Wimbledon upset Reading to confirm their Premier Division status
Wimbledon hockey club confirmed their status as a MHL Premier Division top dog with a 2-1 win at title chasers Reading on Sunday.
Phil Ball and Phil Roper got the goals that inflicted on the hosts only their seocnd defeat of the season, and it means there are only eight points between Beeston at the top, and Wimbledon in fifth.
With all the bad weather around, this sunny afternoon provided a fitting backdrop for another keenly contested game of first class hockey.
Wimbledon dominated the early play, helped by a first minute goal from Ball.
Reading looked shocked and Wimbledon looked the better team for the first 20 minutes, and the lead was doubled on 21 minutes when Roper converted a short corner.
This seemed to be the signal for a Reading revival and they increasingly fought their way back into the game.
Wimbledon keeper Tom Millington made a great save from a Richard Mantell short corner and in the run up to half time, Reading were dominant with long balls forward from Wimbledon being immediately returned with interest.
Ben Dando made a superb intervention on the line with Millington beaten and Wimbledon were pleased to hear the half time whistle.
The second half started poorly - Wimbledon allowed Reading far too much space down the left of the defence and the home side capitalised with a simple passing movement across goal which left Jonty Clarke with a tap in.
It was time for some gritty defending with Michael Hoare outstanding.
Reading won several short corners and no one should underestimate the running out of Richard Alexander as he closed down Olympian Richard Mantell, who must be ranked as one of the world’s top short corner specialists.
Reading did hit the bar and Millington was in the thick of it, smothering close range shots, but the Wimbledon defence held.
At the other end, Roper had another short corner well saved so Wimbledon were still having their moments, but several cards effectively reducing the side to 10 men, did not help.
As the game went on, the excitement mounted and despite their efforts and one or two crosses that whistled across the face of goal, the Reading threat faded and the Wimbledon work ethic and team work came out on top.
Dons host sixth-placed Canterbury this weekend.
Team: Millington (GK), Dando, Hoare, Bunyan, Marsden, Hawes, Alexander, Weir, Pryce, Brogdon, Ball, Herbert, Kinder, Osborn, Roper, Greg.