Men's Hockey League Play-Offs

cardiff celebrates
Cardiff and Met 4 (3)
James Carson, 28 (FG)
James Kyriakides 29 (FG)
Luke Hawker, 33, 44 (PS, FG)

Canterbury 3 (2)
Craig Boyne, 9 (FG)
Andrew Sutherland, 32 (PC)
Wei Adams, 55 (PC)

Two goals from Cardiff and Met’s Luke Hawker breathed new life into their promotion prospects. Having slipped to a 3-0 defeat in their first game against Loughborough Students, Walid Abdo’s side knew nothing less than a win would do against Canterbury. Despite a see-saw battle, Hawker’s brace made all the difference and ensured Cardiff still have something to play for going into the final round of games.

Cardiff started the brighter of the two sides, forcing two penalty corners in quick succession. They were unable to beat Diccon Stubbing’s in the Canterbury goal though and despite the early pressure it was Canterbury who took the lead after nine minutes. Stuart Goodman drove down the right and his drilled in cross found Craig Boyne inside the circle. The Kent centre forward expertly collected the ball, turned and calmly lifted it over James Fortnam in the Cardiff goal to give his side a 1-0 lead. 

The action was end to end and both sides created plenty of chances with the game coming to life in the 28th minute.  Four goals in a frantic four minutes ensured Cardiff went into the half-time team talk with a slender 3-2 advantage.  Firstly, James Carson scored a wonderful individual goal before James Kyriakides fired home from close range to give Cardiff a 2-1 lead.  Canterbury bounced back immediately when Andrew Sutherland reacted quickest at a penalty corner, stabbing home the rebound after Wei Adam’s initial strike was saved. However, straight from the re-start Cardiff were attacking the Canterbury goal again and a foul by Stubbings forced the umpire to award a penalty stroke. Up stepped Luke Hawker, the West Conference Men’s Hockey League top goal scorer and he kept his cool to slam home low to the keeper’s right. 

Adams came close to finding the equaliser at the start of the second half but his penalty corner strike was well saved by the pads of Fortnam. The next goal proved to be crucial and it went the way of the Welsh side. Hawker bagged his second of the game and his side’s fourth, roofing it into the net from close range to give his side a two goal cushion. With 25 minutes left on the clock, Canterbury weren’t to be written off and they continued to create chances with both Boyne and Goodman coming close. Adams set up a tense finish when he fired a penalty corner high into Fortnam’s net but the Welsh side held their nerve and clinched the 4-3 victory.   

Goal scorer Luke Hawker was delighted with the result:
"It was an exciting game, good to get a win and keeps us in the hunt for tomorrow. I was pleased to score as I've missed out recently through injury, so it was good to come back and have a positive influence on the game. The support has been great, and it's brilliant to see so many people down here cheering us on."

Richmond 0 (0)

Loughborough Students 5 (2)
Dan Faulkner, 7 (PC)
Ed Greaves, 9, 48 (FG, FG)
Luke Taylor, 41 (PC)
Ed Horler, 68 (FG)
 
Two goals from Loughborough Students Ed Greaves gave the students one foot in the Premier division as they made it two wins from two with a dominant 5-0 win over Richmond.

Captain Dan Faulkner opened the scoring, deflecting home from Luke Taylor's drag flick. This was swiftly followed by a scrap in the circle with Ed Greaves pushing it past the keeper to give the students an early 2-0 lead.

Taylor, who has scored from 25 penalty corners this season, attempted to add to the tally but his shot found keeper Jamie Legg's pads. Richmond had their chances with the best falling to John Harris. He drove in from the right along the baseline only to be denied by Toby Reynolds-Cotterill in the Loughborough goal.  The maroons shirts kept pushing as the Students struggled to get it out of their half before the break but they were unable to convert and it remained 2-0 heading into the break.

The Students continued to dominate in the second half and an effortless Taylor drag flick to the keepers top left made it 3-0. Loughborough found their flow and on the 48th minute Ed Greaves tapped in the fourth at the far post.

 Richmond applied the pressure in the last five minutes, hoping for a consolation but Loughborough's Ed Horler had other ideas. He finished the match with an electric individual counter attack, beating the keeper and slotting the ball in at far post to seal a 5-0 victory for Loughborough Students.

 Speaking after the game, Captain and goal scorer Dan Faulkner was pleased with how his team defended:

“I think we performed really well – most of all we put in a solid defensive performance. We attacked really well which helped but our defensive performance was the biggest thing for us. It’s another game tomorrow against Canterbury and anything can happen but we’ve still got to go and win.”

The final round of the Men's Hockey League Play-Offs takes place tomorrow with Loughborough Students taking on Canterbury and Cardiff and Met playing Richmond. Tickets are available to buy on the gate.