MENS HOCKEY Cooper gives Exeter the edge

mens hockey league logoUniversity of Exeter returned to the Men's Conference West summit on goal difference following yesterday's absorbing 2-1 top of the table home win over title rivals Guildford.

Nick Cooper's second half double sandwiched William Blockley's 57th minute close range strike to put Exeter - captained by central defender Chris Barker - back on top of the table.

Cooper - a 21-year-old second year student at Exeter from Surrey - deftly deflected in a 61st minute penalty corner winner to beat Guildford's three times former GB Olympic keeper Simon Mason after opening the scoring on 39 minutes following a foul on Exeter's South African Olympian Ian Haley.

Guildford were skippered by Plymouth Marjon old boy Alastair Falconer at centre half. 

It's too early to talk about promotion in the tightest Conference West title race for years.

Third placed Cardiff & UWIC on 29 points can overtake the top two – both on 31 following round 15 – if they triumph in Friday night's floodlit eltaffico against cross-city rivals Whitchurch at WIS (2000).

But that is far from a given following a confidence-boosting 2-1 win for Tom Fisher's Wayfarers over Cheltenham at WIS yesterday after they trailed to a 12th minute Alex Salmon opener.

Rhys Welsh levelled on 57 minutes before Nick Rees converted a last minute penalty winner.

Jimmy Devney's Cardiff side clawed back from 3-0 behind after 56 minutes to draw 3-3 at Havant thanks to goals from Dafydd Tomos (57) and blues' late goal hero Jack Pritchard (61 69).

Tim Davenport made it 17 goals in 15 games with his 22nd minute opener at University of Birmingham to put fourth placed Team Bath Buccaneers 1-0 ahead at half time.

The home side turned the game around in the second half to win 3-1, leaving last season's champions four points off the pace.

Paul Langford, Olly Pomphrey and Ben Mcgeogh all scored from penalty corners as Firebrands lost 4-3 at home to sixth placed Fareham.

• Isca's 3-0 Davis Wood Hockey League Premiership win at Cardiff University clinched promotion for the Exeter club in their centenary year.

The capital win in Wales – courtesy of goals by Max Ansell, Rick McCollum and Tom Poustie – meant Simon Tremlett's side surged 10 points clear of promotion rivals Bristol University in round 20 of 22.

Isca’s win ended a 13-year wait for a national league return for the men’s first team.

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