England: England Hockey League 2023/24: Weekend 14 Review

Sutton Coldfield took advantage of Buckingham’s participation in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Cup to extend their lead at the top of Division One North to five points thanks to a 3-0 win at Gloucester City. Emma McCabe, Vicky Woolford and Beth Peers scoring for Sutton. Swansea earned a potentially vital point in their battle to avoid the drop in a 1-1 draw at Olton & West Warwicks. This mean they go ninth, above Stourport, who lost 1-0 at home to Ben Rhydding and within two points of Wakefield  who went down 2-1 against Leicester City.

Surbiton 2s are within touching difference of the Division One South title and only need a point from one of their last four games to secure it. Their latest win was 2-1 at Canterbury. Harriet Bisdee and Amie Hunt scored for Surbiton and although Lucy Barnes pulled a goal back the equaliser didn’t come. With Surbiton unable to take up a top-flight place the battle for second place takes on extra significance. Barnes move into second after defeating Southgate 3-0 including a brace for Ellen Paterson. They are a point ahead of Holcombe who were defeated 2-1 at home by improving Harleston Magpies. Sevenoaks kept an outside chance of second with a 4-1 win against Team Bath Buccaneers who slip to bottom spot after Wimbledon 2s’ 2-0 win against Slough saw them climb two places.

There was no change at the top of Conference East where the top two Guildford and London Wayfarers both won. Guildford beat Spencer 4-1 and Wayfarers were made to work hard for a 1-0 win over bottom of the table Ipswich. Ninth placed Horsham went down 5-1 at Old Georgians and also saw East London extend the gap between them and safety to two points after they drew 1-1 at Old Loughtonians. In mid-table Hampstead & Westminster 2s beat Teddington 2-0.

There was a surprise at the top of Conference Midlands where leaders Repton were beaten 2-1 by St Albans. Tilly Hinds gave Repton an early lead but second half goals from Lucy Briscoe and Abigail Farrington turned the game around for St Albans who are now just three points off top spot. Cambridge City are a point behind Repton after their 1-0 win over Birmingham University 2s. Beeston 2s and Bedford drew 1-1 and Cannock won 3-1 at Doncaster. In the battle of the bottom two Oxford University won 4-2 at Belper to keep their slim hopes of avoiding the drop alive.   

Conference North leaders Pendle Forest were held to a 1-1 draw at Harrogate where Holly Payne equalised for the home side with just a minute left on the clock after Freya Bithell had put Forest ahead. However Fylde in second place were unable to take advantage of the slip going down to a 3-0 defeat at Didsbury Northern. The Bowdon 2s – Leeds game was frozen off and Durham 2s beat Newcastle 2-1 in the all-University game. At the foot of the table Timperley grabbed a crucial 3-2 win over Brooklands Poynton who are now eight points from safety.

The Conference West title race has become an all-Bristol battle with Bristo Firebrands and Clifotn Robinsons 2 trading positions almost weekly. This week Firebrands go top after a 2-1 win over struggling Basingstoke, Martha Howells and Isabella Slawin scoring their goals after Claire Bowman gave Basingstoke the lead. Clifton slipped to second after being held 1-1 by bottom of the table Fareham.   Trojans missed the chance to get within three points of the top losing 6-2 at home to Exter who join them on 25 points. Witney won 3-2 at Cheltenham and Reading 2s were also successful on the road winning 4-2 at Oxford Hawks.   

Division One North leaders Bowdon were held to a 1-1 draw at Deeside Ramblers but still have a nine point lead at the top of the table. Loughborough Students are in second after a 2-1 win at Durham University but if they fail to win this weekend and Bowdon do then the title will be heading to Cheshire.  At the other end of the table Birmingham University came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Cambridge City with three goals in the last quarter including a brace for Harvey Edwards. This means  Cambridge are now nine points from safety. Leeds are one point further back following their 6-2 reverse at Harborne for whom Cameron Ley and Alex Idoine both scored twice. Daniel Sulway held his nerve to convert a 70th minute stroke to give and Olton & West Warwicks a 3-2 win over Brooklands MU.

A twelfth successive win for Richmond takes them to the brink of the Division One South crown. They beat bottom the table Brighton & Hove 3-1 and a win this weekend will secure top spot. With Brighton all but down focus was on the second relegation place. Team Bath Buccaneers secured a vital three points in a 3-2 win over Sevenoaks thanks to a last-minute corner conversion from Toby Day.  They are now only a point behind Sevenoaks but two ahead of Havant in ninth who fell to a 3-0 defeat at Canterbury. Elsewhere Teddington went second after beating Old Cranleighan 3-2 and Old Loughtonians and Exeter University drew 1-1.

Conference East leaders Indian Gymkhana saw their lead at the top of the table reduced to three points after being held to a 2-2 draw at Surbiton. Second placed London Wayfarers were the day’s top scorers putting nine past Ipswich without reply, Jerry Smith scoring four of them. Third placed Guildford won 3-0 at bottom of the table Old Georgians. Hampstead & Westminster 2s won 4-2 at Bromley & Beckenham who were joined on 13 points, three above the relegation zone, by Wimbledon 2s who had an important 4-3 win over Spencer.

A 4-1 win over fellow University side Birmingham 2s saw Nottingham University stay four points clear in Conference Midlands. Josh Biddlecombe hit a hat-trick for the leaders. Nottingham would not be promoted if their 1st team were relegated from the Premier Division and Stourport retain potentially crucial second place but were pushed all the way by Banbury who were edged out 3-2. St Albans eased relegation fears with a 4-1 win at Harleston Magpies. City of Peterborough remain bottom but moved to within a point of Bedford after defeating them 4-1 including a hat trick for Joe Finding. Barford Tigers and Norwich City drew 1-1.

Lindum bounced back after last weekend’s defeat with a 5-1 defeat of Ben Rhydding to stay three points clear in Conference North. Timperley and Doncaster are in joint second. Whilst Timperley had a routine 3-0 win over Brooklands MU 2s, Doncaster were involved in a seesaw battle with Sheffield winning 6-5, Matt Gibson scoring four of their goals. Bottom of the table Belper lost 7-0 at Wakefield and an Ethan Hoddle hat-trick gave Beeston an important point in the fight to avoid the drop, in a 3-3 draw at ninth placed Oxton.

Bristol University look set to make an immediate return out of Conference West with an eight point lead and four games to go. They brushed aside bottom of the table Plymouth Marjon 7-0 on Sunday.  Second placed Isca beat Exeter University 2s 4-1 in their local derby.  Clifton Robinsons won 1-0 at Fareham and Ashmoor earned a useful point in their battle to avoid the drop in a 2-2 draw at Oxford Hawks. They  are now three points ahead of Cheltenham in ninth after the Gloucestershire side lost 3-0 at Chichester.      



by England Hockeyl

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