England: England Hockey League 2023/24 Premier Division Weekend 15 Preview

Local rivals East Grinstead and Oxted will go head-to-head (6pm) for qualification to Premier Division Finals on Saturday evening.

The standout fixture in the final round of matches in the regular season will be a winner-takes-all ticket to the top eight in Phase 3, with Beeston having already qualified from the Lower Six last weekend.

Oxted won 3-2 at Saint Hill in September, while the only meeting at Oxted was won by East Grinstead in 2020.

Hosts Oxted need to win to join Beeston, while a draw or East Grinstead victory will see the West Sussex side qualify.

Reading can lift themselves out of the relegation zone if they beat Cardiff & Met at Sonning Lane, with all men’s games on Saturday starting at 6pm. 

The bottom two sides have had a luckless run of form: Reading have won one and lost 10 of their last 11 games, while Cardiff & Met have drawn one and lost eight of their last nine.

Meanwhile, University of Nottingham host cross-road rivals Beeston. Beeston have won all three of their previous matches in this fixture.

In a crucial weekend bid to find points in the relegation fight, University of Nottingham, yet to keep a clean sheet this season, can go above Reading with a win and the Blues lose to Cardiff & Met.

In the Top Six, Hampstead & Westminster will be out to end Surbiton’s unbeaten record over Surbiton which stretches back to November 2021.

The heavyweights push back at Paddington Rec with Surbiton looking for the league double after a 5-2 win back in September.

H&W are guaranteed fifth place in the standings, with Surbiton battling with Wimbledon for second place, which guarantees an extra home match come Premier Division Finals.

Wimbledon will have to do it the hard way at league leaders Old Georgians on Saturday. 

Old Georgians have won their last two home games against Wimbledon, but this clash will be a match-up between two of English hockey’s form sides unbeaten in 2024.

Old Georgians are on a 13-game winning run stretching back to late September, while Karl Stagno’s side have won their last nine.

Southgate face Holcombe aiming to plug a five-game losing run, while Holcombe ended a run of three successive defeats last weekend.

*Stats compiled by Colin Pike

Reading head to Surbiton on Saturday (all games starting 2pm) with several goals in mind.

Surbiton hold an eight-point lead at the Women’s Premier Division summit ahead of their final game of the regular season at Sonning Lane.

While Reading secured a first ever home win against Surbiton in the Premier Division back in September, their only other top flight win came in the 2013/14 season in a 2-1 success.

Rebecca Halle scored Reading’s second goal then and is the last Blues player to score at Sugden Road against the multiple league champions. Reading have failed to score on their last four visits to Surbiton.

Heading into the final regular season game, Reading are battling with East Grinstead for second place and an extra home game in Premier Division Finals.

Both are level on points, with East Grinstead holding the better goal difference ahead of their away trip to University of Nottingham

This will be East Grinstead’s first visit to the University of Nottingham, while Sophie Bray has netted hat-tricks in their two previous meetings at home.

UoN will be aiming to avoid conceding six goals for the third match in a row.

Meanwhile, Hampstead & Westminster host Bowdon for the third time in four Premier Division meetings in the capital. The sides drew 1-1 last time out in November.

In the Lower Six, Isca & University of Exeter face Beeston at home in a key battle of the bottom two.

The Devonians are 12 points and a worse goal difference behind Loughborough with three games left.

Isca’s 2-0 victory against Beeston in October are so far their only points in a debut top flight season and a league double could prove crucial in their survival fight.

Lower Six leaders Wimbledon are on the road at University of Birmingham – a first visit since autumn 2022.

Their last three top flight matches have been drawn, while Alex Danson’s side haven’t conceded in 195 minutes of action.

Clifton Robinsons take on Loughborough Students at home. The Robbies have won five of seven Premier Division meetings by a single goal, which included their 2-1 success over the Students when the two last played in October.

by England Hockeyl

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