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Jamie Wallace was the hero for East Grinstead as his hat-trick sealed a 3-2 victory over Beeston to help the West Sussex side qualify for the top six in the Men’s Premier Division.
East Grinstead went into the final weekend before the winter break in eighth place in the standings, knowing only a win would do to claim the last top six place.
They also needed fellow top six rivals Oxted to lose to Hampstead & Westminster if they were to usurp them in the league as a nerve-jangling final day played out in dramatic fashion.
Beeston, who were two points behind Oxted in seventh but with a better goal difference, landed the first blow in the sixth minute as Kai Aichinger scored from a penalty corner.
East Grinstead responded ten minutes later as Wallace levelled the scores from another penalty corner before he put the home side in front on 18 minutes.
The two sides went into the break level again after Beeston responded with an equaliser on 31 minutes, with Sam Apoola converting to set up a blockbuster second half.
But it was Wallace who rose to the occasion to secure the victory, striking home the winner on 61 minutes to ensure East Grinstead kept their top six qualification hopes alive.
And Oxted’s 4-1 defeat to Hampstead & Westminster meant East Grinstead completed a remarkable turnaround, having only secured their first win of the season a fortnight ago.
Hampstead were already assured of their place in the top six but ensured they went into the mid-season break on a high thanks to a brace from Rupert Shipperley.
Matthew Guise-Brown had opened the scoring for the visitors at Oxted School from a penalty corner in the 16th minute before Josh Kelly doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark.
Shipperley put the result beyond doubt before the half-time interval with his first goal on 34 minutes, although Nick Giles gave Oxted hope with a penalty stroke on 54 minutes.
Any thoughts of a comeback were put to bed on 67 minutes, though, as Shipperley struck again to seal a comfortable win and dash Oxted’s hopes of a place in the top six.
Elsewhere, Old Georgians overtook Wimbledon at the top of the standings going into the winter break as they defeated defending champions Surbiton 2-0 at St George’s College.
Old Georgians went into the game on the back of three consecutive wins and took the lead after just eight minutes when Chris Griffiths found the target for the home side.
A second goal followed on 25 minutes through Lee Morton to put Old Georgians 2-0 up at the break and that was the way it stayed as the hosts saw the second half out.
With previous league leaders Wimbledon having already completed their ten matches ahead of this weekend, Old Georgians’ ninth win of the season saw them move to the summit.
University of Exeter also picked up their first points of the season with a 3-3 draw with University of Durham, although it could have been even better after leading twice.
Charles Taylor put the home side ahead on 20 minutes, but Durham responded after the break with two goals in five minutes from Jakob Schmidt and Max Garner.
Rhys Bradshaw equalised for Exeter on 50 minutes before Louis Ridge put the hosts back in front again, only to be denied in the 70th minute by Schmidt’s second goal from a penalty corner.
The final game of the weekend between Brooklands MU – whose bid for the top six ended last weekend in double header defeats – and Holcombe was postponed due to a frozen pitch.