England: England Hockey League 2023/24: Weekend 9 Review

Division One North leaders Buckingham maintained their unbeaten start to the season but left it late with Jo Day converting a corner with the last action of the game to eanr a point in a 1-1 draw with Ben Rhydding. The Yorkshire side led form the 31st minute when Rachel Doherty put them in front. Buckingham now have a four point lead over Sutton Coldfield whose match with Durham University was one of a number, including Wakefield v Olton, called off on Saturday due to frozen pitches. Bottom the table Swansea and Gloucester played out a 0-0 draw and Olivia back scored twice as Leicester had a convincing 6-2 win over Stourport.

The battle of the top two  in Division One South between Surbiton 2s and Barnes was abandoned and Holcombe took advantage to go second with a 5-1 win at Wimbledon 2s with two goals for Phoebe Steele and one apiece for Leisa Randall, Hattie Jones and Jade Vanderzwan. Southgate – Canterbury was also abandoned whilst Harleston, who are bottom picked up a useful point in a 2-2 draw at Sevenoaks. Slough came from behind to defeat Team Bath Buccaneers 2-1.

Spencer were the only team in the top half of Conference East to  play and they closed the gap on leaders Guildford to five points after their 3-1 win at Horsham who are ninth. One place below them are Ipswich who went down to a 5-0 defeat at Old Georgians. Elizabeth Willima hit a hat-trick for OGs to put daylight between themselves and the relegation places.

With Conference Midlands front-runners Repton inactive, Cambridge City moved to within two points of the top thanks to a 2-0 win over Doncaster. Early goals for Millie Ely and Hollie Dean put Cambridge in command and they held on after that. Beeston 2s move up to third overtaking St Albans who they beat 2-1. Two Isabelle Moriarty goals helped ninth placed Belper to their first win of the season, 2-1 at Bedford who they now trail by five points. There was also a point for bottom of the table Oxford University who produced a fine come back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Birmingham University 2s.

Pendle Forest, who lead Conference North were another team frozen off, and Newcastle University were able to reduce the gap at the top to two points thanks to a 2-1 win over Leeds.  Emily Sawers and Harriet Snell were on target for the University who remain unbeaten. The bottom two Brooklands Poynton and Harrogate were both on the end of 4-1 defeats – Brooklands at home to Didsbury Northern, Harrogate at Bowdon 2s. A late Alice Lamb goal secured the points for Durham University 2s in a 2-1 win over Timperley.

There were only two games played in Conference West and new leaders emerged in the shape of Bristol Firebrands who defeated the previous incumbents Trojans 3-2. Emily Stephens scored twice and Anna Elson once for Firebrands, with Amy Sheehan and Jess Carr-Dear replying. Witney lost ground after a 3-1 defeat in the Oxfordshire derby at Oxford Hawks.

Bowdon took the honours in the 2nd v 1st, Cheshire derby at Brooklands MU winning 3-2 and opening up a three point advantage at the top of Division One North. Matt Bellin gave Bowdon an eighth minute lead that was cancelled out by Nick Hale early in the second half. Two Simon Egerton goals put Bowdon the driving seat before Andrew Rusbridge pulled a goal back but Bowdon held firm in the last quarter to run out 3-2 winners. It was the same score line at Durham University where Cambridge City earned their first win of the season to move off the bottom of the table. Loughborough Students also won 3-2 at home to Harborne after a five-goal first half. The Olton – Leeds game was postponed and Birmingham University and Deeside Ramblers shared the spoils in a 3-3 draw as they endeavour to move away from the lower reaches.

It was a good weekend for Richmond, the Division One South leaders, with a win and seeing other teams below them dropping points. Max Evans and Matthew Leigh scored in a 2-0 win against Teddington and they are now four points clear at the top. Second placed Canterbury lost 4-1 at Old Loughtonians and slip behind Exeter University, although they could only draw, 3-3 at Havant. Nick Nurse netted a hat trick for Exeter including goals in the 67th and 69th minutes which looked to have turned the game round only for Ben Hegan to equalise for Havant with a last gasp corner. Sevenoaks – Old Cranleighan fell foul of the weather and the bottom two met with Brighton & Hove hosting Team Bath Buccaneers. The visitors ran out convincing 5-1 winners to leave them three points behind Havant and Sevenoaks and seven clear of Brighton who remain pointless          

It was also a good weekend for Indian Gymkhana who moved to the top of Conference East thanks to a big win and a defeat for the previous incumbents Spencer. Indian Gym beat Ipswich 8-1 including a brace apiece for James Tindall and Ajaz Ahmad to take them two points clear of Spencer who slipped to a 5-4 defeat at Bromley & Beckenham on Saturday. The win moved BromBeck out of the bottom two.  All other games were postponed.

Conference Midlands front runners Nottingham University 2s were made to work hard for a 1-0 win over bottom of the table City of Peterborough with Zak Buck scoring the only goal of the game.  Stourport remain five points back after a 2-1 win at St Albans. There were also narrow wins in mid table battles for Barford Tigers, 3-2 at Birmingham University 2s and Harleston Magpies, 2-1 at home to Banbury.  The Bedford – Norwich City game was postponed.

Lindum were Conference North leaders going into the weekend but saw their game at Wakefield postponed and Timperley move above them after a convincing 6-2 win at Doncaster. This was 2nd v 3rd and the home side led 2-1 at the break but a second half goal burst by Timperley turned the game around. At the other end of the table Oxton enjoyed a 3-2 at Brooklands MU 2s that saw them move out of the relegation places and go above the Manchester team. Two Ethan Price goals gave Oxton the win and with Sheffield also losing, 2-1 at home to Ben Rhydding, they are now seventh. There was heartbreak for bottom of the table Belper, who have yet to pick up a point, as they saw a 3-0 lead slip to lose 4-3 to Beeston 2s.

The top two in Conference West, Bristol University and Oxford Hawks met, going into the game level on points and two goals from Raphael Boulanger saw Bristol run out 2-1 winners. Isca are five points behind the leaders with Cuthbert Shepherd netting a hat-trick and Harry Skinner two in a 6-1 defeat of Fareham; Exeter University 2s beat  Cheltenham by the same score line. Plymouth Marjon remain bottom after a 7-2 defeat at Clifton Robinsons and Chichester  beat Ashmoor 3-1.

by England Hockeyl

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