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

Old Georgians will head into England Hockey’s League Finals weekend on the back of 17 successive victories after the domestic men’s champions confirmed their semi-final place on Saturday.

Ashley Jackson’s side beat Holcombe 4-2 at St George’s College, with Henry Weir paving the way for victory after scoring from two second-half penalty corner goals.

Old Georgians will take on Wimbledon in a repeat of last year’s semi-final, while Holcombe became the only side from the 2023 line-up not to qualify.

Hampstead & Westminster took Holcombe’s place after finishing second following a second 4-2 win of the season over Beeston, who suffered a fourth defeat in a row.

After losing five of six games before the Pool stage, H&W have found late season form and came from 2-1 down to score three times in eight minutes, finished with Matt Guise-Brown’s 49th minute penalty corner goal.

H&W are set to face Surbiton in the semi-finals. The League Finals hosts beat Wimbledon to top spot in Pool B after holding off their rivals 3-0 in a shoot-out after the game finished 1-1 in normal time. Both teams had already qualified.

Stu Rushmere’s 23rd minute open play strike was cancelled out by Euan Gilmour. Rushmere then scored Surbiton’s third in the shoot-out.

Southgate also won their shoot-out 3-1 over Oxted after a 3-3 draw. Matt Ramshaw scored a 70th minute penalty stroke as he netted for the third game running.

Relegation play-offs

A gallant point, in a 2-2 draw with East Grinstead, enabled Cardiff & Met to survive their first ever season in the Men’s Premier Division.

This was Cardiff & Met’s fourth draw in the last five games.

After Simon Faulkner’s early opener, Rhys Gowman and Jack Pritchard scored two in as many minutes before James Smith netted for EG moments later, in the 56h minute.

Reading failed to win a single home game during the season after being held 2-2 by University of Nottingham.

Benjamin Mackey scored a last minute goal for Reading, who finished three points behind Cardiff with an inferior goal difference.

It means that University of Nottingham and Reading are relegated together to Division One after both were promoted in the 2021-22 season.

*Stats provided by Colin Pike

Current champions East Grinstead made sure of their place in League Finals weekend to finish top of Pool B on a nervy Saturday, as Beeston were relegated to Division One.

The West Sussex side overcame Reading 2-1 and will head into this weekend’s league denouement on the back of 13 matches unbeaten.

East Grinstead were indebted to a second-half rally following Phoebe Nixon’s opener for Reading, as Grace Balsdon’s 45th minute penalty stroke was followed up by Sophie Bray’s winner eight minutes from time.

Reading, with their second 2-1 loss in succession, missed out on Finals weekend having finished third in the Premier Division at the end of Phase 2.

Wimbledon beat Bowdon to qualify for League Finals Weekend for the first time.

Wimbledon, who failed to qualify in 2022-23 after finishing second in the Premier Division, saw Amelie Rees and Megan Crowson score either side of the break to secure their place.

Alex Danson-Bennett’s side will take on League Finals’ hosts Surbiton in the semi-final.

Surbiton beat Hampstead & Westminster for the third time this season courtesy of a 4-1 win.

Holly Hunt scored H&W’s opener inside 10 minutes before Surbiton’s GB quartet of Hannah French, Giselle Ansley, Amy Costello and Izzy Petter secured top spot in Pool A.

H&W were looking for only their second top flight win against Surbiton since promotion five years ago and are now set to face East Grinstead in the semi-finals.

The dead rubber between University of Nottingham and Clifton Robinsons finished 3-2 to UoN. 

Kea Murray scored a 67th minute winner, as victory ended a run of six successive defeats for Nottingham.

Meanwhile, Beeston were relegated to the second tier after six seasons in the Premier Division.

A combination of Beeston’s 5-2 win over Isca & University of Exeter and University of Birmingham’s 2-1 defeat to Loughborough Students were not enough to avoid relegation on a far inferior goal difference.

Beeston came from 2-1 down to score three in 12 minutes to see off Isca’s bid for a rare win. The last team to be relegated with four points was Slough in the 2012-13 season.

UoB, a top flight side since 2010, retained their Premier Division status after losing to the Students for the first time this season. Victory was the Students’ fourth away in succession.

by England Hockeyl

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