NOW: Pensions Men’s Championship 3rd/4th Place Playoff: Surbiton 1-1 Reading (3-2 after shootout.)

David Kettle was Surbiton’s hero as the Welsh goalkeeper pulled off two miraculous saves in the shootout to give his side a 3-2 win after Reading and Surbiton played out a 1-1 draw in normal time. Jonty Clarke had given Reading the lead in the first quarter only for Alan Forsyth to cancel the strike out with a penalty stroke in the second quarter. With no more scoring in the remaining quarters the shootout, and Kettle’s chance to shine came around. 

Reading made a fast start to the game, pressing Surbiton high up the pitch and denying them space. They got their reward in the 3rd minute as Chris Newman’s reverse stick shot was saved by Kettle, only for Jonty Clarke, following in to slot the rebound home. A minute later it could have been 2-0. Tom Carson beat Kettle with a penalty corner but James Tindall on the line got a stick to the ball to clear off the line. Kettle was called upon again with five minutes remaining in the quarter, the Welsh international smothered well from Nick Catlin after Ben Boon had picked the England man out in the D.

Surbiton came back into it in the second quarter, forcing a series of penalty corners. Matt Daly could not find a way through from the top of the D but having changed the routine he burst into the D where he was upended, resulting in a penalty stroke. Alan Forsyth buried the stroke to make it 1-1.

Reading almost took the lead again but Jon Codling’s deft deflection came back off the post to the agony of the home crowd. Daly was frustrated again as his flick was closed down, James Royce followed up but Bailey saved well to keep the scores level. Kettle excelled himself again, making a stunning save from a Tom Carson penalty corner.

Both goalkeepers continued to excel in the third quarter with Bailey blocking bravely orm Daly and Fergus Dunn before Kettle made another incredible save to keep out a bullet strike from Catlin. There was no little drama in the fourth quarter as the crowd begun to turn their thoughts to the prospect of a shootout, which is what they got.

Ben Tibble went first for Surbiton and was brought down by Bailey, resulting in a penalty stroke. Forsyth was nominated to take it but he was kept out brilliantly by Bailey. Catlin then gave Reading the lead before Michael Watt levelled it up. Simon Mantell stepped up next but Kettle somehow made a block from a prone position to even things up. Forsyth showed nerves of steel to make it 2-1 an then incredibly, Chris Cargo kicked the ball en route to goal. Chris Grassick coolly lifted the ball over Bailey and it was matchpoint to Surbiton. Carson had to score to keep it alive which he did and then Bailey kept out Matt Daly to give Reading a lifeline. Jonty Clarke stepped up and drove in, he seemed to have rounded Kettle but just as he seemed destined to score, the Surbiton keeper recovered to keep him out and give Surbiton the win.

“We’ve been working on shootouts in training the last few weeks. It’s really important to stay on your feet and delay them as long as possible. When the time starts to run out people panic and that’s what you want to take advantage of as a goalkeeper.” said a delighted Kettle. “It’s nice to get the glory at the end but it was a really great team performance. It was great to bounce back after the disappointment yesterday and we’ll now look forward to Europe.”

Surbiton and Reading will both be in Euro Hockey League action from the 15th of April with Reading now needing to win the whole competition to qualify for next year.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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