England: England Hockey League 2023/24 Premier Division Weekend 18 Preview

All eyes will be on Pool A as four Premier Division teams battle for the two remaining spots available to join Surbiton and Wimbledon at League Finals Weekend.

Hampstead & Westminster take on Beeston at Paddington Rec, while Old Georgians host Holcombe in a repeat of the 2023 final. Both matches start at 6pm.

Hampstead & Westminster can qualify with a win if Holcombe lose at Old Georgians or if Holcombe win, H&W and Holcombe will both be on six points.

Beeston can still qualify for next weekend’s showdown if they beat H&W and Holcombe lose, but three teams would be on three points, so goal difference could prove decisive.

H&W have lost four of their last five games, while the visitors will look to in-form Jamie Rawlings, who has scored nine goals in his last six matches for the Bees. H&W beat Beeston 4-2 in their previous top flight encounter.

Old Georgians will hope for a bumper crowd at St George’s College following their breakthrough Euro Hockey League bronze medal on Easter Monday.

It’s permutations aplenty. A Holcombe win at Old Georgians would secure League Finals qualification as Holcombe and Old Georgians would both be on six points, but Holcombe’s goal difference would be better than Old Georgians. 

If H&W win against Beeston, Holcombe need to beat Old Georgians to qualify. 

Meanwhile, Oxted travel to Southgate in their final game of the season. Neither team can qualify after Southgate lost a shoot-out to Surbiton 4-1 after a 2-2 draw and Oxted were defeated 1-0 at Wimbledon.

Southgate won their only meeting this season, 6-2 at home, while Oxted have yet to keep a clean sheet this season.

In the relegation play-off, Cardiff & Met host East Grinstead.

The Welsh side are set to retain Premier Division status, with a three-point lead over Reading and an 11 goal superior goal difference.

Reading, yet to win at home, take on already-relegated University of Nottingham after keeping alive their slim hopes of survival with a 4-3 win at East Grinstead last time out.

The race to the 2023-24 Premier Division finals next weekend at Surbiton is going down to the wire on Saturday with the two remaining tickets on offer, while relegation will also be decided this weekend.

All four teams in Pool B can still qualify ahead of the final day action on Saturday afternoon (all 2pm start times).

East Grinstead host Reading while Bowdon entertain Wimbledon

Pool B currently reads: East Grinstead 5 pts; Reading 3 pts (GD +3); Wimbledon 3 pts (GD 0); Bowdon 1 point.

Simply put, a win for East Grinstead, Reading or Wimbledon would mean they will join Surbiton and Hampstead & Westminster, who have already qualified from Pool A. For Bowdon to qualify they need to win and for Reading to lose.  There are more permutations if either or both games are drawn.

Reading head to West Sussex for the first time this season following East Grinstead’s brace of 4-3 and 4-1 wins at Sonning Lane in October and February respectively.

East Grinstead will be full of confidence after finishing fifth in their debut Women’s Euro Hockey League appearance last weekend.

Meanwhile, Bowdon, who last won a league game in October, host Wimbledon with the only meeting this season drawn 1-1 at Bowdon last October.

Surbiton and Hampstead & Westminster meet at Sugden Road having both qualified for the League Finals weekend.

Surbiton won the EuroHockey Club Trophy in Hamburg on Easter Monday and, like East Grinstead, will head into Finals Weekend in buoyant mood. 

They won all four games over Easter including stand out wins against hosts Der Club an der Alster in the pool stages and KHC Dragons from Belgium in the final.

Surbiton won the EuroHockey Club Trophy I in Hamburg on Easter Monday and, like East Grinstead, will head into Finals Weekend in buoyant mood. 

They bagged their wins over German (Der Club an der Alster) and Belgian clubs (KHC Dragons) and also achieved their biggest European win (8-1 v Butterfly Roma).

University of Nottingham host Clifton Robinsons, with both clubs playing their final game of the season.

Their only meeting in this 2023-24 Premier Division finished a 3-3 draw in November.

In the relegation tussle, Beeston need to beat Isca & University of Exeter to harbour any intention of staying up in the top flight.

Beeston will also hope that Loughborough Students, who will play Premier Division hockey next season, can win at University of Birmingham and the Bees can overcome a six goal inferior goal difference.

UoB need a point to make sure of safety, if Beeston beat Isca, but could stay up on goal difference if they lose and Beeston win.

by England Hockeyl

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