England: England Hockey League 2023/24 Premier Division Weekend 9 Preview

Southgate can secure the final spot in the Top 6 in the standout match of the weekend in the Men’s Premier Division when they host East Grinstead (6pm).

The only founder members from 1988-89 currently in the Premier Division take on each other, with Southgate needing one win from their final two matches to take the sixth spot.

This will be a first Premier Division meeting since 2015 when Southgate won 3-2 at home. East Grinstead have won their four other encounters at Southgate this century.

Should they prevail again, East Grinstead will look to take six points in their double header weekend at home to Reading on Sunday (4pm) following their abandoned game due to a waterlogged pitch at Sonning Lane.

A day earlier, Reading face a trip to Wimbledon (6pm). The Londoners won the double last season while Reading last won at Wimbledon eight years ago. 

Oxted and Beeston will also be keeping eyes on the outcome at Southgate, with their Top 6 hopes still in the balance.

Oxted face a tough afternoon with a home clash against champions and leaders Old Georgians (16:30) and their top goalscorer Sam Ward (21 and counting from nine matches).

Old Georgians are on a seven-game winning streak since a 3-2 home defeat to Surbiton in September.

Oxted’s only home win over OGs came in 2018 when they won 4-1 in the Conference East.

Beeston, meanwhile, will need to overturn Hampstead & Westminster’s four-year unbeaten streak in Nottingham when the two push back (6pm).

They last met at Beeston in March when Hampstead won 4-2 in League Finals Pool A, while this season Beeston have conceded 35 goals in their last four games.

Conversely, Surbiton have racked up 32 in their last four ahead of their home meeting with University of Nottingham (6pm). 

Surbiton won their only previous meeting 4-0 at home last November.

Fellow high-scorers Holcombe, three points behind Old Georgians and Surbiton, are also at home (6pm) against Cardiff & Met. It will be a first National League meeting.

Two games left in Vitality Women’s Premier Division Phase 1 and there are six clubs chasing Top 6 berths with just two points separating them. The next two weekends will be nervy affairs.

Fourth-placed Bowdon are one of three clubs nestled on 14 points and can secure a Top 6 place with a home win over Surbiton (13:30) on Saturday.

Bowdon’s unbeaten start ended last weekend while form and recent records against the league leaders suggest it will be a tough afternoon.

Surbiton last visited Bowdon in 2019 when they won 3-1, while Bowdon’s only home win (2-1) over the Londoners came in February 2013. It has been 237 minutes since Surbiton last conceded with three successive clean sheets.

Hampstead & Westminster and University of Nottingham can also secure their Phase 2 place in the Top 6 with wins this weekend.

Hampstead & Westminster travel to out-of-form Beeston (4pm) where the Londoners have won all four matches since the teams first met in the 2019-20 season.

Their 4-1 win in 2019 was also H&W’s first-ever Premier Division match after winning promotion to the top flight. Meanwhile, Beeston have lost six of their last seven matches.

Clifton Robinsons’ hosting of University of Nottingham (12:15) looks set to be a tight affair, with the winner putting themselves in the Top 6 hotseat.

The teams have each won once in their two meetings, while Maddie Axford, called up for England’s campaign at the Junior World Cup later this month, has scored in both games for UoN.

East Grinstead play two of the three bottom sides as the champions aim to finish Phase 1 on a high. They host Isca & University (4pm) in their first National League meetings. 

EG’s Tess Howard has scored in five of the last six matches, while Isca hope to cause a surprise after losing their last five games.

University of Birmingham are five points off sixth and need to win their last two matches, starting with a home fixture against Loughborough Students (14:30) and hope results fall their way.

Birmingham are unbeaten in five meetings against their fellow students, with two wins.

Seventh-placed Wimbledon travel to second-placed Reading (4pm). 

Their last meeting was on the opening day last season when Wimbledon won 1-0 in Reading’s first match back in the top-flight. Reading have yet to score against Wimbledon in previous meetings outside the Premier Division.

* All stats provided by Colin Pike

by England Hockeyl

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