Goals from David and Peter Flanagan kept Brooklands alive in the race for promotion as they grabbed a precious win over Cardiff and Met who will have to go back to the West Conference after experiencing playoff heartbreak for the second year in a row.
The game was played at a terrific pace as both sides pushed hard to get the vital breakthrough. Aidan Khares broke into the D for Brooklands but he was halted by the defence, the ball broke to Richard Slater but his reverse stick shot went over the bar.
Brooklands were creating the better of the chances and James Riddell did well cutting in from the right but his shot was well smothered by goalkeeper Lee Ible.
On 22 minutes Brooklands took the lead. Khares robbed the defender just outside the D and slipped the ball to David Flanagan who lifted the ball in from close range. Immediately from the restart Cardiff drew level. The ball was cut back from the left where Luke Hawker slapped in from just inside the D. Cardiff could have taken the lead as Rhys Gowman latched onto an aerial through ball and beat the goalkeeper but his shot was cleared off the line. Jack Pritchard also had a fantastic chance for Cardiff but his volleyed effort fizzed wide of the far post. With the teams going into the break level it was finely balanced as the second half started. Cardiff forced an early penalty corner but Henry Eriksson’s flick was well saved by Chris Scott to his right.
Walid Abdo’s side were dominating the game and Scott had to be out quickly to block from Hawker before Rupert Shipperly shot wide from a tight angle. Brooklands were on the back foot but to their credit stuck to their task well, defending solidly as they tried to play their way back into the game. With eight minutes remaining, they forced a corner. The ball was slipped left to Peter Flanagan whose pass was turned in by Khares at the far post for a precious goal. Brooklands almost made it 3-1 but Peter Friend’s aerial pass was hit just wide by Peter Cornell. Cardiff’s final chance fell to Shipperly but he only managed to hit fresh air with just Scott to beat and Brooklands took the win.
Mark Aveson-Bateman, Brooklands’ coach was delighted with his team, telling The Top of the D:
“It wasn’t the best game in terms of quality but it’s about getting the job done in these circumstances. We defended very well at times and that’s what wins you games. We believe we’ll always score, we have lots of goals in us but defence is something we’ve been working on and i’m pleased with how it went. We’ll go for the three points against Southgate, we don’t have it in us to play for a draw so we’ll go for it.”
Cardiff now go up against Sheffield tomorrow, knowing they will be in the West Conference next season, whilst Brooklands need just a point to join Southgate in the top flight.