With East Grinstead going up against Holcombe and Reading facing off against Canterbury, this Sunday’s Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Semi Finals promise to be an exciting spectacle. Each side has their share of match winners, The Top of the D looks at some of the key players and the key battles in each of the games. First up, reigning champions East Grinstead vs. Holcombe.
Filip Neusser: The giant Czech keeper, in his second stint with East Grinstead after a successful campaign last season can lay claim to being the best indoor goalkeeper in the world. He is lightning fast off his line, dominates the D and has incredible reactions for a man of his size. Experience and ability are hard to beat, and the Czech has both in spades.
Allan Dick: Perhaps one of the most important players in the semi-finals. Dick is a fine goalkeeper in his own right, boasting international caps for Scotland and a pedigree few could argue with. His importance is heightened by not just his ability as a shot stopper but by Holcombe’s style of play. With the Kent side rotating their goalkeeper to have an extra field player in attack, Dick’s judgement as to when the situation is right to make the change, and his ability to adapt when he re-joins the play will be pivotal to Holcombe’s chances of an upset.
Glenn Kirkham: East Grinstead’s captain is Mr Reliable. You can count on the fingers of one hand the amount of mistakes Kirkham makes in a season, let alone a game. He keeps the East Grinstead Machine ticking over, and is a vital part of their side. The former Chelmsford man scored twice in last season’s final and if East Grinstead are to pick up yet another indoor title you can bet the skipper will have played a vital part.
Richard Lane: Lane has seen it all before. A former Great Britain international and a current England Indoor International, the 29-year-old skipper has a strong reputation from his time at Cannock. Lane has shown; as if there was any doubt, during the league phase of the competition that he is a superb player, chipping in with nine goals, making him the team’s top scorer. Holcombe are new to this stage of the competition, so his experience will be crucial in helping his teammates deal with the pressure of the glitz and glamour of finals night.
The Goal Machines:
Niall Stott: Stott found the net 14 times in the league phase of the competition, making him East Grinstead’s top scorer. The Scotland star is an excellent indoor player and a fierce and determined competitor, too. A seemingly unlimited supply of energy and a terrific will to win makes him a player you would always want to have on your side. His eye for goal is one of the best in the domestic game, scoring from both penalty corners, where he possess a decent drag flick, and from open play where he scores all kinds of goals.
Dan Coultas: Holcombe shared their 47 goals across 12 different scorers, with Captain Richard Lane the most prolific with nine. Next in the top scorers’ charts for the Kent side is another Cannock Old Boy, Dan Coultas. Coultas, part of the current Great Britain central programme is comfortable and strong on the ball. He linked up well with Barry Middleton in the first week of the competition and then with Richard Lane when the GB skipper had left for India. The Scotland International scored seven times overall, including a vital strike in the decisive match against Doncaster. Coultas is a potent weapon on penalty corners but is no one trick pony, as he showed with some excellent goals from open play.
With East Grinstead going for a sixth consecutive indoor title, Holcombe have it all to do to stop the Sussex side. However, with their fair share of quality players the Kent side could still spring a surprise. It promises to be an action packed encounter to get Finals Day off to an explosive start.
Want to see this match live? Buy tickets to the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Championship Finals on Sunday 2 February!
This article originally appeared on the England Hockey website.