Wimbledon goal-rush secures promotion playoff place

[img_assist|nid=7637|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=100|height=100]ENGLAND, March 24 – Wimbledon secured the England men’s hockey league conference east championship with a 5-0 win over Cambridge City.

Cardiff & UWIC have won the conference west but the other regional conferences and the final line-up for the championship playoffs remain undecided after snow postponments of some fixtures.

Beeston and Surbiton are assured a spot in the premier division play-offs, but there are four teams still in the mix for the remaining two places after East Grinstead’s game with Southgate was called off and Cannock’s game against Canterbury suffered the same fate. 

Despite losing to Reading in a tense encounter, Beeston are still 11 points clear at the top and comfortably make the finals.

Simon Mantell gave Reading the lead just before the half hour mark but Chris Proctor equalised for Beeston. On 63 minutes, Craig Peel put Reading back in front but there was still plenty of drama to come.

Darren Cheesman and Beeston keeper George Pinner both received yellow cards in the 64th minute, and this forced Beeston to use a kicking back for the remainder of the game.

Reading held on for the three points and although they need to await the outcome of the other two games to be played at a later date, they currently sit in third.

Surbiton have finished second thanks to a 3-2 victory over Brooklands MU who are now relegated. Alex Penney put Surbiton 3-1 up in the 64th minute and the game looked to be done.

But Phil Dutoy pulled one back with two minutes remaining to make for an exciting conclusion to the match. However, Surbiton held on to clinch second spot and Brooklands were consigned to their final defeat of a difficult season.

Hampstead and Westminster and Loughborough Students played out a 2-2 draw to end their season. Neither side were in danger of relegation going into the game but nor could they have crept into play-off contention.

The Conference East was incredibly tight going into the last day of the season with only goal difference separating Wimbledon and Holcome at the top.

And come full time, it was still only goal difference which parted the teams as Wimbledon’s 5-0 win over Cambridge City was enough to take them to the promotion play-offs.

Richard Alexander made sure they signed off in style too as he unleashed a terrific strike in the final minute of the game to wrap up the win. Holcombe did all they could, winning 3-1, but it wasn’t enough.

At the bottom of the table, City of Peterborough lost 4-1 to Richmond and are relegated. Cambridge City will face relegation play-offs.

In the Conference North, Wakefield managed to secure survival by drawing 2-2 with Doncaster who will now go into the relegation play-offs. At the other end of the table Sheffield Hallam and Bowdon both had their games postponed so top spot is still undecided.

It was a winner-takes-all game at the top of the Conference West as Cardiff UWIC and University of Exeter met. Cardiff  led the table by a point going into the match and still do after the two teams played out a 0-0 draw.

Men’s Hockey League (March 24 2013):

Men’s Premier Division: Brooklands MU 2, Surbiton 3; Hampstead and Westminster 3, Loughborough Students MHC 2; Reading 2, Beeston 1.

Men’s Conference East: Old Loughtonians 1, Holcombe 3; Oxted 1, Bromley and Beckenham 3; Richmond 4, City of Peterborough 1; Teddington 1, Indian Gymkhana 1; Wimbledon 5, Cambridge City 0.

Men’s Conference North: Leek 5, Preston 1; Wakefield 2, Doncaster 2.

Men’s Conference West: Bristol Firebrands 0, Cheltenham 1; Fareham 2, Team Bath Buccaneers 4; Guildford 3, University of Birmingham 1; University of Exeter 0, Cardiff & UWIC 0; Whitchurch 1, Havant 2.