The spotlight fell on East Grinstead once again as the Sussex side hosted their second European competition this weekend. After the successful hosting of the Euro Hockey League last year the Saint Hill club welcomed teams from all corners of the continent to the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley to discover who would be crowned European Indoor Champions.
Harvestehuder THC 7-2 C.H. SPV Complutense.
Harvestehuder ran out comfortable winners in the end but thanks in large part to a heroic goalkeeping display from Borja Zumalacárregui they were made to sweat on the three points until puling away during the second half.
Harvesthuder took the lead early on as Johan Bjorkman converted Tobias Leitz’s cross from the right. They extended their lead through Michael Koerper’s penalty corner on six minutes only for Complutense to hit back a minute later through Antonio Sanz. Zumalacárregui in the Complutense goal took centre stage at this point, pulling off some incredible saves to deny Leitz, Christopher Borchard and Bjorkman. The Spanish side made their own chances too and Timo Koellen in the German goal was extended on more than one occasion, notably by Sanz and Victor Sojo.
The game was finely poised at the start of the second half with just one goal in it. Guillermo Nevado struck a post in the opening seconds of the half but then Harvestehuder stepped up a gear. Their ball pace and movement in behind the defence caused the Spanish side all sorts of problems, and but for yet more incredible goalkeeping from Zumalacárregui the Germans could have been out of sight. Somewhat against the run of play Sojo drew the sides level after driving the length of the field down the right before firing in from a tight angle.
Koerper restored the German side’s lead and they soon took control, scoring through Bjorkman, Koerper again (to complete his hat-trick) and Jan Phillip Heur before Borchard put a gloss on the score with the seventh with the last touch of the match.
Hockey Club Valenciennes 2-7 HC Olimpia-Kolos-Sekvoia.
The second game of the weekend finished in the same scoreline as the first. Despite being roared on by a very vocal travelling support the French side were put to the sword by an impressive display from the Ukranians.
Kolos took the lead in the sixth minute from a well worked move. Having kept the ball patiently at the back they worked it well to the right hand side where Oleksandr Andreyev crossed for Dmytro Luppa to apply the finish. The scores were levelled four minutes later as Romain Gryndzinski turned well in the D to set up Damien Vranckx to slot home.
The Ukrainian side re-established their lead through a smart penalty corner, from Oleh Polishchuk who fired a precise flick past the goalkeeper and it was soon 3-1 as Iirui Moroz tucked away another penalty corner. Sergii Diachuk was unlucky not to add a fourth but his effort crashed off the crossbar and away to safety.Valenciennes cut the deficit just before the break with a second goal from Vranckx.
Both sides were denied from penalty corners at either end in the early going of the second half with both goalkeepers making excellent blocks. With nine minutes remaining Luppa managed to sneak a low flick through to give his side a two goal cushion. This prompted a collapse from the French as they conceded three more from Diachuk, Moroz and Diachenko to give Olimpia an impressive win.
Dinamo Yekaterinburg 3-2 East Grinstead.
The competition’s first glimpse of the hosts did not quite go according to plan as Russian outfit Dinamo Yekaterinburg took advantage of a below par display from the English side to take a 3-2 win.
The visitors scored with their first effort on goal, a penalty corner from Captain Dmitry Volkov that beat Filip Neusser high to his right. With a dream start to build on Dinamo displayed some good, patient passing hockey during the first half. Content to keep the ball and probe waiting for an opening rather than forcing the play. Volkov could have had a second but his penalty corner was brilliantly blocked by Niall Stott. East Grinstead forced some penalty corners of their own but Ross Stott’s radar was off on the first one before Artem Dryanitsyn made a good sprawling save from the same player. Dinamo then extended their lead, Neusser kept out Aleksandr Lykov but Volkov was on hand to snap up the rebound.
East Grinstead started the second half with renewed purpose and pulled one back through Mark Pearn just three minutes into the half. Disastrously for the hosts Volkov completed his hat-trick a minute later with a penalty stroke. East Grinstead pushed hard to drag themselves back into the contest but a combination of the clock and some stout goalkeeping from Dryanitsyn left them frustrated. Niall Stott reduced the arrears on the final whistle but it was too little, too late.
Racing Club de Bruxelles 3-3 Partille SC.
The clash between the Swedish side and their Belgian counterparts was a classic “game of two halves” as the Swedes led 3-1 at the break before being pegged back by a strong second half display from Racing. Partille drew first blood in the fifth minute with a penalty corner goal from Karl Hemvik however just three minutes later Racing levelled the scores with a lovely move down the right that was finished by Thibault Cornille.
Niclas Franzen in the Partille goal was in good form saving well from Andrin Rickli and Cederic Charlier. His ability to keep the Belgians at bay paid dividends as Magnus Mattson restored the lead in the 15th minute from another penalty corner. A minute later Simon Melander made it 3-1 with a strong drive down the boards on the right and a low finish inside the near post. After half time Racing dominated scoring goals through Charlier and Rickli to level the scores. They could have won it had it not been for a late save from Franzen to deny Rickli from an acute angle.
C.H. SPV Complutense 2-2 Kolos-Sekvoya Vinnitsa.
Despite the low scoreline this was a hugely entertaining contest between two well matched sides. As he was in the first game, Victor Sojo was a constant thorn in the Kolos side in the early going. He fired wide of the far post in the first few minutes before forcing a good save out of Iaroslav Hordey. Despite the early pressure the Spanish side fell behind on 3 minutes. With no goalkeeper on the court Dmytro Luppa was afforded the simple task of scoring a penalty corner, which he duly did.
Complutense forced a series of penalty corners but found Hordey in inspired form as the No1 raced from his line to make blocks on no less than four occasions, keeping his side in front. Kolos threatened sporadically but were unable to add to their lead and went in 1-0 up at the break. Two minutes into the second half Kolos doubled their lead with a well worked goal down the right and a neat finish from Olexander Andreyev.
Four minutes later the Spanish side found their way back into the match with a penalty corner from César Sahuquillo and then a minute later Guillermo Nevado popped up with a lovely deflection to tie it up at 2-2. The game became frantic as both sides tried to grab an all-important winner but despite the best efforts of Sojo, who drew a wonderful save from Hordey in the dying seconds, the scores remained level.
Harvestehuder THC 13-6 Valenciennes.
Harvestehuder fired a warning to the rest of the teams in the competition with a ruthless display of finishing to see off the challenge of the French in a high-scoring clash. Johan Björkman did most of the damage, pitching in with six strikes as the German side ran riot in front of goal. The tone for the game was set in the early stages as the teams traded goals, Harvestehuder leading 3-2 after just eight minutes. Valenciennes were not going down easily, however and threatened the German goal on a number of occasions. The difference between the sides seemed to be the ability to take their chances. Time and again the French tested Tim Koellen however they had to go in at the break trailing 6-3.
The second half gave the crowd their money’s worth as ten goals were scored, including a Bjorkman hat-trick in the last four minutes. The German side maintained their 100% record and proved they are one of the teams to beat this weekend.
Dinamo Yekaterinburg 5-3 Racing Club de Bruxelles
Dinamo picked up their second win from as many games with an impressive display to overcome Belgian side Racing.
Thibauly Cornille gave the Belgians the lead on three minutes with a lovely deflection to turn in Cedric Charlier’s cross. That goal was cancelled out by another deflection by Sergey Spichkovskiy. Dmitry Volkov netted a low penalty corner in the 17th minute to make it 2-1. His side could have extended their lead but for some heroic goalkeeping from Jeremy Gucasoff who excelled on a number of occasions with some splendid reaction saves. When they did beat Gucasoff Volkov was unlucky to see his penalty corner come back off the post. After the break Dinamo pulled away from Racing with a three goal blitz in the space of three minutes, Evgeny Vakhmistrov, Igor Sinyagin and Spichkovskiy found the net to give Dinamo the initiative. Lucas de Mot scored two goals for the Belgians to reduce the deficit but the damage was done and Dinamo picked up their second three points.
Partille SC 2-6 East Grinstead.
The hosts gave the home fans something to cheer about with a much improved display to sweep aside Swedish outfit Partille. Niall Stott bagged himself a hat-trick as the English side put some points on the board in their second game. The first half was a cagey affair with both sides keen not to give anything away. Simon Faulkner and Christopher Hellstrand traded goals, but chances were at a premium and the sides went in locked at 1-1 at the break. In the second half East Grinstead turned on the style, reminding the fans why they have won six domestic indoor titles in a row. Two goals from England star David Condon gave them some breathing space before Stott took centre stage with his treble to make it 6-2 and send East Grinstead into their clash with Racing Club de Bruxelles tomorrow, full of confidence.
You can catch all the action over the next two days by heading down to the K2 and seeing some of the finest players in Europe go head to head. All the ticket information is here.