England: England Hockey League 2023/24 Premier Division Weekend 14 Preview

The Top Six teams are jostling for form and bragging rights ahead of Premier Division Finals later this month.

East Grinstead, on a five-match winning run, can lay claim to being the top flight’s form side ahead of their hosting of Hampstead & Westminster on Saturday (4pm). 

It is 185 minutes since Theo Dowse’s side last conceded, while H&W haven’t tasted victory at East Grinstead in their last three visits. With two games left of the regular season, the higher the finish will mean more home games come Premier Division Finals later this month.

Bowdon have only beaten Surbiton once in 17 meetings ahead of their trip south to Sugden Road (4:30pm) for the first time since 2019.

Bowdon will be looking for their first goal in three games against a side which clinched a European berth for 2025 last weekend.

Third-placed Reading host University of Nottingham at Sonning Lane (2:30pm). UoN’s 4-3 victory at home in October was Reading’s first defeat of the season.

In Lower Six action, Wimbledon and Clifton Robinsons secured Top Eight tickets last weekend.

The two face off at Raynes Park (2pm) with Robbies last finding success against Wimbledon back in 1993.

Wimbledon’s clean sheet at Beeston last weekend was their second of the season, while the Bristol outfit haven’t kept one since their 2-0 opening day win at Isca & University of Exeter.

Loughborough Students will visit Beeston for the first time since 2021 (4pm). 

The Students have won both previous Premier Division meetings in Nottingham – 2-1 in 2021-22 and 1-0 in 2019-20.

Meanwhile, Isca & University of Exeter travel to University of Birmingham (2:20pm) looking to pick up crucial points and avoid the drop back to Division One.

UoB ran out 2-0 winners at Isca in November, Birmingham’s only clean sheet of the season to date.

Old Georgians can seal a European spot with a Top Six victory and Surbiton failing to find a positive result this weekend in the Men’s Premier Division.

Old Georgians host Southgate (6pm), who are on a four-game losing streak since last facing Saturday’s opponents.

This will be their third meeting in six years since first clashing in Conference East in 2018.

Surbiton, three points behind Old Georgians, will be hoping to keep their fine away form at Wimbledon intact on Saturday afternoon (4pm).

Mark Pearn’s side are unbeaten in their last six matches at Raynes Park.

Wimbledon will be playing their second home game in under 48 hours after beating Holcombe 3-1 last night in a rearranged fixture.

Ian Sloan, Charlie Stubbings and Sam Hooper scored before Tim Guise-Brown netted a consolation for Holcombe, who are still missing Phil Roper and Nick Bandurak.

Holcombe also have little time to recover and face Hampstead & Westminster at Holcombe Park (6:30pm).

H&W last won at Holcombe in September 2019 when they ran out 6-1 winners. The Medway side won 5-1 in November in London.

In the Lower Six, Oxted can secure a ticket to Premier Division Finals with a win over Beeston in Nottingham. A win for Beeston would also be enough for them to qualify.

The top two in the Lower Six go head-to-head at Nottingham Hockey Centre (6pm) where Oxted have won on their last two visits. Both teams have won three of their last four league matches.

With Beeston leading by a point over Oxted, East Grinstead are also in the mix for a top two berth and Premier Division Finals’ qualification.

They face Reading at Saint Hill (6pm) on Saturday evening. While the hosts’ form has fluctuated in their last five matches (three wins and two losses), Reading have lost nine of their last 10 league games.

Meanwhile, Cardiff & Met host University of Nottingham (6pm).  After beating UoN away in October, the Welsh side have lost all eight matches and will hope to find a first home win of the season.

The match-up is a crucial one as both sides battle to avoid the drop and the bottom four sides playing each other once more.

*All stats courtesy of Colin Pike

by England Hockeyl

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