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M1 Home To Oxted In League Finals On Sat. Evening


15th March 2024

By Colin Pike

Surbiton Men begin their League Finals campaign at home to Oxted on Saturday evening (push back at Sugden Road is at 1800).

Spectators planning to come to Sugden Road on Saturday should plan their journey in advance as the M25 is going to be closed between junctions 10 and 11 due to bridge work and other improvements. Heavy traffic is expected even though there will be diversions in place.

The match can be streamed via the Surbiton Hockey Club You Tube channel here

By finishing second in the Men's Hockey League Premier Division, Surbiton Men have ensured that they will play all three Pool B matches at Sugden Road. This is due to a rule change from the 2022-23 season. In 2022-23, teams 1-4 were guaranteed two home games and teams 5-8 were guaranteed one home game.

This has changed in 2023-24 with teams finishing 1st and 2nd playing all three games at home; 3rd and 4th playing two games at home; 5th and 6th playing one game at home and 7th and 8th playing all their games away from home.

By a statistical quirk, seven of the eight teams finished in exactly the same place as in 2022-23, the only exception being Southgate replacing Reading in sixth. Therefore the fixtures are almost the same as in 2022-23, although the venue may vary due to the above rule change.

Therefore for the second season running, Surbiton start at home to Oxted, having won 3-2 last season. Since Oxted were promoted from Division One South in 2019-20, they have beaten Surbiton once, Tim Guise-Brown earning a 1-0 win at Oxted School in October 2020 just before the season was truncated due to Covid-19.

Surbiton won 5-2 on their return to Oxted School in September 2021 and have a one hundred per cent record at Sugden Road having won 5-1 in October 2022 and 6-0 earlier this season in October 2023.

Oxted finished third in Pool B in 2022-23, ahead of Reading, so failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

Oxted booked their place in what was effectively an eliminator match, winning 3-1 at home to East Grinstead, who needed a single point to qualify. Beeston had already qualified as Oxted and East Grinstead could not both overtake them.

Oxted are not short of goal scoring potential with fifteen different players having scored for them this season. Bradley Sherwood is their top scorer with seven goals, with Charlie Axford and Guy Morgan both on five. Owen Williamson has found the net on four occasions, with Peter Jarvis, Michael Royden-Turner and Chris Webster all on three.

Nick Giles and Chris Porter have both scored twice, with Isaac Dale, Rob Mugridge, Oliver Bennett, Jake Bennett, Alexander Fraser and Jamie Batten on target once each.

Surbiton made absolutely sure of second place with a 3-0 win at Hampstead & Westminster last Saturday, while Wimbledon lost 7-2 at Old Georgians.

Wimbledon will want to bounce back at home to Southgate, who have qualified for the League Finals in their first season back in the top-flight, in the other Pool B match.

In Pool A, reigning champions, Old Georgians host Beeston and Holcombe visit Hampstead & Westminster.

The top two teams in each pool qualify for the semi-finals on 13 April. As last season, if a pool game is drawn, there will be a shootout for an extra point.

The four remaining teams are battling to avoid relegation. East Grinstead are safe, but Reading could be relegated if they lose at Cardiff & Met as the Welsh club would have an eight point advantage with just two games remaining.

That would leave the second relegation place between Cardiff and the University of Nottingham, who visit East Grinstead on Saturday. If the University of Nottingham are relegated, that will prevent their second team from being promoted from the Conference Midlands as two teams from the same club can't play in the same division. As things stand, Stourport would be promoted from second place, but Barford Tigers and Norwich City can still mathematically catch Stourport with two games to play.