Brook­lands’ big bash

MU boys are the real win­ners of a placid Pre­mier fi­nale

The Hockey Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Claire Mid­dle­ton

WITH so many is­sues re­solved be­fore last week­end, the men’s Na­tional League Pre­mier Divi­sion ended with more of a whim­per than a bang – with the glo­ri­ous ex­cep­tion of Brook­lands MU.

The Manchester-based team guar­an­teed them­selves a Pre­mier Divi­sion berth next sea­son with their 3-2 vic­tory against a Can­ter­bury team who had en­joyed a late burst of form only to stum­ble at the fi­nal hur­dle.

So while Can­ter­bury face the play-offs, Brook­lands can con­cen­trate on bring­ing their cam­paign to an even bet­ter con­clu­sion when they travel to Read­ing in the Na­tional Cup semi-fi­nals this week­end.

Any­one look­ing for Fi­nals Week­end tips would have been dis­ap­pointed as the qual­i­fiers all drew. Table-top­pers Wim­ble­don led 3-0 but even­tu­ally had to share the spoils with lo­cal ri­vals Sur­biton in a 3-3 thriller, while top-four ri­vals Hol­combe and Hamp­stead & Westminster fin­ished 1-1.

There was more at stake in the In­vestec Women’s Pre­mier Divi­sion but in the end, the favourites came through rel­a­tively com­fort­ably.

East Grin­stead knew a win would qual­ify them for Fi­nals Week­end and they didn’t dis­ap­point, beat­ing strug­glers Bow­don Hightown 4- 1 thanks to two goals from Pip Lock.

It was harder go­ing for the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham, but they edged past Can­ter­bury 2- 1 to se­cure their top- four fin­ish and leave Leicester and Clifton Robin­sons, in fifth and sixth re­spec­tively, dis­ap­pointed.

It was no con­so­la­tion for bot­tom- placed Read­ing that they notched their first win of the sea­son against Berk­shire ri­vals Slough.

PIC­TURE: Sara Flana­gan

A job well done: Brook­lands sa­lute the crowd af­ter com­plet­ing their rel­e­ga­tion es­cape

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