Dragons take title on goal difference

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St Neots 1 Bourne Deeping 5

BOURNE Deeping secured the Division 3NW title and promotion with a 5-1 victory at St Neots on Saturday.

The Dragons go up at the first attempt since Bourne and Deeping hockey clubs merged last summer, clinching the division crown by the slimmest of margins.

Bourne Deeping pipped City of Peterborough 4ths to top spot on goal difference with the top two edging out Spalding by just one point.

BDHC were missing several regulars to complicate matters on the final day of the season and although they began well, they struggled to create clear cut chances.

Gradually the game opened up, St Neots grew in confidence and frustration began to creep into the away team’s play.

But as half-time approached, BDHC men’s first team player-of-the-season Chris Clarkson broke the deadlock with a neat turn and strike past the opposition keeper.

With the job far from complete Bourne Deeping started the second half under instructions to keep the ball moving with passing rather than dribbling - the basics which had seen the best of BDHC’s hockey all season - and it soon paid dividends.

Andy Kind and Clarkson combined for the latter to score his second, and soon afterwards Josh Oakley was rewarded for his hard work, calmly placing the ball past the keeper to give Bourne a comfortable three-goal cushion.

A St Neots defender conceded a penalty flick, which allowed Clarkson to complete a deserved hat-trick before Phil Arnold scored the fifth from a penalty.

With two minutes to go, St Neots scored a consolation with from a short corner which, although it wasn’t going to change the result, disappointed a defence that has ended up boasting the best record in the league.

Elsewhere in the side, the tireless Tommy Stopper stood out in midfield, Shane Carlton made an encouraging 1st XI debut, and stand-in skipper Andy Briault led the team well on a day that BDHC clinched the top spot with an impressive record of played 22, won 18, drawn 3 and lost 1.

Bourne Deeping 2nd 2 March 2nd 6

A STRONGER than expected March team ensured that Bourne Deeping weren’t able to win this penultimate fixture.

Both teams were in safe league positions and the game had the air of a match with little at stake.

Although the first team called up regular seconds players, the manner of BDHC’s defeat was disappointing, after a recent run of good performances, rather than the defeat itself. Their final game, in two weeks’ time, is also likely to feature a different team but will provide an opportunity to give some young blood an experience of second team hockey.

See next week’s Mercury for Bourne Deeping 2011-12 award winners.