RICK Mantell scored a late goal as Reading beat Brooklands 3-2 in Manchester on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

Team manager Tim Hamilton described his side’s performance as “gritty and resolute”, adding: “Going up to Brooklands is always a tough challenge given the distance travelled and their tough, confrontational style, so we were delighted to secure all three points.”

The Blues made an ideal start by taking a third-minute lead through Duncan Riddell from a penalty corner.

They stayed ahead until three minutes into the second half when Peter Flanagan equalised and four minutes later brother David put Brooklands ahead.

Stuart Loughrey brought the scores back level on the hour mark and there were just three minutes remaining when Mantell (pictured right) fired home the winner after Blues had forced another penalty corner.

GB and England international defender Liam Sanford made a welcome return to the side after three weeks out with a groin injury.

Winning for the fourth time in six games, Reading occupy fourth place in the table with 12 points, three less than pace-making Surbiton.

The Blues will be looking to make it three victories in a row when they host sixth-placed Hampstead & Westminster at Sonning Lane on Saturday (6pm).

Nick Park and Ben Francis are set to return after helping GB Under 21s earn a silver medal in the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia last weekend.

They lost 2-0 to Australia in the final.

In the Investec Women’s League Conference West, Reading became the first side to take points off leaders Trojans by defeating them 1-0 at Sonning Lane on Saturday.

The visitors started brightly in front of a crowd of around 200 and forced early penalty corners, but the Blues defended them well and took the lead in the 27th minute through captain Emma Thomas, who in the midst of a clump of players expertly tucked a penalty corner into the bottom left-hand corner.

Trojans, seeking to make it six wins in a row, came out strongly in the second half determined to retain their unbeaten record, but Reading showed a lot of guts and character to hold them out and were generally in control of the game.

Young goalkeeper Mila Welch, replacing the injured Aurora Mears, earned credit for keeping a clean sheet.

Wiz Chambers was voted player of the match for Reading, who with four wins and two draws are now the only unbeaten team in the Conference West, just one point behind Trojans.

Blues travel to Exeter to play eighth-placed Isca this Saturday (12 noon).