Having won their opening match against local rivals Wimbledon last Saturday, Surbiton Men welcome newly promoted University of Exeter to Sugden Road on Saturday (29 September) (push back 6 pm).

Admission is £5 and also includes the preceding game when Surbiton Ladies are at home to Clifton Robinsons.

Exeter return to the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division for the first time since 2011-12. After winning the MHL Conference West, Exeter won a hotly contested Promotion Tournament, finishing above Sevenoaks on goal difference with the other two Conference winners, Oxted and the University of Nottingham both finishing on three points.

Surbiton have met Exeter four times in the top flight, Surbiton having won the first meeting 6-2 at Sugden Road in October 2009, Alberto Velazquez scoring twice with Tim Pinnock, Ben Hawes, Sam Middleton and Matt Daly their other scorers. Ben Edge and James Grannell replied for Exeter.

The return match in Devon was a thriller, Exeter storming into a 3-0 lead through Ian Haley, James Royce (now back at Surbiton) and Nick Page. Surbiton fought back with a Pinnock brace and an equaliser from Mike Houlihan, all three goals coming in a six minute spell. Rufus McNaught-Barrington stunned Surbiton with a last minute penalty corner conversion to give Exeter a 4-3 win.

Exeter spent the 2010-11 season in the Conference West, but returned for the 2011-12 season when both meetings ended in 1-1 draws. At Sugden Road, Ben Tibble equalised after Robert Mugridge gave Exeter the lead and in Exeter, Tom Carson gave the students the lead only for James Ashcroft to level three minutes later.

Exeter went down to East Grinstead last Sunday, Chris Grifiths scoring twice supported by Liam Ansell and David Condon as the Sussex side won 4-1, James Ferguson scoring Exeter’s consolation.

Surbiton made the ideal start on Saturday night, Alan Forsyth’s double and a debut goal from Tim Atkins giving the reigning champions a 3-0 half time lead. Although Ben Arnold pulled a goal back for Wimbledon early in the second half, Surbiton ran out 3-1 winners to start their title defence in fine style.

There are two other Saturday evening matches, East Grinstead are at home to Beeston and Holcombe have a Kent derby with Sevenoaks.

On Sunday, Hampstead & Westminster have a London derby with Wimbledon and Brooklands Manchester University make the long trip to Reading.