England: EHL Premier Division Finalists Confirmed

In a thrilling day of action in Surbiton, the finalists of the Premier Division were confirmed as Hamstead and Westminster v Surbiton (Women) and Surbiton v Old Georgians (men) for the final matches taking place on Sunday 14 April.


East Grinstead v Hampstead and Westminster

Hampstead and Westminster qualified for their first ever Women’s Premier Division Final with a 3-2 shootout victory over champions East Grinstead in the first semi-final at Surbiton Hockey Club after an enthralling 2-2 comeback draw.

The Sussex side had taken a 2-0 lead in the first quarter with goals from Anna Faulstich and Sophie Bray before David Cooper’s side scored goals at the death of both the third and fourth quarters from Holly Hunt and then Joie Leigh sent the match to a shootout.

Faulstich latched onto a rebound after Bray was denied by Pritchard before Bray expertly brought down an Alex Malzer aerial and lobbed the onrushing Pritchard to double the advantage. 

Grace Balsdon’s misplaced pass gave Hunt the chance to drive into the circle before she unleashed a powerful drive into the bottom corner, before Hampstead’s high-press paid dividends once more in the dying seconds. 

Cooper’s side won the ball in the East Grinstead defensive quarter once more, winning a penalty corner with just 12.5 seconds to go. A routine saw Robertson look to deflect home, her effort only stopped by Lily Walker’s foot on the line, giving Leigh the chance to convert from the penalty stroke spot.

She made no mistake to beat Field and leave East Grinstead reeling as they bid to reach back-to-back finals.

Theo Dowse’s side led 2-1 after three shootout efforts apiece but a stellar performance from Miriam Pritchard kept out their last two efforts with Premier Division top-scorer Madi Ratcliffe and Sofia Martin both scoring their shootouts against Issy Field to send the Londoners into their first ever Final.

More impressively, it is Hampstead’s first win over East Grinstead this season with Dowse’s side having won both matches 5-1 across the regular season phases with the result also putting an end to a 13-match unbeaten run for the Sussex outfit. 

Surbiton v Wimbledon

Hosts Surbiton, last year’s beaten finalists, join Hampstead & Westminster in the Women’s Premier Division Final after beating Wimbledon 2-0 in a dominant performance, where Wimbledon were restricted to very few chances. 

Martha Taylor’s goal from a penalty corner routine that was worked back to her as the injector gave the hosts the advantage via a Wimbledon deflection with eight minutes on the clock before Alice Sharp added a second midway through the second period to cap off a fluid counter-attack.

The majority of the chances for the rest of the match also came the way of David Beckett’s side as Wimbledon tasted defeat at their first ever Women’s Premier Division Finals.

Giselle Ansley came close to adding a third s she was denied from a penalty corner before Amy Costello also flicked narrowly wide at another set piece.

At the other end, Wimbledon had their best chance from a corner of their own as captain Anna Toman saw a slap cleared off the line.

Costello then forced Nicki Cochrane into a good save from another corner as Surbiton earned multiple PCs in quick succession.

Wimbledon’s efforts to push forward throughout the second half were rebuffed as they struggled to beat Surbiton’s well-structured high-press, though Surbiton’s chances were also few and far between in the final two quarters despite their dominance of the ball for large spells.

Qualification for tomorrow’s Final means a chance at a ninth title in 10 for Surbiton, with opponents Hampstead & Westminster finishing as runners-up in 2021/22 but there were no Play-Offs in that season.

East Grinstead and Wimbledon will face off in tomorrow’s third/fourth-place play-off.


Surbiton v Hampstead and Westminster

Surbiton’s men followed up their women’s team with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Hampstead & Westminster, who are making their first League Finals appearance since 2019.

First-half goals from Stu Rushmere and Tim Nurse ensured that a third consecutive game had a scoreline of 2-0 at half-time before Hampstead & Westminster looked to press on in the third period.

Josh Kelly’s goal for Andrew Wilson’s side, though, was immediately cancelled out by a Gareth Furlong drag-flick at the other end to leave the Padddington Recreational outfit two goals behind once again. Struan Walker, capped for the first time by Great Britain earlier this season, added a fourth late on to seal Surbiton’s spot in next season’s Euro Hockey League and keep hopes alive for a double Finals win. 

Mark Pearn’s side took just seven minutes to hit the front in the sole chance of the first period, with Hampstead having a couple of chances through Sam Apoola and then James Oates to level the scored.

But, it was Surbiton who added a second less than sixty seconds from the half-time whistle as Nurse lifted the ball over Toby Reynolds-Cotterill from close range. 

James Mazarelo was in good form as Wilson’s side looked to reduce the arrears after the break, denying Matt Guise-Brown with a superb diving save from a penalty corner.

Despite saving from captain Sam French less than two minutes later, Mazarelo could do nothing to stop Kelly from close range as the deficit was halved. 

Immediately, though, Pearn’s men rallied and earned a penalty corner which beat the postman from Furlong, the goal all-but securing Surbiton’s final spot. 

Kei Kaeppeler was next to call the Great Britain ‘keeper into action with a close-range deflection before the end of the third quarter. 

Surbiton controlled the game much better in the final period and could have extended their lead midway through when Jack Hobkirk was denied by Toby Reynolds-Cotterill before Walker made it 4-1 with a brilliant, lowreverse finish into the far corner past the Great Britain and Wales shot-stopper.

Old Georgians v Wimbledon

A breathless encounter followed in the fourth and final semi as Old Georgians emerged victorious by the odd strike in a seven-goal thriller against Wimbledon, winning 4-3.

Ashley Jackson’s men looked to be cruising with a three-goal advantage at half-time courtesy of Ed Carson, Tom Carson and Liam Sanford but Wimbledon scored twice within the first six minutes of the third quarter through Ben Francis and captain Jack Waller to give themselves hope of a first Premier Division title since back-to-back titles in 2014/15 and 2015/16.

The Surrey side restored their two-goal lead soon after with a goal from Sam Hiha after he was initially denied by the impressive Ore Ogunlana before Sam Hooper reduced the deficit once again with seven minutes to play.

Despite taking off Ogunlana, Wimbledon’s late pressure did not create many clear-cut opportunities and Old Georgians were able to hold on to head into tomorrow’s Final against Surbiton harbouring hopes of a third consecutive title. 

Ogunlana was busy throughout and saved to deny Matt Brown from a penalty corner after just three minutes but it took until the quarter of an hour mark until Jackson’s side took the lead. Henry Weir hit a cross-field pass with an aerial down the line following – the ball then driven across the circle for Ed Carson volleying into the roof of the net. 

Ogunlanaa denied Brown again from another corner early on in the second quarter before Chris Griffiths hit a shot wide from Forsyth’s pass, squandering a glorious chance for 2-0. 

Jackson’s passing range was then on full show as he brilliantly released Forsyth, who played the ball across goal for Tom Carson to slide in and deflect past the outstretched Ogunlana.

Old Georgians continued to dominate with Forsyth then fouled as he was about to take a shot, though Ogunlana saved the resultant penalty stroke. 

By this point, Old Georgians were flying and scored a third at the end of the second period with James Carson releasing Forsyth, who continued to cause problems, the Great Britain and Scotland forward unselfishly teeing up Sanford for his second goal in as many matches. 

Francis immediately reduced the arrears after the break with a deflection inside 30 seconds of the second half as the game moved towards a frantic, breathless second half. 

Ogunlana made a triple save at the other end to keep the score at 3-1 before denying Tom Carson once more but it was Wimbledon who scored the next goal from a quick long corner, with Waller finding space inside the circle to smash past George Pinner. 

Chris Proctor saw a goal disallowed for backtick as the end-to-end nature of the third quarter continued before Hiha eventually added another for Jackson’s side to put the St. George’s College outfit two goals to the good.

Griffiths and Proctor were once again denied before Pinner saved from Connor Greentree at the other end, with Ogunlana making yet another save before his withdrawal with eight minutes remaining. 

A minute later, Hooper converted a penalty corner to make things nervy for the reigning champions but Old Georgians were able to see out the game fairly comfortably to secure their spot in the final.

Old Georgians and Surbiton have already secured Euro Hockey League qualification for 2024/25, with the winner of tomorrow’s third/fourth-place play-off between Hampstead & Westminster and Wimbledon also qualifying.

Sunday, 14th April, 2024:

10.00     Women’s 3rd/4th play-off – East Grinstead vs. Wimbledon

12.15     Men’s 3rd/4th play-off – Hampstead & Westminster vs. Wimbledon

14.30     Women’s final – Hampstead & Westminster vs. Surbiton

17.00     Men’s final – Surbiton vs. Old Georgians

Tickets are still available for tomorrow’s finals and third/fourth-place play-off matches here.

by England Hockeyl

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