BASINGSTOKE hockey men’s team made history last Sunday as they won a thrilling penalty flicks victory at Spalding to reach their first ever national final, writes Ruth Crawford.
The Hampshire side won their NOW: Pensions England Hockey Vase semi-final 5-4 on penalty flicks, after the match had finished 3-3.
Basingstoke will now meet near neighbours Camberley and Farnborough in the showpiece final at Highfields Sports Centre, Nottingham on Saturday May 3.
The visitors took the lead in a fairly open first-half, as man-of-the-match Graham Lang buried a short corner drag flick.
Spalding were dangerous on the break and from one attack down the left, Stuart Cunnington, who had scored 58 goals this season, unleashed a reverse stick cross shot which was met at the far post by Glenn Perkins for the equaliser.
Lang restored Basingstoke’s lead soon after from a second short corner and this was followed by a great short corner save from goalie Adam Smith.
From this Pete Hood fed Alex Hope, who spotted Daniel Bowden in space and he squared for the onrushing Sam King to slot home for a 3-1 lead.
However, before the break Basingstoke conceded two penalty flicks. The first was converted by Michael Morris and the second, hotly disputed, from Spalding captain Josh Rowbottom made it 3-3 at half-time.
After the interval, the away side dominated for large periods, but with no further goals the game went straight to penalty flicks.
Greg Smith scored the opening flick and a save from Adam Smith gave Basingstoke the early advantage in the best of five.
The next six flicks were all scored as Ben Shaughnessy, Lang, and Alex Miller netted for the visitors. At 4-3, Jacques Lourens missed the chance to win it for Basingstoke as his effort was saved and Spalding scored to take the penalties into sudden death.
Greg Smith stepped up again and squeezed the ball home and then Adam Smith’s saved against his opposing captain which gave Basingstoke a memorable victory.
Captain Adam Smith said: “This is such a momentous achievement from everyone involved at Basingstoke Hockey Club. We as a team are so proud to take the club to a national final for the first time in its history.
Supporters are welcome to attend the final and should contact the club via their website for details.
On the previous day in the league, the men already crowned champions lost 1-0 at home to Romsey, while the second team won 4-1 at Winchester.
The thirds beat Fordingbridge 5-0 to secure fourth spot in their league and the fourth team’s promotion chances ended with a 4-0 loss to second placed Fareham.
The Vikings finish third in Division 10 after a 4-0 win at Camberley and Farnborough thanks to Stuart Coleshill’s hat-trick after one from Alex Tatnall.
The fifths finished fifth in the same league after a 2-2 draw at home to Hamble as Steve Wares and Alex Simmons scored.
The Ladies missed out on promotion on goal difference in South Division 3B, despite beating Andover 2-1, as Catriona Bausor and Chrissie Waller netted. The ladies’ second team lost narrowly 1-0 to champions Southampton II.
The third team having only amassed eight points by Christmas finished unbeaten in the last two months and beat Southampton III 2-1 at Down Grange.
Heidi Barker netted from Sue Pett’s pass and Ellie Pearson with a superb short corner strike.
The fourths won 1-0 at Fleet and Ewshot, as Mel Kinchington scored in her last game for the club.
The fifths enjoyed a 4-0 win at home to Petersfield, with Liz Orr, Claire Keeley, Michelle Rounding and player-of-the-match Gemma Carswell on the score-sheet.