M1 Home To Oxted On Saturday Evening
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men will be at home to Oxted for the first time in the Men's Hockey League Premier Division when the two Surrey clubs meet at Sugden Road on Saturday evening (Push Back 6 pm).
Surbiton have faced Oxted before on home territory but in the Men's Cup in 2013, when they won 6-1 in the semi-final before beating Hampstead & Westminster 3-1 to lift the cup in Wakefield.
After Oxted won the 2019-20 Division One South title with the final round of matches cancelled due to Covid-19, Surbiton have travelled to Oxted School twice in the Premier Division. The first occasion saw Oxted shock Surbiton 1-0 in both teams' final league match of the season in October 2020 before the season was first suspended and then declared null and void. Tim Guise-Brown scored the only goal.
Surbiton won 5-2 when the teams met in Phase One of the 2021-22 season, Luke Taylor scoring twice with James Gall, Gareth Furlong and Nick Park also on target in September 2021; Max Gilbert and Jordan Turnbull replying for Oxted.
This season, Oxted are playing at Caterham School as they aim to improve on just missing out on a Top Six place last season.
Oxted have had mixed fortunes in their first couple of games, beating Beeston 2-1 in their first game at Caterham School, thanks to Jonathan Lankfer and Chris Webster before slipping to defeat, 1-0 at the University of Exeter last weekend.
Surbiton go into the match on four points having drawn 2-2 at Holcombe on opening day before a second half blitz helped them to a 6-0 victory over East Grinstead last Saturday night. Luke Taylor and Alex Williams have been in good form, scoring three goals apiece over the two games and with Adam Buckle and David Goodfield also having got off the mark last weekend, Surbiton should be confident.
Wimbledon and Old Georgians were in Euro Hockey League action in Hamburg last weekend and both teams will be disappointed not to have qualified for the FINAL8 stage.
Wimbledon are at home to East Grinstead, also on Saturday night and like Surbiton have a recent dominant home record against the West Sussex club, having won the last six meetings. East Grinstead last won at Wimbledon in November 2014 when they won 5-3.
Old Georgians have their first home game of the season against Holcombe on Sunday and having won 8-1 at the University of Nottingham on the first weekend, will also be confident as Holcombe crashed 8-2 on their last visit to St. George's College in March and a month later, Holcombe lost 6-2 on their own pitch.
Beeston travel to Hampstead & Westminster for the first time since March 2020 as the teams didn't meet in the shortened 2020-21 season and last season's Phase One meeting was at Beeston. The Nottingham club will want to end a run of five successive away defeats to the London club, with Beeston having last won at Hampstead, 1-0 in February 2015.
There is a battle of the Universities in the South West this weekend as Brooklands Manchester University make the long trip to Devon to face the University of Exeter. Exeter's only home victory over Brooklands came in March 2010 when Exeter won 3-2, but with both teams having missed each other in the top flight before Exeter returned to the Premier Division for the 2018-19 season, Brooklands have won on their last three visits to Devon, although Exeter won 6-2 at Brooklands when the teams last met in April.
Having lost 2-1 to Beeston last weekend, Reading return to Nottingham Hockey Centre for the second week running, this time to face the University of Nottingham who recovered from their thrashing against Old Georgians to win 2-1 at Brooklands MU last weekend. With Nottingham having a limited history in the MHL, the meeting will be the first time that the teams have faced each other in the league.