Wimbledon top after beating Reading

Sam Spencer celebrates his goal for Surbiton against Beeston. Credit Rob Inglis-David Kissman Photography - 480x320
Wimbledon came from behind to beat Reading 2-1 and top the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division, a result which means their opponents will miss out on the play-offs.

Reading’s defeat left the door wide open for Hampstead & Westminster to take the final play-off place and they took their chance with Matt Guise Brown’s hat-trick helping them beat Canterbury 5-3.

Only a win would do for Reading and Ciaran O’Connell put them ahead after 35 minutes. However, Simon Mantell squared the scores for Wimbledon just before the hour and Jonny Codling scored the all-important winning goal from a penalty corner with four minutes remaining.

On the other hand, Canterbury needed a win to escape automatic relegation. Sam Barrett, Christian Schellinger and James Oates put them into a 3-1 lead at half time with Guise Brown scoring for Hampstead.

But Hampstead hit back with second half goals from Will Calnan, Sam French and two more from Guise Brown.

Elsewhere former leaders Surbiton beat hosts Beeston 5-2 to leapfrog their opponents and finish second. Arjan Drayton Chana scored twice for the visitors with Zach Wallace, Conor Williamson and Sam Spencer also on target. Elliot Hibell’s brace proved to be only a consolation for Beeston, who still qualify for the play-offs with third place.

Sevenoaks already knew their best-case scenario would be relegation play-offs and that proved to be the case after Ashley Jackson’s hat-trick saw them beaten 6-1 by East Grinstead. Tony Wilson scored a brace and Simon Faulkner notched Grinstead’s other with Brandon Gibbs on target for Sevenoaks.

They will now take on the winners of each Conference - the University of Exeter, the University of Nottingham and Oxted - in the League Play-Offs to determine whether they will stay in the top flight next year.

Elsewhere Peter Flanagan scored a late leveller for Brooklands MU as they drew 2-2 with Holcombe. David Flanagan scored the other for Brooklands with Matthew Symonds and Glenn Eyers slotting home for Holcombe.

Men’s Conference East
Old Loughtonians secured their Conference East status for next season with a 3-0 defeat of already-relegated West Herts, thanks to goals from Tom Stumbke, George Lilley and Elliot Smith.

Old Georgians must go to the relegation play-offs their 4-1 defeat at the hands of champions Oxted. Chris Porter was on target twice.

Southgate finish second and ended their campaign on a high with a 2-1 win against Cambridge City. Matt Daly hit a brace in Teddington’s 2-1 defeat of Richmond and Ollie Baxter also scored two as his Chichester side beat Brighton & Hove by the same score.

Men’s Conference West
The University of Exeter needed a last-minute winner against second-from-bottom Cheltenham to claim the title in the Men’s Conference West.

Cheltenham desperately needed a win to climb out of the bottom two but with Exeter needing the win to wrap up the league, it proved to be a close encounter. The breakthrough came in the 69th minute with James Thomas sweeping in from a penalty corner.

Cardiff & Met’s 3-3 draw against Olton & West Warwicks means that they are now out of the championship race, although they still have to play the champions in their final game.

Isca secured their national league survival and Clifton Robinsons were relegated after the two sides battled to a 5-5 draw. The University of Birmingham beat Havant 5-2 and Fareham drew 3-3 with Team Bath Buccaneers.

Men’s Conference North
The University of Nottingham simply had to win today to clinch the Conference North title and they did so in style, beating Doncaster 5-2 with Edward Iffla, Adam Laitt and Jonny Ruiz putting them 3-1 up at the break.

Loughborough Students finish two points off Nottingham but did all they could in their last game, beating strugglers Cannock 5-1. Murray Collins led the scoring with a brace.

The University of Durham drew 1-1 with Deeside Ramblers and Bowdon beat Preston 4-2. Sheffield Hallam drew 2-2 with Yorkshire rivals Leeds.

Relegation is yet to be decided with three points separating Deeside, Preston, Doncaster and Cannock. Of those sides, only Doncaster have played all of their games.

* The above photo shows Sam Spencer celebrating his goal for Surbiton against Beeston. Credit: Rob Inglis – David Kissman Photography.

* Full results, tables and fixtures from the Men’s Hockey League are available here.