Fam­ily af­fair for Flana­gans see Brook­lands edge vi­tal de­cider

The Hockey Paper - - MEN'S PREMIER DIVISION - by Char­lie Ben­nett

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.”

PICTURES: Sara Flana­gan

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

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