Source: Ravi Ghowry

Investec Women’s Finals Weekend: 3rd/4th Championship Play-Off

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Reading snatched the win in the 3rd-4th place playoff with an impressive display to see off a determined Clifton side at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Clifton had taken the lead from Liz Sinton’s penalty corner but goals from Emma Thomas, Ellie Cockburn and Helen Richardson-Walsh turned the tide and gave the Sonning Lane outfit a 3-1 win.

3rd/4th Championship Play-Off: Reading 3-1 Clifton

READING: Emma Thomas 39 (PS), Ellie Cockburn 59 (F), Helen Richardson-Walsh 63 (F)

CLIFTON: Liz Sinton 26 (PC)

 The first quarter was notable for some excellent goalkeeping by Clifton’s Caitlin Jeffries. Reading forced a series of penalty corners, allowing them to go through what seemed to be their entire repertoire but Jeffries stood firm to ensure it remained scoreless.

The second quarter was much more even as Clifton found their way back into the game, breaking the deadlock on 26 minutes. Liz Sinton forced home from close range after Sarah Ellis had made the initial save from a penalty corner. In the process of making the save, Ellis was injured and left the field to be replaced by Grace Lawes. The No2’s first action was to force a rampaging Els Mansell wide ensuring the shot was off target and the score remained 1-0.

Reading forced yet more penalty corners but Kate Richardson-Walsh’s flick was saved by Jeffries with Aileen Davis producing a splendid goalline clearance from Emma Thomas’ follow-up, keeping it at 1-0 going into half time.

Reading restored parity shortly after the break thanks to an Emma Thomas penalty stroke and then Elen Barnes went close with another penalty corner as Clifton’s defence was put under intense pressure. There was plenty of industry and endeavour from both sides but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Reading took the lead. A beautiful move down the right set up Cockburn and the former Scotland star made no mistake, firing home to make it 2-1. Jeffries made another outstanding block after Wiz Hunt’s pace and cross almost set up Becky Halle sliding in but then with seven minutes remaining, Reading got their reward. A neat exchange of passes just outside the circle let in Helen Richardson-Walsh, who finished well to make it 3-1 and secure the win.

Reading captain Emma Thomas told England Hockey afterwards: “Yesterday was really disappointing, but to come back from 2-0 down to get to shootout was a real achievement for us. The end of the season has gone really well and we had a lot of momentum coming into this finals weekend, so it was disappointing to not be in the final today. We knew we wanted to finish our season on a high, we scored three fantastic goals and are really pleased with the performance. It’s a great foothold for us going into next season.”