England: England Hockey League 2023/24 Premier Division Weekend 8 Preview

There is plenty at stake this month in the Men’s Premier Division, with three matches left to play in Phase 1 and Top 6 places still up for grabs.

Focus will centre on the remaining positions to be filled where Oxted’s visit to Southgate (6pm) takes top billing.

Both teams are locked on 10 points and with Southgate holding the better goal difference, Oxted will be aiming for three points at Southgate for the first time in the National League.

Oxted’s last match in Division One South in 2019-20 was at Southgate where the teams drew 4-4 in March 2020.

Oxted coach Nick Giles said: “It’s poised pretty well. It’s us and Southgate and people will be looking at it as almost a decider [with Beeston and East Grinstead still in the mix].

“It will be a tough and feisty game at their place. They are all the sort of games we want to play in aren’t they?”

East Grinstead will also need to win their remaining matches come the end of Phase 1 to harbour Top 6 aims.

They host Old Georgians on Saturday night (6pm), the champions and league leaders having won all three meetings in West Sussex by a 5-0 margin. The match will pit brothers Wesley and Ashley Jackson in opposition coaching roles.

Holcombe face Beeston at home (6pm) and a second Nottingham club in succession. It follows their 12-1 dismantling of University of Nottingham last weekend and Nick Bandurak returning after missing three games through injury to score six.

Beeston will be looking for their first win at Holcombe Park since February 2019.

Fifth place Hampstead & Westminster have lost their last two games (Old Georgians and East Grinstead) after a five-game winning streak and will be aiming to cement a Top 6 berth when they host Cardiff & Met (6pm). 

The Welsh outfit have conceded 17 goals in their last two games against Surbiton and Old Georgians.

Reading’s last win at Surbiton was in March 2012 when they left Sugden Road with a 4-3 win. They travel for a 6pm pushback against a Surbiton side who have kept three clean sheets in the last four.

University of Nottingham host Wimbledon (6:30pm). Their only previous meeting came last December when Wimbledon won 12-1 at Nottingham Hockey Centre.

The abandoned match last Saturday between Reading and East Grinstead will be played on Sunday 12 November at East Grinstead.

November is moving month in the Vitality Women’s Premier Division with nine points left to play for before Top 6 places are realised.

University of Nottingham’s brilliant early season form will see Matt Taylor’s fourth-placed side host league leaders Surbiton (4:30pm) as the students aim to underline Top 6 credentials.

Their only previous meeting came at Sugden Road last October when Surbiton won 4-0.

This looks set to be the match of the weekend, with UoN having scored and conceded goals in all eight matches, the only team in Premier Division to do so.

Sabbie Heesh has kept two consecutive clean sheets while Surbiton are chasing an eighth win in a row after their opening day defeat at Reading.

In the 2016-17 season, Reading were relegated and Bowdon finished ninth the last time these two sides met. 

It is a different prospect six years on as second placed Reading play host to Bowdon (1:30pm), in third. Bowdon last won at Reading 5-3 in March 2016.

Sixth placed Clifton Robinsons travel to Hampstead & Westminster for a 4pm push back.

Hampstead won 4-2 in last season’s third place playoff at Surbiton while Clifton’s only win at Paddington Rec came courtesy of a 2-1 victory in March.

Clifton’s Livvy Hoskins has scored for Robbies in five of their last six meetings, including League Finals.

Wimbledon are nestled behind these two clubs in eighth as the Londoners head to bottom side Isca & University of Exeter (2pm).

Wimbledon won 7-0 at Isca in February 2020 in Division One South on their way to promotion to the Premier Division.

East Grinstead will be chasing a third straight win on the spin on Saturday when they face University of Birmingham (4pm).

It will be a first meeting at Saint Hill since East Grinstead won 3-1 in League Finals Pool A in March. In all they have won five of their last six home meetings against the students.

Beeston sit five points behind a current Top 6 place and will look to resurrect their season when they head to Loughborough Students (2pm).

Beeston won 2-1 at Loughborough last November 2022 in their only meeting.

*Stats provided by Colin Pike

by England Hockeyl

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