England: England Hockey League 2023/24 Premier Division Weekend 16 Preview

Last year’s Champions Old Georgians host Beeston (6pm) on the back of a 12-4 thumping of the midlands side in October.

Sam Ward, missing this weekend, scored six that day, and bagged a hat-trick when OGs beat Beeston 4-1 in the first match of League Finals last season.

Pool A will also have a familiar make-up, with all four sides finishing in the same position in the Premier Division for two seasons’ running.

The four-strong pool also features Holcombe, who take on Hampstead & Westminster at home (6pm).

Holcombe beat Hampstead 2-1 at home a fortnight ago, while the Londoners travel on a three-game losing streak and have won once in their last six games.

Pool B also features three of the four sides who contested last season’s phase 3, with Southgate having replaced Reading.

Kwan Browne’s side, on a losing run of six matches, make the trip to Wimbledon (6pm), who have already tasted the league double over Premier Division newcomers Southgate this season.

This will also be a meeting of penalty stroke specialists: Ian Sloan netting seven and Browne six already this season.

Surbiton have won all three home meetings against Oxted ahead of their 6pm fixture. Oxted’s only win came in October 2020 when they won 1-0 at Oxted School.

In the relegation play-offs, Reading will be demoted if Cardiff & Met win Saturday’s meeting in the Welsh capital (6pm).

Cardiff & Met, aiming for a first home victory this season, are unbeaten in their last two league games after losing eight on the trot. This included their last encounter with Reading this month (5-1 away win).

East Grinstead, safe from relegation after narrowly failing to qualify for a top eight berth, take on University of Nottingham at home (6pm).

University of Nottingham moved off the bottom this week after losing their first 11 matches in 2023-24. With Cardiff & Met three points ahead with three fixtures left, UoN will now look to keep the pressure on their rivals heading into their meeting next Saturday.

Pool A sides Hampstead & Westminster and University of Nottingham, who meet on Saturday at Paddington Rec (2pm), both harbour differing Premier Division Finals aspirations this weekend, as teams start their bid for a place at next month’s domestic season finale.

H&W fell short of the final and finished third at last year’s League Finals while University of Nottingham failed to qualify for the semi-finals. On Saturday, hosts H&W will be looking for a hat-trick of league victories this season over UoN after 4-1 and 3-1 successes.

Clifton Robinsons have only beaten Surbiton once in the Premier Division in four years ahead of the Bristol side’s trip to Sugden Road. 

Surbiton have won the last three matches at Sugden Road since then, while Giselle Ansley will head into the match – both teams reached last season’s Finals – aiming to score for the fourth match in succession.

In Pool B, in-form hosts East Grinstead take on Wimbledon (4pm), who qualified from the Lower Six.

Wimbledon are unbeaten against the current league champions over the last two seasons, the West Sussex side’s last victory over the Londoners falling last March.

Mia Moore, who has scored in four of Reading’s last five, will hope to continue her side’s form as they make a first League Finals appearance at Sonning Lane (5pm).

Opponents Bowdon, also competing in their first top eight, will be aiming to halt a five-match losing run and find their first win in 13.

The first of three final matches in the bottom four sees Beeston take on Loughborough Students (2pm) in a crunch relegation play-off battle.

The Bees are five points behind hosts Students, who have beaten their rivals twice already this season and Beth Alexander netting in both.

If Loughborough win for a third time Beeston will be relegated; that’s if University of Birmingham draw or win at already-relegated Isca & University of Exeter, who push back in Devon at 2pm.

UoB will also be looking for a hat-trick of wins this season, while Isca have lost their last 12 games.

by England Hockeyl

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