M1 Take On Old Georgians In Top Of The Table Clash On Saturday
By Colin Pike
Surbiton Men welcome Old Georgians to Sugden Road on Saturday evening in a Men's Hockey League Premier Division top of the table clash, push back 6 pm.
Defending their maiden title, Old Georgians have been in stunning from this season, winning eight and drawing just once, a 2-2 home draw with Hampstead & Westminster, to come to Sugden Road with a two point lead over their hosts at the top of the table.
Old Georgians made their debut in the Premier Division in 2019-20 and have only lost once to their Elmbridge rivals, at St. George's College in November 2019, when Surbiton edged home 4-3.
The return fixture at Sugden Road ended 2-2 in February 2020 before Covid-19 struck. The teams didn't meet before the 2020-21 season was declared null and void and when league hockey resumed in 2021-22, it was Old Georgians who were able to claim Elmbridge bragging rights.
Old Georgians won 2-0 at home a year ago in Phase One and in February this year, they stormed to a 5-1 win when the teams met for the first time in the Top Six. A month later, Surbiton drew 2-2 at St. George's College as Old Georgians ultimately claimed the league title with an eight point margin over second placed Wimbledon.
Sam Ward scored 20 goals last season and has already managed to find the net on 21 occasions this season, proving that his eye injury can be overcome in defiant fashion.
Old Georgians taught the University of Nottingham a lesson on opening day, returning from the East Midlands with all three points after a convincing 8-1 away win. Holcombe were beaten 3-0 at home before Old Georgians returned to Nottingham Hockey Centre to face Beeston and grab a 5-0 victory.
Oxted were overcome 6-2 at Caterham School in another Surrey derby before points were dropped for the only time this season against Hampstead.
A 5-0 win at East Grinstead and an important 4-2 home win over Wimbledon in the rearranged fixture, originally postponed due to both teams playing in the Euro Hockey League, saw the division achieve parity in fixtures played in the Premier Division.
Old Georgians were clinical in an 8-2 home win over the University of Exeter before beating Reading 3-0 last weekend.
The only real disappointment that Old Georgians have had this season is their failure to qualify at the Euro Hockey League KO16 tournament in Hamburg, where they beat SV Arminen of Austria 4-0, but lost 3-1 to Dutch club Pinoke in KO8.
Supporting Ward in the goalscoring stakes has been former Surbiton player James Tindall on five goals; Lee Morton on four and Matt Brown on three.
James Albery, James Carson, Alexander Fraser and Ashley Jackson have all contributed two goals with Tom Carson, Chris Griffiths and Chris Proctor all netting once.
Surbiton will be disappointed not to be level on points with their rivals after losing a two goal lead at Hampstead and Westminster to draw 2-2, but they will also be boosted by their comeback at Wimbledon last week when they came from 2-1 down to win 3-2 and keep up their excellent record away to the South West London club.
Both teams will take unbeaten records into the derby clash with Surbiton's other draw coming in their opening game at Holcombe, but with the teams having combined for 79 goals this season (Surbiton 35, Old Georgians 44) hopefully there will be plenty of attacking action in the circles.
Third placed Wimbledon will already have played at bottom club Brooklands Manchester University by the time the match starts in Elmbridge, with Brooklands playing at 1.30 pm on Saturday.
Fourth placed Hampstead host sixth placed Oxted also at 6 pm as Oxted aim to reach the Top Six after narrowly missing out last season.
The other 6 pm push back sees tenth at home to eleventh as the University of Nottingham visit East Grinstead.
On Sunday, Reading are at home to the University of Exeter and Holcombe travel to Beeston.