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

Hampstead & Westminster scored their biggest Premier Division result to move within one match of securing a Finals Weekend ticket after a 9-3 win over University of Nottingham.

Holly Hunt, Madi Ratcliffe and Olivia Hamilton all scored twice as the Londoners eclipsed their 8-2 win in 2022 over the same side.

Claudia Swain and Maddie Axford both scored for UoN for the second weekend running, but H&W proved too good as they recorded a hat-trick of league victories this season.

“It was a great win and has given us a lot of confidence moving forwards through the competitive stage. I think we’ve been a little inconsistent this season but we’ve worked hard to get to this point,” said H&W’s Lily Owsley, who also scored in Saturday’s Pool A encounter.

“It was great to see it all come together when we needed it too and more importantly to see everyone enjoying themselves, because this is when we play our best. If we beat Clifton next weekend we should secure a place in the club play-offs which will be exciting.”

Surbiton, spurred on by Surbiton W2 clinching the Division One South title before they took to the pitch, ousted Clifton Robinsons 4-1.

Falling behind to a Phoebe Richards penalty corner goal in the fifth minute – Surbiton have conceded four goals in the first five minutes this season – the Sugden Road outfit scored four in 23 minutes, led by Hannah French’s brace.

East Grinstead top Pool B after a 2-1 win over Wimbledon at home, Olivia Breed and Sophie Bray scoring either side of half-time. 

Olivia Chilton, with her fourth in her last five games, pulled one back four minutes from time.

Reading notched their third win over Bowdon this season with a 4-0 success. On song Mia Moore netted for the third time against Bowdon and her fifth in the last six matches.

This was also Reading’s sixth clean sheet of the season, while Bowdon last scored in November.

In the relegation play-offs, Cerys Miller scored a vital leveller for Beeston seven minutes from time in a 1-1 draw against Loughborough Students.

The result leaves the Students five points ahead of the Bees with two matches left. 

Already relegated Isca & University of Exeter recorded their first draw of the season (1-1) against University of Birmingham, who need a point to secure Premier Division hockey next season.

The University of Birmingham’s eighth draw, in 17 matches, matched Slough’s run of eight in the 2018-19 season.

Regular season champions Old Georgians rallied from 4-2 down to score three in the last 12 minutes and record a thrilling 5-4 win over Beeston which kept their Finals Weekend hopes on track.

The Bees, who also scored four goals in defeat at St. George’s College earlier this season, had carved out a two-goal advantage through Henry Croft’s second-half brace.

But first Chris Griffiths and then two goals in the last three minutes from Ed Carson – Alan Forsyth had scored their opening goals –  fired OGs to a remarkable comeback and their 15th successive victory.

Griffiths said: “This was a three-game shoot-out and credit to Beeston who came out with a clear game plan, strong aerial and corner threat.

“Going into the final quarter 4-2 down was not how we saw the game going, but ultimately we knew we would have a lot of possession and chances created.

“Victory was massively important ahead of Hampstead this weekend and going into EHL the following week.”

In the other Pool A clash, Hampstead & Westminster won their first match at Holcombe since 2019.

The match was settled by Jolyon Morgan’s 41st minute strike which ended H&W’s three-game losing streak.

In a high-scoring Pool B weekend, Surbiton rolled over Oxted 8-1, with Luke Taylor and Gareth Furlong, called up this month to the GB men’s squad, both netting braces.

Taylor had also scored two, including a penalty stroke, against Oxted in their 6-0 home win earlier this season.

After conceding seven against OGs last time out, Wimbledon served up seven of their own in a 7-3 win over Southgate to put one foot into Finals Weekend.

Sam Hooper scored from four penalty corners as in-form Wimbledon accrued their 10th win in their last 11 fixtures.

In the relegation play-offs, East Grinstead were convincing 6-2 winners over University of Nottingham to leave them in a scrap for survival with Cardiff & Met and Reading.

UoN were no match for East Grinstead as in-form Max Lowrey set the tone with an opening penalty corner double.

Nottingham will be relegated if they don’t beat Cardiff & Met at home this weekend.

Meanwhile Reading need to win this weekend to avoid the drop after a 2-2 draw against Cardiff & Met in the Welsh capital.

Cardiff landed a telling blow with two goals in three minutes, from Scott Rawlings and Jack Pritchard late on, to deny Reading three crucial points.

by England Hockeyl

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