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

Bowdon saw their unbeaten record end to in-form Reading, who put themselves in prime position for a Top 6 place in the Vitality Women’s Premier Division ahead of a six-strong chasing pack.

The only club across the Premier Division to be unbeaten before the weekend, Bowdon lost out to Reading 2-1 at Sonning Lane. Aine Curran had given the visitors an eighth-minute lead before Reading struck back with strikes from Caroline Spence and Mia Moore.

Reading have now won three of their last four and hold second place behind Surbiton, who maintained their position at the top thanks to a 5-0 win at University of Nottingham and a spread of goals from former and current GB internationals.

Hannah Martin led the way with a double, Sophie Hamilton opened the scoring, while Leah Wilkinson and Sarah Evans also got in on the act to leave Surbiton five points clear at the top. It was the first time UoN had failed to score this season.

East Grinstead had the chance to move into third after going 2-0 up against University of Birmingham. Grace Balsdon scored from a penalty corner and Tess Howard’s fine lifted goal from a solo turnover break gave EG the lead inside 10 minutes. 

But the students ground out their fourth 2-2 draw of the season when Lily Sokhi and Lottie Hobson scored from open play after the break. 

It was EG’s first draw of the season and means that they are in a tussle still to secure a Top 6 place with two points separating third and eighth.

Hampstead & Westminster are finding form at the right time with a second successive clean sheet following a 5-0 win at home to Clifton Robinsons, who have now won once in their last six.

Madi Ratcliffe scored twice in five minutes (53, 58) while Anna O’Flanagan also netted a brace (5, 70) either side of Lily Owsley’s goal from a 36th-minute penalty corner.

Loughborough Students climbed off second bottom and leapfrogged Beeston after a 2-1 home win.

Cerys Miller (6) had given the visitors the lead before Lorna Alexander struck back a minute later and Beth Alexander (20) scored what proved to be the winning goal.

Isca & University of Exeter notched their fifth successive league defeat as Wimbledon came away with a vital 2-1 win to keep up their Top 6 hopes.

Georgie Gardens gave the hosts a fourth-minute lead, but a third win in a row over Isca following their Division 1 clashes was secured through Becky Manton and Fiona Burnet.

*Stats provided by Colin Pike

Old Georgians and Surbiton both hit the 50-goal mark after the ninth round of matches in the Men’s Premier Division, while an exciting battle has emerged for the final ticket on offer to the Top 6.

Champions Old Georgians beat East Grinstead 13-0 in a record Premier Division victory and became only the second side to hit that number in the men’s top flight. Saturday night’s beaten opponents East Grinstead had also lost 13-3 at Cannock in 1999.

Sam Ward and Alan Forsyth both scored four each for Old Georgians, while the three Carson brothers also netted in a game which was briefly halted late on after a rain deluge at Saint Hill.

With a game in hand following a rain abandonment, East Grinstead still have a chance to reach the Top 6 and face Southgate in the first of their crucial double header this weekend.

Southgate made it three wins out of four with a fine 6-2 win over Top 6 rivals Oxted and Kwan Browne’s side now need one win to seal their Top 6 place.

Jack Middleton scored twice in five minutes as Southgate moved ahead 3-1 in the first-half, while Matt Ramshaw’s hat-trick goal for Southgate was their fourth of the season scored in the 70th minute.

Oxted conceded six goals for the second successive away game after losing 6-0 last month at Surbiton last month, who continued their Phase 1 blitz with  a 9-0- win over Reading.

Mark Pearn’s side have now scored 40 goals in their last six games since losing 3-2 at home to Holcombe in September. Struan Walker scored four for the second time this season.

It was raining goals in Kent as Holcombe secured a Top 6 berth courtesy of a 10-0 victory over Beeston.

It was Holcombe’s second successive double-digit victory following their 12-1 win at University of Nottingham last week.

GB internationals Nick Bandurak and Phil Roper netted braces, while Thomas Russell went one better with a hat-trick (8, 46, 52).

Wimbledon also confirmed a Top 6 spot following a 6-0 win over University of Nottingham, who are still looking for their first points of the season after nine successive defeats.

Euan Gilmour and Sam Hooper both scored twice for Wimbledon, who secured their sixth win from nine. 

Coach Karl Stagno said: “We didn’t speak about the Top 6 but we’re pleased to get there.

“We had one hiccup against Hampstead & Westminster who won to their credit, while the Old Georgians and  Surbiton games were 50-50 and we played well in both. All the others have gone to plan.”

In their first National League meeting, H&W got back to winning ways after two defeats with a 4-0 win at home against Cardiff & Met.

Sam Apoola kept up his scoring form with H&W’s opener before goals from Tom Crowson, Josh Kelly and Sam French.

by England Hockeyl

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