Premier League Champions again!Published: 04/04/2018
“We are the Champions” So sang the Wimbledon supporters at what was a momentous end to a hard fought season. Whoever planned the fixtures of the Premier League did a remarkable job as three games on Sunday determined the outcome. Wimbledon, Beeston, Surbiton, Reading, Canterbury and Hampstead and Westminster were playing each other and the results were critical to each team.
At the end of the day, the winners and League Champions for a second year running, are Wimbledon. Against the odds, a depleted Surbiton beat Beeston to finish second and Hampstead and Westminster beat Canterbury to gain a top four place. Canterbury are relegated. The results also meant that a very good Reading side finished out of the top four.
The Wimbledon Reading game meant that a Wimbledon win could make them champions and a Reading win would see them safely in the top four. Having to play three high pressure games in five days was telling on Wimbledon and Reading came at them from the start with bursts of scintillating high speed hockey. Reading were also chasing and closing down Wimbledon giving no time on the ball.
Also what a pleasure it was to see two fine umpires in full control.
The constant pressure and domination told and despite some superb defending and goal keeping, including one tip onto the goal framework, Reading took the lead just before half time as Bailey in goal stopped two close range shots before the third was put past him.
Reading fully deserved the 1-0 lead at the interval and whilst Wimbledon had chances at the other end, Reading could have had more goals.
Wimbledon came back and restored the balance in the second half and whilst the game was end to end, the tide was turning and Captain Jonny Kinder in particular up front, was causing problems. The Reading keeper saw more action. On 57 minutes this paid off as an attack into the left hand corner of the D resulted in the ball being flashed across to the far post where Simon Mantell tipped it in.
A draw was no good to Reading so it was all or nothing and the excellent Wimbledon defence led by Michael Hoare, repulsed attack after attack, ably supported by some great goal keeping from James Bailey. At the other end Wimbledon were now going for broke and pressing. With five minutes remaining, they won a second short corner. Jonny Kinder launched the ball at goal on the ground and it was deflected in by Jonny Codling.
The crowd were on fire, Reading went to a kicking back, Wimbledon kept their heads, but it was still nail biting stuff until the final whistle.
To win the Premiership two years running is a superb achievement and is a credit to all involved. The outstanding coaches, Ben Hoare and Ben Marsden must deservedly be complimented and be pleased with the contributions of new and established players, particularly after a shaky start to the season. Also the other areas of background support are so important. The ball boys and girls, always well turned out, have been a credit to the flourishing junior section and what about the supporters who have travelled the country come rain or shine. Manager, sponsors, office staff, physios, programme sellers...... the list is endless.
Finally the players, who have gritted their teeth, demonstrated their skill and professionalism and put in full team performances time after time. A very big well done!!!!
Team: James Bailey 2, Ben Arnold 3, Ben Tibble 4, Peter Friend 5, Chad Conlon 7, Simon Mantell 9, Peter Small 11, Michael Hoare 12, Iain Gordon 14, Jonny Codling 16, Phillip Ball 17, Iain Lewers 18, Jonty Griffiths 19, Nathanael Stewart 23, Johnny Kinder 32, Ben Roe 26