Wimbledon hold their nerve to capture crown

Brogdon with MHL trophy 2016

Wimbledon 1 (1)
Alastair Brogdon, 24 (FG)

Reading 1 (1)
Tom Carson, 15 (FG)

Wimbledon win 4-3 after penalty shootout

Wimbledon retained the Men’s Hockey League title with a dramatic shootout win over Reading. Tom Carson gave Reading the lead in the first half but his strike was cancelled out by Alastair Brogdon. With nothing to choose between the two sides it went to a shootout. Reading’s goalkeeper Tommy Alexander and Wimbledon’s James Bailey performed miracles in the shootout saving four times apiece but Wimbledon held their nerve allowing Phil Ball to fire in the winner.

The first quarter was a cagey one. A series of good interceptions by Richard Mantell kept Wimbledon at arm’s length whilst at the other end Mikey Hoare ensured chances were at a premium for Reading. The Sonning Lane side threatened through a Richard Mantell penalty corner which flashed just wide. At the other end Ian Sloan tested Tommy Alexander’s reflexes and the Reading stopper was up to the job, getting down to make a smart stop from a penalty corner. With seconds to go until quarter time, a piece of magic from Carson engineered some space and blasted a backhand rocket into the bottom corner giving Bailey no chance and making it 1-0 to Reading.

Mid-way through the second quarter the reigning champions drew level. James Osborn threatened and although he could not quite get his shot away, the ball fell for Brogdon who tapped home. James Jewell had a gilt-edged chance to make it 2-1 late on in the half. He collected an aerial pass inside the circle and unleashed a bullet strike but it flashed just wide ensuring it stayed 1-1 at half time.

Reading forced the first penalty corner of the second half five minutes in. Carson took the shot with a fierce drag flick but Bailey was equal to the job, getting a strong glove to the ball to push it round the post. Wimbledon hit back and forced a penalty corner. Roper slipped the ball to Jewell but the No3’s radar was off and it flew wide of the far post.

The third quarter passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Chances were hard to come by with Hoare continuing his colossal display in defence for Wimbledon ensuring Reading were unable to find a way through. Sloan was sent to the sin bin with a yellow card and Wimbledon had a player disadvantage for the rest of the quarter.

In the fourth period Simon Mantell weaved his way into the circle and forced Bailey into a block with Pieter Wiegman making an incredible saving tackle to stop Carson turning in the rebound. Roper joined Sloan in the sin bin making it nine vs. 11 but Wimbledon were able to weather the storm until they were back to a full team. Despite a frantic end to end final few minutes, neither side could find a way through and the match went to a shootout.

Sloan and Jackson went first for their respective sides, but could not beat either goalkeeper. Steven Ebbers kept his cool to give Wimbledon the lead and then Atkins missed for Reading as did Roper for Wimbledon. Simon Mantell calmly slotted his chance home to make it 1-1. Wimbledon skipper Brogdon was denied by Alexander and then Carson fired his effort wide. Ball converted to put the pressure on Shingles but the Reading man did not hesitate and took the shootout to sudden death at 2-2.

Mantell made it 3-2 and Ebbers levelled it up at 3-3. Carson won a penalty stroke on the next effort but Jonty Clarke, nominated to take it for Reading fired wide to the disbelief of the crowd. Next Brogdon was denied once again by a miraculous piece of goalkeeping from Alexander. Bailey saved from Jackson and then Roper’s effort struck the woodwork. Shingles was kept out by Bailey leaving Ball to win it, which he duly did.

Shootout in full:

Wimbledon Reading
Ian Sloan - no goal John Jackson - no goal
Steven Ebbers - goal Tim Atkins - no goal
Phil Roper - no goal Simon Mantell - goal
Alastair Brogdon - no goal Tom Carson - no goal
Phil Ball - goal Dan Shingles - goal
Steven Ebbers - goal Simon Mantell - goal
Alastair Brogdon - no goal Tom Carson - no goal
Phil Roper - no goal John Jackson - no goal
Phil Ball - goal Dan Shingles - no goal