Surbiton’s Men travel to Lee Valley this weekend, chasing not only the NOW:Pensions Men’s Hockey League Premier Division title, but one of the likely two places in next season’s Euro Hockey League.

Therefore, league second-placed Surbiton will have to beat third-placed south-west London rivals Wimbledon in the second semi-final at 4.30pm on Saturday to have any chance of qualifying for next season’s tournament, instead of having the fall-back of winning the 3rd/4th final between the two semi-final losers which takes place at 1.30 pm on Sunday.

The winners will meet either East Grinstead, who have already qualified for Europe after finishing top of the The Premier Division table in the regular season; or fourth placed Beeston, who meet in the first semi-final at 2.15 pm on Saturday, in the Championship final at 3.15pm.

Surbiton warmed up for the tournament with a friendly match at Lee Valley on 2 April against Canterbury, who are battling to save their Premier Division status in the Promotion Tournament, which continues at Lee Valley this weekend.

Despite resting four key players for the game, played under European tournament rules in four seventeen-and-a half-minute quarters, Surbiton drew 1-1 at the end of full time after their ninth-placed Premier Division rivals took the lead through open play seven minutes into the second quarter.

Surbiton left their equaliser late: Michael Watt, match-fit from triumphing with Ireland in the Hockey World League quarter-final group in San Diego, finishing off an intricate passing move ten minutes from the end.

His side then won the officially designated shoot-out competition (popularly known as “shuttles” or “shuffles”) by 4-3. These were being used, as they will be at this weekend’s Championships which also serve as European Qualifiers.

Canterbury have their second Promotion Tournament fixture against Conference East champions Holcombe at 10am on Saturday morning.  Both sides won their first play-off fixtures at Cannock HC on 29 March. Canterbury beat Conference West champions Team Bath Buccaneers 7-1 and Holcombe defeated Conference North champions Bowdon 4-3.

Bowdon play Team Bath at noon. Canterbury have their last play-off match against Bowdon at 10.45pm on Sunday morning, with Team Bath playing Holcombe at the same time, the top two teams in the four team mini-league playing in next season’s NPMHL Premier Division.

Southgate, who finished tenth in the Premier Division, have been automatically relegated to the Conference.

Full details of both tournaments, plus instructions on how to get to Lee Valley, can be found at:

www.englandhockey.co.uk

(Seán Cotter)