East Grinstead 4 Reading 1
By Dave Wright
Reading finished their NOW: Pensions League fixtures with a 4-1 defeat at Premier Division winners East Grinstead.
But Blues' performance will still give them plenty of confidence ahead of their England Hockey Cup semi-final against Brooklands in Manchester this Sunday.
They more than matched the highly successful Sussex side for much of the game and were on level terms until Griffiths struck two goals in as many minutes late in the game to seal victory for the hosts.
"It was the best we have played since Christmas, certainly over 55 minutes," said Reading coach Andy Watts.
"But in last 15 minutes we were caught a little bit on the counter attack and left exposed at the back."
Reading, with Ireland captain John Jackson back in defence, played with more flair and at a much higher tempo than they had when losing 5-1 at home to Wimbledon a week earlier.
Tommy Alexander also returned in goal, but was beaten for the first time in the 26th minute when Chris Griffiths cut in from the left before firing low into the net.
Blues equalised in the 34th minute when Richard Mantell fired a penalty corner high into the net and they deserved to be on level terms at the break.
It was a game that East Grinstead had to win in order to finish top of the table, knew they had to raise their game to overcome a battling Reading side.
Mark Pearn shot inches wide of the post and Alexander made two fine saves, while, at the other end, skipper Chris Newman was only inches away from giving Reading the lead.
Blues continued to hunt for more goals, but their adventurous spirit cost them the game.
East Grinstead were quick on the counter attack and Griffiths supplied neat finishes in the 56th and 57th minutes to complete his hat-trick.Andy Piper added a fourth in the 69th minute to give a scoreline that slightly flattered EG.
Despite the defeat, Blues can go to Manchester on Sunday in a confident mood, especially as they expect to have England midfielder Dan Shingles back from his finger injury.
Blues lost the away league fixture 5-4 despite being 4-0 up and were beaten 3-1 at home, where again they were first to score.