Family affair for Flanagans see Brooklands edge vital decider
PRACTICE makes perfect, and Brooklands Manchester University boss Mark Bateman believes two weeks of intense preparation was the secret to their crucial 3-2 victory over Canterbury.
The result ensures they will stay up and condemned their rivals to a dreaded play-off scrap.
Craig Boyne scored twice for Canterbury and was a major threat, just as he has been all season, but in truth Brooklands controlled proceedings as they gained vital momentum ahead of this weekend’s Cup semifinal with Reading.
Peter Flanagan’s fine finish, another chapter in a stellar second half of the campaign which has seen him net 12 times, gave them the lead but it was Dave Flanagan and Ross Hall who scored the vital goals.
And Bateman is proud of his side for bouncing back after a disastrous first half of the campaign, believing hard work and persistence has turned them into one of the better sides in the league.
“I think where we are at does not necessarily reflect where we should have finished,” he said.
“We did not acquit ourselves in the first half of the season and after the first three or four games, we went into a rut.
“We have done a lot of work in the last two weeks focussing on different scenarios which might come up against Canterbury and a lot of those happened and we were prepared.
“We had practised and come up with a lot of solutions because we did our homework. We built our way into the game and scored a good corner early on.
“Peter has been really good in the second half of the season and has scored a lot of goals. This week was high quality, right into the bottom corner.
“We then got two great field goals. We shut down Craig Boyne really well; he is their main threat and he did get two goals, but he is a really talented goalscorer.
“We did a great job on him, and even though the score was close we were really calm. I thought we won it on the training ground.”
Brooklands were overwhelming favourites to stay up before the tie, but Canterbury is a notoriously tricky place to go – despite their form this season.
Brooklands held a threepoint lead before push-back, meaning Canterbury needed to win, but the hosts were on the back foot early when Peter Flanagan picked his way through a tight defence and fired low into the corner.
With Boyne marked out of the game by Brooklands’ disciplined defence, Canterbury started to run out of ideas – but their influential star player benefited from an error to level the match up.
The home fans were jubilant, sensing a change in the wind – but Brooklands responded in style through Dave Flanagan a minute later, before Australian Hall scored a third.
Boyne got a second for Canterbury but it was too little, too late, leaving Brooklands buoyant ahead of their cup semi-final.
“I want to be in the final and win things with Brooklands,” Bateman said.
“We have lost Ross (Hall), who has gone back to Australia, but James Sutcliffe will come back in. He is our GB Under-23 player and was injured for the entire first half of the season.
“He came back, played three games and was arguably man-of-the-match for those three games but then hurt himself badly again.
“But now he is back fit and he will add real
strength to us defensively.
“Reading do not necessarily enjoy playing against us, so they will not have wanted to play us. I am interested to see how they plan for us again.”
Canterbury may face a rematch with Brooklands sooner than they expected, as they start heavy favourites to reach the Cup final ahead of their lastfour clash with lower-league side Bromley and Beckenham this weekend.
And first-team manager Gary Wyver expects his charges to be up for it after such a disappointing defeat.
“The players have a point to prove in the Cup match, and in theory Bromley and Beckenham should be a slightly easier game because of where they are,” he said.
“They are a couple of leagues below us so we are the favourites, and we are keen to get straight back in and actually win again.
“It’s just like previous years, we have not got enough points up to Christmas and we have just not had the rub of the green, so it leaves us with it all to do.
“We gave it a good go this year but it just was not to be. Now we are back in the play-offs.
“We have got a few people who have been there and done it and know what it is all about so hopefully they will be able to guide the younger members in the squad.”
Top corner: David Flanagan, far left, scores to put Brooklands back in front KEY PLAYER Peter Flanagan Brooklands
Crucial: Brooklands goalkeeper Chris Scott makes a vital late save