9 pages of Premier League ac­tion

The Hockey Paper - - FRONT PAGE - by Sam McKe­own

Forsyth hat-trick foils bat­tling Can­ter­bury in eight-goal thriller Hol­combe’s killer in­stinct is too deadly for Clifton Robin­son

WIM­BLE­DON might have made hard work of it but coach Ben Hawes is adamant his side’s come-frombe­hind vic­tory over Brook­lands is a pos­i­tive sign for the end-of-sea­son run in.

League lead­ers Wim­ble­don looked to be star­ing at a first de­feat of the cam­paign at Brook­lands as the home side led 2-0 at half­time thanks to goals from Peter Flana­gan and Sam Perrin.

But what­ever Hawes said to his troops at the in­ter­val worked won­ders as two Phil Roper goals pulled Wim­ble­don level be­fore Si­mon Man­tell hit the win­ner on 66 min­utes.

And while be­ing two goals down at half-time to a side that have won just three times this sea­son might be cause for con­cern, Hawes is in­stead fo­cussing on the pos­i­tives with his side now seven points clear at the sum­mit.

“It was mas­sively im­por­tant to win and we recog­nise how tough a game it is to come here, as al­ways,” Hawes said.

“When we went 2-0 down, it was a case of chang­ing things up be­cause we as a col­lec­tive weren’t de­liv­er­ing on what we agreed on be­fore the start.

“The first half we started re­ally well, but dur­ing that mid­dle pe­riod we didn’t play what is our game. We dropped off the pace and I think we were im­pa­tient.

“What I want to see from our play­ers is a bit more be­lief that our game plan works. We’ve got the qual­ity and in­di­vid­u­als that can do those ex­tra bits that win you games.

“A re­sult like this is a big step for­ward be­cause in the past I feel that some play­ers might have looked to oth­ers to step up, but against Brook­lands we be­lieved in our game and it was a ma­ture sec­ond half per­for­mance that won it in the end.

“The most im­por­tant thing was to put an­other great per­for­mance in, whilst we’re still top of the league and get three points on the board be­cause we’ve got a few play­ers go­ing on in­ter­na­tional duty.”

The open­ing stages of play were dom­i­nated by Wim­ble­don; so much so that the away side’s half was oc­cu­pied more by en­cir­cling birds than Brook­lands play­ers in the first 15 min­utes.

Man­tell whis­tled a shot across the face of goal and Brook­lands were lucky to clear their lines on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing a weak back pass that could have eas­ily have been pun­ished.

Things got even tougher for the home side af­ter Oliver Clarke re­ceived the af­ter­noon’s only yel­low card in the 19th minute.

But with the game ap­proach­ing the half hour Brook­lands be­gan to move the ball quicker and match their league-lead­ing op­po­nents in mid­field.

And against the run of play Brook­lands were awarded the first penalty cor­ner of the game, which led to a penalty stroke for the home side which cap- tain Flana­gan mas­ter­fully slot­ted home on 29 min­utes for the lead. With Wim­ble­don now rat­tled Brook­lands soon found them­selves two goals to the good af­ter Perrin cut through the away side’s de­fence to score on the 33minute mark. Just be­fore the break, Wim­ble­don’s Roper hit a fierce shot from the edge of the D but Christo­pher Scott saved well to keep the score at 2-0. Into the sec­ond half and the Brook­lands goal­keeper was called into ac­tion again; sav­ing an­other fierce shot from Roper and do­ing well to save a Wim-

ble­don shot on goal from their first penalty cor­ner on 42 min­utes.

How­ever, the Brook­lands de­fence was breached on 50 min­utes as Roper con­verted from a penalty cor­ner to halve the deficit.

And just four min­utes later the scores were level as Roper got his sec­ond from open play.

Brook­lands had to re­sort to catch­ing their op­po­nents on the break through great in­ter­cep­tion work by James Sut­cliffe.

But Wim­ble­don’s pres­sure be­gan to take its toll and sure enough on 66 min­utes the away side won it through a Man­tell penalty cor­ner flick.

And while Brook­lands man­ager Paul Gan­non ad­mit­ted the de­feat would take some get­ting over, he can at least see shoots of re­cov­ery as they bid to end the sea­son on a high.

“It’s tough los­ing like that, but Wim­ble­don are a great team,” Gan­non said. “Credit where credit’s due.

“We’re still in eighth. We’ve got to pick our­selves up and move on. We felt we were poor dur­ing the first part of the sea­son and we did a huge amount of work over the Jan­uary and mid­sea­son pe­riod.

“We’ve been train­ing three times a week to try and get our­selves where we should be.

“Also, bring­ing in new play­ers such as Ross Hall and James Sut­cliffe have made a mas­sive dif­fer­ence to our squads be­cause they are both great ad­di­tions.

“At the start of the sea­son we felt like we were not at a good level, but since Christ­mas, fit­ness has been key and re­cently I feel we’ve got back to what we do best, which is play­ing sim­ple and do­ing the ba­sics right.

“Now, Sur­biton next, which is an­other home game, which saves our lads from trav­el­ling – so that’s a pos­i­tive. We’ll try to take all three points like we do in ev­ery game we play.

“We know ev­ery game now is im­por­tant and we see the Sur­biton game as a great opportunity to get out of eighth place and move away from the rel­e­ga­tion play offs.”

Snap shot: Marc Ed­wards scores for Hamp­stead in their 4-3 win over Beeston PIC­TURE: Max Flego

Dou­ble trou­ble: Phil Roper scores his sec­ond for Wim­ble­don PIC­TURES: Sara Flana­gan

Go­ing 2-0 up: Sam Perrin slots home the sec­ond BMU goal

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