Captain Hawes hails brilliant Wimbledon comeback as Brooklands’ bright start spolied

Wimbledon Hockey Club 3–2 Brooklands Manchester University

Phil Ball’s winning strike capped off a diligent fight-back from Wimbledon who played out two captivatingly contrasting halves of hockey on Sunday. 

Having been forced into defending very deep in the first period, two goals in two minutes just after the restart galvanised the home side, who had been outplayed as they found themselves 2-0 down.

Brooklands’ captain Peter Flanagan had scored twice from set plays for the visitors, who are yet to record a league win this season, but his strikes were cancelled out by GB international Phil Roper’s penalty and Johnny Kinder’s equaliser.

Ball completeed the comeback to secure victory and leave captain Ben Hawes delighted by the second-half showing.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the way we reacted in the second half, obviously going 2-0 down was not ideal but the drive we showed to turn the game around really reflects the team’s spirit.

“The tempo of play we showed in the first half was not what it should have been, however, we stuck to the game plan and half time allowed us to address some of the fundamental aspects of our game that had been letting us down.

“We constantly tried to vary our approach and what we were doing but our attitude was always that we would come back and win the game, and despite the result being very pleasing, we started poorly and that is something we have to rectify.”

Brooklands’ late arrival meant a delayed start, but the Manchester side began with great attacking flair that Wimbledon struggled to contain.

To make matters worse, the home side then lost Tom Woods after 22 minutes as he was taken to hospital having been caught above the eye with a trailing stick.

Three minutes later, Flanagan set about capitalising on Brooklands’ dominance. He first dispatched a penalty corner past James Bailey before beating the Wimbledon keeper a second time just two minutes later from a penalty stroke.

The comeback began on 46 minutes when Tejinder Hanspal was fouled and Roper accepted the chance to get back in the game as he scored the resulting penalty stroke.

The goal appeared to spark the home side in to life and Roper was at the heart of the second goal, a terrific passing move which Kinder tucked away from close range under pressure from two Brooklands defenders.

Within eight minutes of their first goal the turnaround was complete as Ball’s clever interception high up the field allowed Wimbledon to break, and, after playing the ball out wide he continued his run to score.

Brooklands had Oliver Clements sent off in the dying minutes for a second bookable offence as frustration began to get a hold on the visitors.

In contrast, buoyed by their determined comeback, Hawes and his team-mates held on to the result which leaves Wimbledon fourth in the league ahead of next week’s trip to leaders East Grinstead.

Wimbledon Ladies meanwhile secured a 2-1 win at Horsham courtesy of two penalty corner goals from Sophia Padt.

The win takes them up to fifth in Conference East.

Feature image courtesy of Rob Holding, with thanks

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