M1 At Home To University of Nottingham On Saturday Evening
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men meet the University of Nottingham for the first time in the Men's Hockey League on Saturday Evening (5 November) push back 6.30 pm.
The University of Nottingham were promoted into the Men's Hockey League for the 2017-18 season when they won the Conference North at the first attempt when the Conferences formed the second tier of the national league.
They failed to make history by winning promotion via the Promotion Tournament, finishing fourth of the four teams on goal difference from current Premier Division members Oxted, with the University of Exeter, also currently in the top flight, winning promotion alongside Sevenoaks, who retained their Premier Division status.
Nottingham finished third in the Conference North in 2018-19, which was enough to ensure that with the addition of Division One North and South as the second tier and the Conferences demoted to third tier status, that they would play in Division One North in 2019-20.
Nottingham finished eighth in Division One North and then in 2020-21 when they only managed to complete four league fixtures before the season was suspended and then declared null and void, they were lying second with the potential of a successful season taken from them.
That potential was fully realised in 2021-22 as they stormed to promotion by winning 17 and only losing one game on their way to the Division One North title, Loughborough Students upsetting the formbook 4-0 at Nottingham Hockey Centre.
Nottingham were given the toughest start when the 2022-23 fixtures were released, a home match against reigning champions Old Georgians, which the Surrey club won 8-1, Louis Tipper scoring not only Nottingham's consolation goal, but their first ever goal in the Premier Division.
In their second game, they won 2-1 at Brooklands Manchester University and their away form seemed to be better than their home form as they lost 3-1 at home to Reading but drew 0-0 at Oxted.
Their unbeaten away run ended in a 6-3 loss at Holcombe and last week their barren home form was also ended with a 3-2 win over the University of Exeter.
Tipper along with team-mate Archie Foster have both scored three goals for the East Midlands students, with Peter Caughey scoring twice. Isaac Farrant and Conor Williamson have both found the net once.
Surbiton go into the match with a one point lead over Wimbledon, who have a game in hand against Old Georgians next weekend. Old Georgians dropped their first points of the season at home to Hampstead & Westminster in a 2-2 draw and are three points behind Surbiton with that game in hand due to their Euro Hockey League exploits.
Surbiton are on a five game winning run after drawing 2-2 at Holcombe in their first game of the season. They will be hoping to continue the goalscoring form which has seen them beat East Grinstead 6-0, Oxted 5-1 and Reading 5-2 at Sugden Road so far this season.
Surbiton's attacking potential has seen twelve players score for them with penalty corner specialists Luke Taylor and Gareth Furlong leading the way with seven and four goals respectively, although Taylor has also scored from the penalty spot.
Alex Williams and Louis Gittens have both scored three goals with Arjan Drayton Chana scoring twice. Seven players have scored once this season giving Surbiton lots of options when attacking.
Old Georgians travel to East Grinstead in the only other Saturday night game with the remaining four games scheduled for Sunday.
Second placed Wimbledon face fourth placed Holcombe in Kent with their one hundred per cent record on the line. Fifth placed Hampstead and Westminster make the long trip to Devon to take on the University of Exeter; Oxted welcome Reading to Caterham School and Beeston are at home to Brooklands Manchester University, who could lift themselves off the bottom of the table with a win at Nottingham Hockey Centre.