An heroic goalkeeping performance from East Grinstead’s Richard Potton was not enough to see his side through to the KO8 as an extra time own goal from Rick Gay gave Beeston a 3-2 win in a compelling encounter.
East Grinstead were the first to create a real chance as Glenn Kirkham’s lovely pass put Mark Gleghorne through with just George Pinner to beat. Pinner was out quickly and did enough to force the Great Britain international wide and the chance was gone.
Beeston took the lead with their first real chance on 12 minutes. A long corner was played into the D and popped up off a stick, Rick Gay and Mark Gleghorne both missed the ball allowing Carl Smith to turn and fire in a low shot past Potton’s left foot. Simon Egerton could have doubled the lead as he was in on goal, but Potton did well to block and then cleared with his glove.
On 18 minutes Kirkham drew the sides level. Ashley Jackson was allowed time and space outside the D and played a perfect pass which the East Grinstead No.4 deflected into the net at full stretch. It was a lovely goal. Kirkham grabbed his second on 25 minutes as he picked up the rebound from a good save by Pinner and slotted the ball between the Great Britain keeper’s legs. Ben Arnold almost equalised immediately with a clever spin and shot but his effort went just wide of the far post.
Beeston seemed to be having trouble finding their range from penalty corners and a number had gone begging already when Potton saved from Oliver Willars and Tim Lewis’ follow-up somehow came back off the woodwork.
Adam Dixon restored parity on 47 minutes, latching on to an excellent pass from Egerton to round Potton and slot home on the reverse. At the other end, Pinner made an excellent double save from a Jackson penalty corner and a Niall Stott rebound to keep the scores level.
Potton then became a one-man wall to keep East Grinstead in the game with a string of excellent saves. First he prevented Kirkham scoring an own goal, then a save off an Egerton penalty corner followed by a double save from yet another corner. With Ollie Ashdown and Ashley Jackson both sent to the sin bin EG were up against it, but it looked like their goalkeeper might get them out of jail. Another world class save from another Egerton corner and a save, only just from a reverse stick effort form the edge of the D got his side to extra time.
With their numerical disadvantage East Grinstead sat deep to try and see out the suspensions, but Beeston kept knocking at the door. Egerton was denied by a plunging right hand save from Potton and it looked like Grinstead might get away with it. On the stroke of half time Willars slapped a penalty corner goalwards, with Potton down to cover the shot, the ball struck Rick Gay’s stick and went into the net for a match-wining own goal.
It was cruel on Potton who had performed miracles to keep his side in the contest. In the end, Beeston’s huge penalty corner count, and East Grinstead’s numerical disadvantage were the key factors. A fantastic game and a great advert for English hockey.