Bowdon Hightown 5* (2)
Sally Walton 3,23 (PC,PC)
Nicky O’Donnell 10 (F)
Fay Nash 30 (F)
Tina Cullen 35 (F)
Reading 5 (3)
Alex Danson 5,9,11,34 (F,F,F,PC)
Sam Quek 33 (F)
*Bowdon Hightown wins 9-8 APS
A tightly fought super sixes women’s final between Bowdon Hightown and Reading completed the women’s indoor season at Wembley Arena on Sunday. After a nail-biting, action packed 40 minutes it took 22 penalty strokes to separate the sides with Bowdon Hightown winning the national indoor title for the second time in three years; 9-8 on penalty strokes following a 5-5 draw.
As the two sides looked to suss the other out both sides were on the scoreboard inside the opening five minutes. Cheshire side Bowdon Hightown struck first in the third minute, England and Great Britain international Sally Walton converting a drag flick from a penalty corner. Two minutes later, another England and GB star, Alex Danson, scored her first of four with a neat finish after good team work in the build-up.
The game continued to ebb and flow and in the ninth minute Danson converted a second. Immediately afterwards the 2009 champions replied with skipper Nicky O’Donnell scoring with a drag flick from the top of the circle to level the scores again at 2-2. To complete a flurry of five goals in the opening 11 minutes, Danson sealed her first half hat-trick with a fine individual effort, lobbing the goalkeeper with a reverse stick shot after running past the defence.
After the lightning start, things settled slightly with Reading going in at the break 3-2 up, allowing the teams and near capacity crowd to draw breath.
Bowdon equalised early in the second half, Walton scoring a carbon copy of her first from another penalty corner to level the score at 3-3.
It was in the 29th minute when Reading’s Becky Halle was yellow carded for a tackle whilst trying to track back that Bowdon Hightown took advantage to add yet another twist to proceedings. Taking advantage of the numerical disparity, Fay Nash converted a cross to give her side a 4-3 lead. But, as soon as Reading were restored to their full compliment they equalised, this time through England and Great Britain’s Sam Quek. And a minute later, they took the lead again, when Danson scored her fourth with a drag flick from a penalty corner.
With six minutes remaining there was still time for things to change yet again and the experienced Bowdon Hightown forward Tina Cullen did just that, firing home from a ball crossed from the right. The result, a 5-5 scoreline and a penalty strokes competition to decide the 2011 super sixes Champions.
After three penalties the score was 2-2 with Danson and Cullen failing to hit the back of the goal. With that the match moved into sudden death but a quick death it was not and it took a further eight penalties on either side to separate the sides. Heartbreakingly for Reading captain Emma Thomas, her effort – the 22nd penalty in all – was saved by the young Bowdon Hightown goalkeeper Amy Tennant low to her left. The Cheshire club’s heroine was all but smothered as her excited teammates raced to congratulate her and begin the celebrations in honour a tenth national indoor title.
Bowdon Hightown will now represent England in Europe in 2012.
super sixes National Indoor Hockey Finals
Sunday 30 January 2011
East Grinstead 8 (5)
David De Prez 1,5,13 (F,F,F)
Barry Middleton 9,17 (F,F)
Niall Stott 30,39 (PC,F)
Mark Pearn 38 (PC)
Beeston 5 (3)
Tim Davenport 3 (PC)
Adam Dixon 8,16 (F,F)
James McBlane 27 (F)
Stephen Wood 37 (PC)
East Grinstead were crowned national indoor champions as they won the super sixes Finals for the third year in a row, defeating Beeston 8-5. The West Sussex team were never dominant, but crucially never lost control of the match.
With a near capacity crowd of just under 5000 roaring the teams on, the men’s final came to life instantly with East Grinstead taking a 1-0 lead within seconds of the start. After scoring four in their earlier semi-final, David De Prez added a fifth to his tally for the day. A break down the left hand side resulted in a cross to the unmarked De Prez, who made no mistake in slotting it past eventual Maxifuel Man of the Match George Pinner in the Beeston goal.
The Bees reacted almost immediately, with Tim Davenport converting a penalty corner from the top of the circle to equalise. Almost as quickly as Beeston had got themselves back into the game, they were left cursing as East Grinstead re-took the lead through De Prez, who took advantage of confusion in the Beeston defence and calmly slotted it past Pinner.
The frantic pace of the opening few minutes showed no signs of letting up at all as Beeston equalised for the second time in just the eighth minute. Some excellent build-up play left England and Great Britain international Adam Dixon with a relatively simple conversion.
The East Grinstead men were not to be denied and found themselves ahead within a minute. Darren Cheesman, another international star, broke down the right and pulled it back for his England and Great Britain captain Barry Middleton to lob into the net and restore the lead. After 13 minutes, East Grinstead managed to stretch out a two goal gap for the first time in the match when De Prez completed his second hat-trick of the day. It was a familiar story as the defending champions broke down the Beeston defence and De Prez had the calmness of mind to put the ball into the back of the goal for 4-2.
Almost predictably, Beeston fought their way back into the match three minutes later. A scramble involving Richard Potton, the East Grinstead goalkeeper, his defence and some Beeston attackers on the left hand side of the circle resulted in the ball breaking to Dixon, who made no mistake in flicking the ball home. East Grinstead managed to maintain the pattern of the first half by adding a fifth just before the end of the first half. Barry Middleton was the beneficiary of the East Grinstead attacking prowess, and pushed the ball beyond the advancing Pinner.
Despite East Grinstead’s two goal half time cushion nothing was guaranteed and with both sides looking capable of scoring further goals there was still plenty to play for in the second half.
In comparison to the frantic nature of the first half, the second half began almost slowly. Pinner continued to make a nuisance of himself to the East Grinstead attack, pulling off a string of excellent saves to keep the score as close as it was. Seven minutes into the second half Beeston pulled one back, but not without controversy. With East Grinstead’s Adam Harper injured in the circle during the build-up, play continued and James McBlane added to the Beeston tally. The goal stood despite the East Grinstead protests.
With ten minutes remaining, ‘Grinstead again stretched their lead, Scotland and Great Britain international Niall Stott with a drag flick from the top of the circle.
Beeston gave themselves a flicker of hope towards the end of the match when they pulled to within one goal of EG at 6-5. Stephen Wood injected the penalty corner to the top of the circle before receiving it back and slotting into the largely open goal.
After hitting the bar on another counter-attack, East Grinstead restored their two goal cushion once more with an almost carbon copy of Beeston’s fifth. This time, Mark Pearn was the injector who received it back and finished off the well executed set piece. In a desperate attempt to get back into the game in the final minute, Beeston withdrew their goalkeeper Pinner and played with six outfielders. Instead of benefitting from the extra man on pitch, Beeston lost the ball almost straight away and Stott rounded the defence before passing the ball into the empty goal to make it 8-5.
With East Grinstead pulling into a three goal lead Beeston were consigned to the runners-up spot. Winning captain Scott Ashdown rounded off proceedings saying: “It’s an awesome feeling [to win the super sixes Finals]; I’m just so pleased for the group that we didn’t let ourselves down. We played well and it’s a great result. Three times on the trot, we wanted to make that history for ourselves”. Speaking of the excellent support East Grinstead received on the day, he commented: “it’s so good to know you’ve got such good support from the fans”.
East Grinstead’s on-loan England and Great Britain captain Barry Middleton added: “We had a strong squad, a lot of depth and experience with some of these guys having played over a hundred internationals. We had a lot of creativity in the group and I think that’s been a big benefit to us.”
Beeston goalkeeper George Pinner, who will be one of the 12 English players that travel to Poznan in Poland for the FIH Indoor World Cup (8-13 February) was named Maxifuel Man of the Match following his performance in the final.
Source: England Hockey