Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Wimbledon seal European hockey spot as Old Georgians celebrate title success

Weybridge — Just like the league table, Wimbledon coach Karl Stagno couldn’t watch the closing moments of their final quest for Europe. He needn’t have worried. Sam Ward’s low corner flick was the last hit of the champion’s season. The whistle left Wimbledon joining them on the continent.

Wimbledon, the national indoor champions, were fine value for their 3-2 victory in Weybridge to end their outdoor campaign. A crowd of around 300 had come to watch Old Georgians in their final match of the season, but from the outset Wimbledon held the upper hand.

That much was evident in the opening salvos as Wimbledon bore down on OGs’ goal. At one point, they were left with two defenders on the line after two runners went early. Kyle Marshall, Liam Sanford and George Pinner’s pads held firm.

At the other end, James Tindall just couldn’t find a full stick from a fizzing slap, while Tom Carson’s telepathic aerial was latched on to by his brother James, whose lob just went over the bar. It would have been some goal.

For Wimbledon, David Condon was in expressive form and touch, the England player opening the scoring from close range, followed up by Liam Ansell’s corner strike after the break.

It was a heated affair between these top two sides. Rhy Smith and Ward were involved in a heated altercation, which ended with shoving and the latter falling to the turf, while both sides traded plenty of vocals throughout.

Ward got OGs off the mark from a penalty stroke, but Wimbledon kept their shape and refused to crumble. An equaliser would have left the race for second place up in the air, with Surbiton winning at Hampstead & Westminster. A third for Wimbledon, credited to captain Ben Arnold in his last game for the club, gave them breathing space.

As time ticked down, Ward’s corner goal gave OGs some late hope. It came too late, as Stagno let out his emotion, Wimbledon rejoiced and then stepped aside for the hosts to lift their first Premier Division trophy. 

It left Surbiton short of the result they needed to usurp Wimbledon. At Paddington Rec, Surbiton were always in front as they ground out a 4-2 win at Hampstead & Westminster.

At the bottom of the table, University of Exeter kept their Premier Division place with a commanding 6-2 victory over Brooklands MU. Victory assured them of safety, leaving University of Durham to fall into Division One. They lost 4-1 at home to Oxted.

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