By Ed Cole
Wimbledon's Championship play-offs are off to the perfect start thanks Ben Hawes's hat-trick and a comfortable 4-1 victory over Cardiff.
Wimbledon go into this weekend's finale sitting top of the round robin Championship table, ahead of Sheffield Hallam, who beat Southgate 3-0.
They face Southgate on Saturday, and Sheffield Hallam on Sunday, with only the top team winning promotion to the MHL Premier Division.
Cardiff opened the scoring in the 12th minute with their first and only short corner.
It took Wimbledon just two minutes to equalise from a short at the other end, when Hawes's flick was stopped by the keeper but Richard Alexander converted the rebound.
When you realise that Tom Millington in goal only touched the ball once in the entire game it sounds like one way traffic but that was not the case.
There were chances at both ends with Chris Gregg and Johnnie Kinder lively up front for Wimbledon.
In the 29th minute, another short corner scrimmage resulted in a penalty stroke for the Dons, duly put away by Hawes.
Wimbledon had not been at their fluid best in the first half and the 2-1 score line was a relief- however that changed in the second half.
Ben Marsden's men began to dominate and their better hockey and was rewarded with another short corner conversion by Hawes following good work by Jared Treadaway.
There was still the odd scare as Cardiff countered but on 63 minutes Hawes glided into the D and unleashed an unstoppable reverse stick shot.
It was now all Wimbledon and they could have had another three goals as Cardiff were down and out.
A good start then to the tournament, especially when the side settled in the second half.
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