Men’s Hockey League/ Women’s Hockey League Preview – 17/18 October 2020
East Grinstead and Loughborough Students are locked together with identical records at the top of the Women’s Hockey League Premier Division going into Round 5 this weekend.
Loughborough’s game with Beeston which was scheduled for Saturday has been postponed.
East Grinstead extended their unbeaten run to 19 matches last weekend with what could prove to be an extremely significant 1-0 win at Surbiton. The West Sussex’s club’s defence has been a key factor during the run and the last time they conceded more than one goal in a game was in last season’s encounter at Hampstead. They face Hampstead again on Sunday, but at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre whilst Paddington Recreation Ground has a new pitch laid.
Surbiton dropped to third following their defeat and are set to drop further during their bye week which was originally timed to coincide with their participation in the rearranged Euro Hockey League before it was cancelled due to the current pandemic. Clifton Robinsons and Wimbledon are both poised to move up, Clifton hosting Holcombe, who have struggled this season and come off a bye week of their own. Wimbledon welcome the University of Birmingham to South West London, after losing 3-1 at home to London rivals, Hampstead & Westminster last Saturday. Birmingham have failed to score in their last two games and may yet regret dropping two points in their goalless draw with Beeston.
Swansea have struggled in their first season in the Premier Division but ignite their previous Conference West rivalry with Buckingham when they visit Stowe School. Buckingham have made a disappointing start with a 3-0 loss at Surbiton and a 2-0 defeat at Loughborough Students but won their last home game, 3-2 over the University of Birmingham and showed their potential at East Grinstead, taking a half time lead before settling for a point in a 1-1 draw.
In the Men’s Hockey League, Surbiton were also due to be competing in the Euro Hockey League but instead will see which teams can eat into their five point lead at the top of the table.
On Sunday, Old Georgians are at home to newly promoted Oxted, who won 2-0 over the University of Exeter before their bye week. Old Georgians moved up to second on goal difference with a convincing 5-1 home win over the University of Exeter and will be keen to maintain their one hundred per cent home record after their 8-0 opening day win over the University of Durham.
Hampstead & Westminster are the danger to Surbiton as they trail by five points with a game in hand. They host East Grinstead at Southgate while Paddington Recreation Ground is unavailable, knowing that East Grinstead will want to bounce back from their 7-2 thrashing at Surbiton last Saturday. Hampstead came from a goal down to win 4-1 at London rivals, Wimbledon and having only dropped two points in their last home game (played at Reading) in a 1-1 draw with Old Georgians, look to be Surbiton’s nearest challengers again.
Wimbledon‘s match at the University of Exeter and Holcombe’s visit to the University of Durham have both been postponed. Holcombe’s match at Brooklands Manchester University was also postponed last week.
However, Brooklands are due to head for Beeston on Sunday. Before their enforced break, Brooklands earned their first point of the season in a 2-2 draw at East Grinstead in a game they came from behind to lead. Following their opening day 8-1 defeat at Surbiton and a 4-1 home loss to Wimbledon, the point was extremely welcome, but they will want to try and get something at Nottingham Hockey Centre. Beeston have had mixed fortunes in their first three matches, drawing 3-3 at Wimbledon, losing 5-2 at home to Surbiton and beating the University of Durham 3-1, but will aim to climb the table with victory over Brooklands.