It was an epic final day in the NOW: Pensions Men’s Finals as Beeston defended their title against East Grinstead with a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory. Ben Arnold scored the winning penalty for the Bees as George Pinner, back in goal after seven weeks out through injury, made some fantastic saves to keep East Grinstead at bay. Earlier in the day Surbiton beat Reading in another dramatic shoot-out to secure third and a place in Europe* next season.
In the NOW: Pensions Play-Off battle it was a day for Brooklands MU to remember as they secured a 3-1 victory over already promoted Southgate to join them in going back to the top flight next season.
NOW: Pensions Men’s Championship
East Grinstead 1 (1)
Andy Piper 12 (FG)
Beeston 1 (1)
Sam Ward 5 (PC)
(East Grinstead 1-3 Beeston in shoot out)
The final game of the weekend and the battle for the championship title started explosively, both sides pushing hard but it was Beeston who sealed the opening goal. A penalty corner in the first minute allowed Sam Ward, who’s been in fantastic form this season, to step up and fire home an impressive drag flick giving them a 1-0 lead over East Grinstead. Spurred on by their conceded goal, East Grinstead came back fighting, Tim Deakin in particular looked threatening to Beeston’s defence. An impressive reverse stick strike from Andy Piper gave East Grinstead the equalising goal bringing the score to 1-1 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was hard fought by both sides, both desperate to take the lead but cautious not to concede another goal. Beeston’s George Pinner remained steadfast in goal, despite Mark Gleghorne’s best efforts and Beeston’s Adam Dixon and Ben Arnold looked strong on the counter attack. No further goals were scored in the second quarter, however, meaning the score remained 1-1 heading in to the half way break.
A strong reverse stick strike from Ashley Jackson almost put East Grinstead in the lead early on in the third quarter but a leaping Pinner denied the goal. Wesley Jackson looked to score also, but attempts failed to phase an experienced Pinner. With little time left of the quarter, Beeston won themselves a penalty corner but a shot was aimed straight at the legs of East Grinstead goalkeeper Richard Potton. The score remained 1-1 coming in to the final quarter.
End to end play ensued in the final quarter, both teams desperate to find the winning goal. East Grinstead’s David Condon and Beeston’s Sam Ward both had shots on target but both Pinner and Potton refused to let up in goal. A goalless last quarter meant the final score was 1-1 and for the second time in the day the result would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Pinner’s experience stood him in good stead only allowing East Grinstead’s Mark Gleghorne to slide one goal past him. Adam Dixon, Sam Ward and Ben Arnold all scored for Beeston, however, making the final shootout score 3-1 and Beeston were crowned Premiership champions for the 2nd year in a succession.
Ben Arnold, who scored the winning shuffle, said after the match “If I said I wasn’t nervous, I’d be lying. We practiced shuffles on Thursday and I scored a couple, so I put my hand up to take one. I’m glad that George saved a few to take a bit of the pressure off me.”
Pinner added to this “I love a shoot out, the victory feels really sweet! East Grinstead finished top of the league but we managed to beat them twice during the season and we were determined to make it a third time tonight. We’re delighted with the result.”
Penalty shoot-out Information
East Grinstead Beeston
Ashley Jackson = o Harry Martin = o
Mark Gleghorne = x Adam Dixon = x
Mark Pearn = o Samuel Ward = x
Niall Stott = o Ben Arnold = o
Luke Taylor Oliver Willars
Surbiton 1 (1)
Alan Forsyth 23 (PS)
Reading 1 (1)
Jonty Clarke 3 (FG)
(Surbiton 3-2 Reading shoot-out)
Surbiton edged a win over hosts Reading in the third place match. With the score finishing 1-1 at full-time, a shoot-out was needed to decide the result. Heroics from David Kettle in the Surbiton goal gave them the victory.
The game started brightly for Reading, with Jonty Clarke putting away a loose ball to make it 1-0. Further chances came for them through penalty corners, and good efforts by Nick Catlin.
However, Surbiton were also creating chances of their own, and when they were awarded a penalty stroke following two penalty corners, Alan Forsyth stepped up to score and make it 1-1.
Both teams had further opportunities to score, including Tom Carson for Reading and Matt Daly for Surbiton. But Kettle and Reading’s James Bailey both made fine saves to take the match to a shoot-out.
Michael Watt, Alan Forsyth and Chris Grassick all netted for Surbiton while England duo Catlin and Carson found the target for Reading. With Surbiton sitting 3-2 up, Jonty Clarke stepped up to take Reading’s fifth and final penalty knowing he needed to score, but Kettle had other ideas and got down brilliantly to keep Clarke at bay with a fantastic stick save to secure his team third place and that vital *European spot.
Speaking after the match, jubilant Surbiton captain Ben Tibble commented “It was really, really good on the whole, we knew it would be a tough match, especially after going 1-0 down but we fought from the start. The support was brilliant too and it makes such a huge difference so that was great!
Looking ahead to the EuroHockey league knockout 16 tournament in Eindhoven, Tibble added “they’ll definitely be tough but we’ve got a couple of weeks to train and we’re feeling confident.”
*Currently English clubs are given three EuroHockey League places each year, however the number of places is dependent on the results of this year’s EuroHockey League Finals.
Penalty shoot-out information
Ben Tibble = O Nick Catlin = X
Michael Watts = X Simon Mantell = O
Alan Forsyth = X Chris Cargo = O
Chris Grassick = X Tom Carson = X
Matt Daly = O Jonty Clarke = O
NOW: Pensions Men’s Play-Offs
Southgate 1 (0)
Rick Gay 65 (PC)
Brooklands Manchester University 3 (1)
Peter Flanagan 13, 51, 69 (PC, PC, PC)
Brooklands MU secured their promotion to the top flight with a 3-1 over win over Southgate. The result sees both teams promoted to the NOW: Pensions Premier Division for the 2014/15 season.
Brooklands came into the game knowing that a draw would be enough to see them go up, and playing a team that had already booked their spot yesterday. And Brooklands came out the stronger side, keeping hold of the ball and creating the better chances. When they won their first penalty corner of the match, Peter Flanagan stepped up to drag-flick a shot low and wide of Chris Hibbert to make the score 1-2. Throughout the half, Aidan Khares and David Flanagan caused problems for the Southgate defence, again putting pressure on high up the pitch.
It was not all one-way traffic though, with Southgate keeping Chris Scott on his toes in the Brooklands goal, drawing some fine saves from the ‘keeper. And early in the second half, Scott denied Rick Gay from a penalty corner.
But it was Brooklands who got on the scoresheet next through another Peter Flanagan penalty corner for a 2-0 lead. Rick Gay brought Southgate back into the game with a penalty corner, but Flanagan completed a hat-trick with a final penalty corner to take the score to 3-1.
Speaking after the game player/coach Chris Hibbert said, “I’ve been very pleased with the tournament. We probably didn’t play the best hockey in the three games as we did over the course of the league season. We were disappointed with some of the passages of play we put together today and on the whole we could have done a little bit better, but it is mentally tough to get motivated for a game after knowing we’ve already been promoted and it obviously was a huge game for Brooklands, so credit to them for the way they played.”
Hibbert added, “Having been at Southgate for 10 seasons it’s now the third time I’ve been back up to the premier division with the club. This season has certainly been a massive high to get back up again in my final year. I’ve been so lucky to play with some fantastic players and coaches and it’s been a brilliant experience.”
Sheffield Hallam 2 (2)
David Goodfield 18 (FG)
David Bond 29 (FG)
Cardiff and Met 5 (2)
Luke Hawker 13, 32 (FG, FG)
Mark Whatling 43, 60 (PS, PS)
Rupert Shipperley 65 (FG)
Cardiff and Met held most of the possession in the opening of the match so it came as no surprise when they scored the first goal. An initial strike from Daf Tomos was blocked but teammate Luke Hawker picked up the ball and slotted a reverse stick strike over the keeper giving them a 1-0 lead over Sheffield Hallam. Similar scenes were seen minutes later at the other end of the pitch, a reverse stick strike from Sheffield’s David Goodfield gave them the equaliser; 1-1. Sheffield were quick to score again; a goal from David Bond, assisted by Tom Barrat, gave them a 2-1 lead. Not to be outdone, Cardiff equalised through another on target shot from Luke Hawker, bringing the score to 2-2 coming in to the half time break.
Cardiff were quick to assert dominance in the second half, obtaining a penalty stroke in the first ten minutes which was slotted it in to the bottom right corner by Mark Whatling bringing the score to 3-2. Cardiff held on to possession, constantly hunting for the next goal which they were granted in the 60th minute. A second penalty stroke was converted by Mark Whatling giving them a further 4-2 lead over Sheffield. It was Rupert Shipperley who sealed the deal, increasing Cardiff’s lead to 5-2 in the 65th minute. Despite the best efforts of Christy Walkin and William Hearne, Sheffield were unable to score any further goals and were defeated 5-2 by a strong Cardiff side.
Speaking after the game, Cardiff Captain Lucas Eriksson said “The tournament has been tough, but every single game we’ve been there or thereabouts. It’s a shame it took until the last game to finally put the performance in, but it’s nice to end on a win. We’ve won the league two years in a row, and we’ve got to keep going and build on the experience we’ve had this weekend.”
Play-Off tournament standings
P W D L F A Pts
1 Brooklands MU 3 2 1 0 8 5 7
2 Southgate 3 2 0 1 5 3 6
3 Cardiff & Met 3 1 0 2 6 5 3
4 Sheffield Hallam 3 0 1 2 5 9 1
Source: England Hockey Media Release
Photograph: Beeston celebrates their win! Source: Ady Kerry (c)