England: England Hockey League 2023/24: Weekend 16 Review

Sutton Coldfield secured the Division One North title at the weekend as they won and saw nearest rivals Buckingham drop points in their two games.  Sutton made the shot trip to long term rivals Olton & West Warwicks who needed the points to stay clear of the bottom two and the home side led 2-0 after half an hour with goals from Kate Edgworth and Kymran Shergill. However Beth Merriman and Enya Collier levelled things up by half time and a powerful last 20 minutes saw Sutton run out 5-2 winners with the further goals from Vicky Woolford, Sophie Manning and Mollie Beeton. Sutton’s success was confirmed on Sunday after Buckingham lost 4-1 at home to Durham University having been held to a 4-4 draw by Gloucester City the day before.  A solitary Holly Smith goal gave Stourport three crucial points at Wakefield to move them out of the bottom two replaced by the home team. Bottom of the table Swansea also picked up a point against Ben Rhydding. Elsewhere Leicester City and Durham drew 0-0.

Division One South leaders Surbiton 2s lost for the second week running, this time 3-1 away to Slough. Imogen Davies gave Surbiton the lead a three-goal blitz either side of half time, with Mel Ball, Betsy Parsons and Brnya Holmes on target turned the game around. Second placed  Barnes who trail by six points, won 2-1 at Sevenoaks and Holcombe are a point further back having scored six on successive days at the weekend, 6-2 at Canterbury on Saturday, 6-0 at Team Bath Buccaneers on Sunday. These results, coupled with Wimbledon 2s 3-1 defeat of Bath on Saturday and Southgate drawing 1-1 with Harleston Magpies mean Bath are now bottom and Canterbury ninth.

Conference East leaders Guildford will have been disappointed to drop points in a 1-1 draw with Old Loughtonians but with second placed London Wayfarers losing 2-1 at home to Hampstead & Westminster their lead extends to five points. East London’s 3-2 defeat of Horsham confirmed their safety and that the Sussex side are relegated, along with Ipswich, despite their fine 1-0 win over Teddington.

Only two points cover the top three in Conference Midlands after leaders Repton were held 1-1 at Bedford. St Albans are a point back having won 1-0 against Birmingham University 2s, whilst Cambridge City are still in the hunt thanks to a 4-1 defeat of relegated Belper. Doncaster’s 5-3 win over Oxford University makes them safe whilst Oxford are ninth and five points adrift. Elsewhere Cannock won 3-1 at Beeston 2s.

Freya Bythell hit all three of Pendle Forest’s goals in a defeat of Durham University 2s that clinched the North Conference title. At the other end of the table Brooklands Poynton are relegated for the second successive season, confirmed by a 1-0 loss at Leeds. Timperley look likely to join them as they are ninth, six points away from safety. They did take a point in a 0-0 draw with Bowdon 2s, but the latter’s 2-0 win against Leeds on Sunday confirmed their league status for next season.  Fylde won 2-0 at Harrogate and Didsbury Northern were 3-2 winners at Newcastle University.

Clifton Robinsons 2s and Bristol Firebrands fought out an exciting 3-3 draw that keeps Brands four points clear of their neighbours.  Clifton twice cancelled out Firebrands goals before Claire Jones second of the game gave them  a 3-2 lead with eight minutes to go. However Lizzie Cook’s second goal levelled things up two minutes later. Exeter missed the chance to get into the title mix after a similar scoreline against Oxford Hawks. Cheltenham went one better beating Reading 2s 4-3. Relegated Basingstoke lost 5-2 at Witney and Fareham, who are also down drew 0-0 with Trojans.

A six goal blast from Bowdon propelled them back to the top flight as Division One North champions. Two goals apiece from Simon Egerton and Ted Graves plus one for Same Cooke and Carlos Dolado-Hollyman led to a 6-0 win over Cambridge City to take the title in style. Cambridge were already relegated and Leeds join them after they were beaten 5-2 by Brooklands MU. Elsewhere the West Midlands derby between Harborne and Olton & West Warwicks went Olton’s way with a 4-2 win. Loughborough Students beat Birmingham University 4-2 and Durham University beat Deeside Ramblers 2-0.

Richmond made it back to back titles in winning Division One South  and will play in the Premier Division for the first time. Imre Gerrits, Scott Wall and Mathew Ming put them 3-0 up at half time at Canterbury and they held on despite a late challenge by the home side saw it end 3-2, enough for Richmond to take an unassailable lead in the table. Elsewhere the battle to avoid the drop with Brighton & Hove, who lost 5-0 at Exeter University intensified. Havant moved out of the bottom two with a 4-0 win over Old Cranleighan that sends them down to ninth. Sevenoaks also gained a valuable points thanks to a late Luke Wynford winner at Teddington to make it 4-3. Team Bath Buccaneers recent good run was ended at Old Loughtonians where they lost 4-1.

There was no change at the top of Conference East where Indians Gymkhana continue to lead London Wayfarers by two points. Gymkhana won 4-0 at Guildford and Wayfarers 4-2 at home to Hampstead & Westminster 2s.  At the other end of the table Old Georgians 2s moved out of last place thanks to a 3-1 win at Spencer. Ipswich, who lost 6-1 at Surbiton 2s slip below them. Wimbledon 2s and Bromley & Beckenham each earned a valuable point in their 1-1 draw.

There was a surprise in Conference Midlands where Nottingham University 2s were beaten for only the second time, losing 4-1 at Norwich City. The damage could have been worse but nearest rivals Stourport were held 2-2 at third place Barford Tigers. It was the same score in the Harleston Magpies – City of Peterborough game but despite the point Peterborough go bottom as Bedford beat Banbury 4-3 to move within two points of the Oxfordshire side who are eighth.   Birmingham University 2s 3-2 at St Albans eases their fears of the drop.

It was as you were in Conference North where the top three all won. Lindum’s 4-2 win at Beeston 2s keeps hem three points clear of Timperley, 4-1 winners against Sheffield and Doncaster who won the Yorkshire derby at Wakefield 3-1.  Sheffield drop into the bottom two as Oxton won 5-2 at Ben Rhydding to jump from ninth to seventh. Brooklands MU 2s won 9-1 at Belper.

Conference West Champions Bristol University were held to a 1-1 draw at Ashmoor who are fighting to avoid the drop. They are now a point ahead of Cheltenham who won 3-2 at relegated Plymouth Marjon. Elsewhere saw three home wins; Oxford Hawks beat Chichester 2-1, Exeter University 2s overcame Fareham 4-2 and one goal was enough for Clifton Robinsons against Isca.            

by England Hockeyl

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