Australia tour to hit leaders Beeston hard

[img_assist|nid=6187|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=100]NOTTINGHAM, November 16 – After losing their first match of the season last weekend, England men’s hockey league premier division leaders Beeston face a busy weekend of action as they aim to bounce back to winning ways.

The Midlands side entertain Reading on Saturday (2pm start) before travelling to Kent for a EHB men’s cup clash against Conference East leaders Holcombe at the same time on Sunday.

But there are tough times ahead for Beeston, with eight of their regular first team players heading out to Australia on Sunday to play in the Champions’ Trophy.

In-form Ben Arnold has earned his first call-up to the senior England side, while the 22-year-old’s team-mates Michael Hoare and Ollie Willars also get their first caps. Beeston will also be without Adam Dixon, Simon Egerton, Harry Martin and George Pinner who also form part of Jason Lee’s 18-strong squad.

And an eighth Beeston player – Craig Boyne – will be playing for Australia in the tournament, leaving the Nottinghamshire outfit with a huge void to fill.

“We will be using everyone we have, including the tea lady,” said Beeston manager Graham Griffiths. “They will miss the crucial matches against Cannock and Canterbury, but we’ve just got to get on with it. It’s an important time for the young players we have, and a great chance for them to step up.

“We’ve been hit hard by the call-ups, but we were expecting it and to be honest I’m surprised there weren’t more players picked.”

Other premier division clubs who will be missing key players after this weekend due to Champions’ Trophy call-ups are Reading (Darren Cheesman), Loughborough Students (David Condon and Henry Weir), Hampstead and Westminster (Dan Fox), East Grinstead (Mark Gleghorne), Southgate (Dan Shingles) and Cannock (Patrick Smith).

Brooklands MU ran out 3-2 winners over Beeston last weekend thanks to a last minute goal from Charlie Brooke, and they will be aiming to continue their bid to reach the Championship play-offs when they go to Kent on Saturday to play bottom of the table Surbiton.

They are now just three points behind leaders Beeston, and Canterbury will want to keep up the pressure when they play third-placed Cannock on Saturday.

Loughborough Students take on Hampstead and Westminster as they bid to preserve their top-four spot, while East Grinstead – who moved up to fifth following last weekend’s win over Cannock – could overtake Loughborough if they beat Southgate.

Men’s conference north leaders Sheffield Hallam travel to third-placed University of Durham on Saturday, knowing that defeat could mean they lose top spot.

And second-placed Bowdon – who were knocked off the top by Sheffield Hallam last week – entertain Belper at South Downs Road.

It is also tight at the top of the conference west, with the top three all level on 15 points.

This Saturday, leaders University of Exeter travel to Cardiff and UWIC who lie third, while second-placed Guildford – who beat Cardiff last weekend – go to the University of Birmingham.

And in the conference east, leaders Holcombe warm up for Sunday’s clash with Premier Division leaders Beeston with a home clash against Old Loughtonians.

Men’s Hockey League (Saturday, November 17 2012)

Premier Division

Canterbury v Cannock 13:00

Loughborough Students v Hampstead and Westminster 14:00

Surbiton v Brooklands MU 14:00

Beeston v Reading 14:00

East Grinstead v Southgate 14:00

Conference East

Cambridge City v Wimbledon 12:00

Bromley & Beckenham v Oxted 12:30

City of Peterborough v Richmond 13:30

Indian Gymkhana v Teddington 16:30

Holcombe v Old Loughtonians 18:00

Conference North

Univ of Durham v Sheffield Hallam 12:00

Olton and West Warwicks v Khalsa (Warks) 13:30

Bowdon v Belper 13:45

Preston v Leek 14:00

Doncaster v Wakefield 14:00

Conference West

Team Bath Buccaneers v Fareham 12:30

Cheltenham v Bristol Firebrands 12:30

Univ of Birmingham v Guildford 12:30

Cardiff and UWIC v Univ of Exeter 13:00

Havant v Whitchurch 14:00

EHB Men’s Cup (Sunday, November 18 2012)

Doncaster v West Hampstead 12:00

Bromley and Beckenham v Norwich City 13:00

Sheffield Univ Bankers v Oxton 13:15

St Albans v Oxted 13:30

Cannock v City of Peterborough 13:30

Surbiton v Preston 14:00

Holcombe v Beeston 14:00

Hampstead and Westminster v Belper 14:00