trojans in their preparations for the EHL Promotion Tournament in May. At the bottom, Staines and Exe face a relegation showdown. Staines need a draw or better for safety whilst Exe need the win to usurp their opponents. Whichever side ends in the play-offs will do so with the highest points total of Women’s Conference teams; predictably at this stage in the season, there is little to choose between the two and the same could have been said on the first day of the season, when they last met, as the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

For further details on the play-offs visit our dedicated page at:
http://englandhockey.co.uk/page.asp?section=896&sectionTitle=Play+Offs+2011