East Grinstead won their fifth National Indoor title in a row with a hugely impressive display to overcome old foes Reading at Wembley this afternoon.
Both Filip Neusser and James Bailey had already made early smothering saves when the deadlock was broken. Niall Stott drove round the outside of the defence and squared for Glenn Kirkham who finished the move to make it 1-0.
Reading hit back almost immediately, Simon Mantell played a superb first-time pass after receiving the ball off the boards and Stephen Dick levelled the scores from close range. Dick almost gave Reading the lead a minute later but his effort went just wide of the far post.
Bailey made a fine diving save from Tim Streuven, a save bettered by Neusser at the other end who was out like lightning to block Dick’s penalty corner. The giant East Grinstead goalkeeper was being kept busy and showed his class again with a fine stick save, this time from Nick Catlin.
Kirkham put his side ahead with a classy deflection, giving Bailey no chance and then Hendrik Geyer scored a penalty corner after a lovely through-the-legs pass from Richard Smith.
Reading tried to work their way back into the game, but Simon Mantell was wayward with his penalty corner and East Grinstead extended their lead only moments later, Richard Smith despatching a penalty stroke low to the goalkeeper’s right.
After the break, East Grinstead extended their lead, again from a Smith penalty stroke. Reading started to look like a beaten side. Bailey was still doing his best to keep his side in it, this time tracking Geyer across the D and making an excellent block as the young German went for goal. The score became 6-1 in the 27th minute of the half however, Adam Harper and Mark Pearn swapped passes before Pearn sent a fierce flick into the roof of the net. Neusser continued to keep Reading at bay, saving from Simon Mantell again and Nick Catlin.
Reading went to a kicking back in an attempt to get back into the contest, and they almost got their goal, Richard Mantell crashed a drag flick onto the woodwork. It looked like it just wasn’t to be the Sonning Lane side’s day. Pearn added a seventh with time running out and that was pretty much that.
East Grinstead’s fifth consecutive indoor title secured, and Captain Glenn Kirkham rewarded with the Man of the Match award. England Hockey’s big night in had proved to be a very successful one. Certainly for East Grinstead.
I watched the games on the TV and found it interesting to see the different style of indoor that English teams seem to play compared to teams in other countries. It has changed over the past few years but I still think the English teams try and play outdoor hockey inside. Having played against the top Scottish sides I feel that they try to pass the ball more and make more use of the boards rather than depending on players’ stick skills and how well they can dribble with the ball to get past players.
Neusser had some amazing saves, I couldn’t believe how quickly he was getting out to the flick at corners – makes me think I need to get some serious speed training in!
I have played against Stephen Dick a few times and while he did look a lot less fit than the rest of the team, I think his quality as an indoor player was obvious.
That’s a very interesting observation. I’ve not seen any of the Scottish indoor, but have seen some of the German competitions. The more I think about it, the more I think you’re right. Perhaps we need a longer indoor season, which might help to hone some of the players’ skills and techniques more.
I’d seen Neusser play a few times before but had forgotten just how good he is. His speed out at PCs was phenomenal. I think he made a big difference.
I’m a big fan of Stephen Dick. He’s deceptively quick and a very talented player. I thought he showed, certainly in the semi finals, that he’s a very good indoor player.
It was a complete walkover in the end!
Some pointless observations:
I was a bit miffed that my best mate Cheeseman was left on the bench, whilst some tubby pleb called Dick was allowed to stomp around giving away corners.
Some of the players are starting to go bald.
Smurf turf >>>>>> whatever that yellow nonsense was.
Erm, that’s it.
Thanks, as ever for the observations. In Stephen Dick’s defence, he was man of the match in the semi-final, so was well worth a place in the team.
Some of the players are indeed balding, some are even going grey.
The smurf turf does look awesome. Maybe they’ll go for blue flooring next year.
Cheers for continuing to read and comment!