England: England Hockey League 2023/24 Premier Division Weekend 17 Review

Surbiton and Wimbledon both qualified for the semi-finals of April’s League Finals Weekend after tight Pool B matches.

It took a tense shoot-out for Surbiton to secure the extra point over Southgate and confirm their participation on their home ground at next month’s Finals.

After Matt Ramshaw had given the visitors an early lead, Struan Walker (his 22nd goal of the season) and Ben Park, in the 62nd minute, then gave Surbiton the upper hand before Teage Marcano equalised a minute later. Surbiton won the shoot-out 3-1.

Wimbledon followed Surbiton into Finals Weekend after their second victory in Pool B, Ben Francis scoring 10 minutes from time in a 1-0 win over Oxted.

Wimbledon have now won 11 of their last 12 games as they accrued a first clean sheet since February.

All four clubs can still qualify from Pool A with Old Georgians heading into the final round of games on April 6 leading the quartet after their third victory over Hampstead & Westminster this season.

For the third match running, champions OGs came from behind, this time it was Alan Forsyth’s two goals in four second-half minutes after Josh Kelly had given H&W the lead.

Holcombe beat Beeston for the second time this season as the returning Nick Bandurak fired his first goals since November.

The GB forward netted either side of the break as Holcombe ran out 5-2 winners.

There were four goals in five minutes in the final quarter as Beeston threatened a remarkable comeback, with Jamie Rawlings and Henry Croft, with his 23rd of the season, scoring for the Bees. But Thomas Russell and Alex Pendle also scored for Holcs to keep their rivals at bay.

Cardiff & Met’s point in a 1-1 draw saw University of Nottingham relegated to Division One after two seasons in the top flight.

Louis Tipper had given UoN a second-half lead before Tom Wood levelled in the 49th minute.

Reading’s 4-3 win at East Grinstead gave the Berkshire side a Premier Division lifeline.

Their top-flight status hangs by a thread as they trail Cardiff & Met by three points with an 11 goal inferior goal difference.

Tom Minall’s two goals helped Reading into a 4-1 lead before EG rallied with two late goals to set up a nervy climax.

Surbiton and Hampstead & Westminster became the first two women’s teams to qualify for next month’s Finals Weekend, with the remaining two tickets to be decided after the Easter break.

Hampstead & Westminster scored five goals against Clifton Robinsons for the second time this season at home, the latest coming with a 5-1 win on Saturday at Paddington Rec.

Madi Ratcliffe moved clear as the league’s top goalscorer, the Australian blasting a brace to continue her run of scoring in her last four games. Sarah Robertson, Olivia Hamilton and Philippa Lewis also scored.

Olivia’s sister Sophie also netted – the first time they have scored on the same day in the Premier Division – as Surbiton cruised to a 6-2 win over University of Nottingham. 

Meg Dowthwaite and Amy Costello both scored braces as UoN’s Finals Weekend hopes were dashed.

Surbiton played without a goalkeeper for 62 minutes after Sabbie Heesh picked up a knee injury trying to stop Jordan Homann’s eighth minute equaliser.

In Pool B, all four clubs can still qualify for Finals Weekend. East Grinstead were two minutes from securing a berth until Bowdon’s Aine Curran popped up with a 68th minute equaliser at Saint Hill. Biba Mills had given the hosts an eighth minute lead before EG secured an extra point in the shoot-out.

Bowdon coach Nick Clark said: “We fought really hard to get a draw and the late goal was very pleasing. It’s been a difficult Phase 2 for us and we came back from a bad result against EG last time.

“Now we have put ourselves in a position with a win at home against Wimbledon will be really interesting. We drew with them last time before Chroistmas and we are confident we can give it a good go.”

Wimbledon kept their qualification hopes alive with a 2-1 victory at Reading. Becky Manton and Amelie Rees inflicted Reading’s third home defeat of the campaign.

In the relegation play-offs, Beeston recorded a crucial 3-2 victory at University of Birmingham to set up a final day battle for survival.

Beeston host Isca on April 6 and will need Loughborough Students to beat UoB and overcome a six-goal inferior goal difference.

The Students ensured their Premier Division survival with a 1-0 win over Isca & University of Exeter.

This was the third time Loughborough had beaten Isca by a single goal margin and the first time at home. Victory was sealed with Hollie Dring-Richardson’s fifth minute strike.

*Stats provided by Colin Pike

by England Hockeyl

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