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.