Old familiar feeling at top of the league

Men’s England League, premier division October 23
Reading 3 Canterbury 1
Beeston 0 Hampstead and Westminster 2
Bowdon 3 East Grinstead 3
Surbiton 5 Loughborough Students 3
Cannock 1 Brooklands MU 1
Women’s England League, premier division October 23
Olton & West Warwicks 6 Cannock 3
Clifton 0 Slough 1
University of Birmingham 4 Bowdon Hightown 0
Brooklands Poynton 1 Leicester 6
Canterbury 0 Reading 2

Jess Wood (Cannock, white) and Laura Price (Olton) have a go at Twister. Image by Andy Smith

The England Hockey League premier divisions have a familiar look about them with one-third of the regular season over.

In the men’s league, last season’s premiership winners East Grinstead hold first place undefeated ahead of the side they beat in the premiership final Beeston. Defeated cup finalists Hampstead and Westminster are flying high in third.
Over in the women’s premier, last season’s almost-all-conquering Leicester are also undefeated at the top of the table. But the division is shaping up much closer than last time around with Birmingham University, Slough and Canterbury all within two points of the top. And Leicester will know not to take anything for granted after finishing the 2009-10 regular season ten points clear but then losing the premiership final to Slough.
There were plenty of goals around in the women’s league on Saturday. Leicester hit six at Brooklands Poynton as did a resurgent Olton and West Warwicks side against Cannock. Olton raced to a four goal lead in the first half thanks to Lisa Hunter, Holly Chipman,Rachel Clift (PS) and Emma McCabe. A Lynda Royston hat trick managed to get Cannock back within two goals twice but McCabe and Clift (PC) restored the three goal cushion.

Sutton Coldfield had a bumper weekend – smashing 10 past Aldridge and Walsall on Saturday in the north conference, then knocking over premier division Cannock in the cup on Sunday. Vikki Woolford scored two hat-tricks in two days for Sutton Coldfield. In the cup tie, Sutton raced to a 5-1 half time lead against their more highly credentialled opponents. Cannock’s fightback came too late and the game finished 6-4.
A handful of internationals started to return to the men’s and women’s league in round six. Ashley Jackson, was back at his new-old club East Grinstead and chimed in with a corner goal after the long trip up to Bowdon. Jackson’s contribution didn’t stop the champions dropping their first points of the campaign however in a high-scoring 3-3 draw.
Reading find themselves in an unaccustomed mid-table spot in the men’s premier, but a 3-1 win over promoted Canterbury steadied the ship in round six with their England players still to return.
East Grinstead’s former GB player Danny Hall tops the men’s scorers list with seven strikes (all open play) alongside Sam Ward (Beeston, 5 FG, 2 PC) and Tim Pinnock (Surbiton, 7 PC).In the women’s league Sophie Bray (Birmingham University, 7 FG, 1 PC) and Rebecca Herbert (Leicester, 7 FG, 1 PC) are the top marksmen.
See the gallery for more pictures.
For latest league tables and results click here: men women.
Picture by Andy Smith, reports by Andy Smith and Tom Cooper