Marsden praises Wimbledon’s resolve as Sloan seals vital win ahead of grudge match

Ben Marsden praised Wimbledon men’s combative spirit as Ian Sloan grabbed a late winner in a pulsating 5-4 victory at strugglers Canterbury in the NOW: Pensions men’s hockey league Premier Division on Sunday.

Wei Adams’ penalty corner gave the hosts the lead but Sloan replied just before half time and James Osborn put Wimbledon in front after the resumption.

Canterbury’s Michael Farrer and Jamie Spain scored two quick-fire goals but Blake Govers and Phil Roper re-established Wimbledon’s lead before the home side’s Craig Boyne restored parity until Sloan’s penalty corner goal.

Wimbledon face fierce rivals and league leaders Surbiton next Saturday with Marsden confident that victory over Canterbury sets them up well for the clash.

“The result against Canterbury puts us in a good frame of mind before Saturday’s crunch tie,” he said.

“Despite conceding four goals, there were a lot of positives to take from our performance – especially our resilience and resolve.”

After a pedestrian first half which ended all square, the two teams came out revitalised after the interval as the lead alternated between the two sides.

Wimbledon took the ascendancy early in the second half as Osborn diverted a low cross home past the stricken host’s goalkeeper.

The home side rallied, and two goals within the space of a minute – a Farrer penalty corner and an opportunist strike from Spain – reversed the complexion of the game.

New Wimbledon signing Govers replied with a penalty corner just four minutes after – his first goal for the club – and Roper gave the visitors the lead again from close range before the hour-mark.

The hosts replied once again to make the score 4-4 as Boyne found the back of the net, before

Wimbledon returned to south west London with the spoils as Sloan netted his second.

Canterbury are currently bottom of the table, but Marsden believes their position belies their ability.

“Credit to Canterbury, they gave us a real scare at times,” he said.

“If you saw the game, you would not imagine they are last in the table as they just would not lie down. They showed incredible commitment.

“Our whole team performance impressed me but I was particularly impressed with Ian and Blake.

“Both players got their first goals of the season and that will give them both a great confidence boost.”

Goalkeeper James Bailey made four outstanding late saves to win Wimbledon the points and leave Marsden believing they are on course to finish in the top four.

“The win takes us 10 points ahead of fifth-place Reading and we’re keeping up with the sides above us,” he said.

“It was our aim to finish in the top four and we are on target. A good result and performance against our fierce rivals Surbiton will further solidify that.”

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