There was a sense of déjà vu at the Super 6s finals as East Grinstead repeated the feat from the 2015-16 season, winning both men’s and women’s titles at the Copper Box in London.
The first leg of the double was completed in emphatic style as a Sophie Bray goalscoring masterclass helped put Buckingham to the sword in a 10-2 win. Olympic gold medallist Bray helped herself to four goals as the Sussex side turned Buckingham’s fairytale run to their first final in to a nightmare.
“It was one of those games where the balls kept going in the net for us. We kept the tempo high and it was a lot of fun out there.” said Bray, afterwards.
“It was a dream start for us. To get a comfortable lead at half time was fantastic. In a final that settles the nerves and makes it a lot easier.”
The dream start was a 4-0 lead after just 12 minutes with Bray scoring twice, Ellie Rayer and Elise Nix also finding the net.
Bray completed her hat-trick before the break to make it 5-0 and despite Buckingham creating some chances they were unable to get past a formidable Becky Waters in goal.
With the game effectively over, East Grinstead added to their tally with Bray notching a fourth, Rayer completing a hat-trick; Pippa Lock and Coca Hall got in on the act, too.
Bray told The Top of the D afterwards:
“It was a great performance from everyone. Becky Waters in goal was phenomenal. I lost count of the number of double saves she made, the rest of the team made the chances for us to put away up front. It’s a great day for us to win our second title and hopefully the men’s is to come.”
“Hopefully the men’s is to come” proved to be a prophetic statement as East Grinstead’s men’s team held their nerve to beat Surbiton in a shootout to capture title No14 in this competition.
The two sides traded blows in the opening exchanges and despite an apparent lack of goals, the match had the crowd gripped right to the end.
Tom Sorsby struck first for Surbiton with a driving run and a powerful finish but East Grinstead were level soon after with a well-worked goal from Wesley Jackson.
Surbiton re-established the lead through Niall Stott only for East Grinstead to make it 2-2 through Ben Mackey. Jonny Gall pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a superb finish which looked like it would send the title to Surbiton, but Ashley Jackson found the top corner out of nothing with time running out, to make it 3-3 and send the match into a shootout.
Simon Faulkner and Tijn Van Groesen both scored in the shootout whilst Drayton Chana missed for Surbiton. David Goodfield kept Surbiton hopes alive but East Grinstead just needed to score their third to win it. Who better to see striding up to the mark in that situation than Ashley Jackson? The man you’d bet your house on and he delivered. Jackson calmly fired into the roof of the net to make it title number 14 for East Grinstead and a repeat of the double they achieved in 2015-16.
Simon Faulkner, the East Grinstead captain said afterwards:
“It was a difficult game. Surbiton did a lot of good work finding space and that made it really hard to defend. We didn’t take our chances but we showed real character to come back against a side like Surbiton. We never led and we were always fighting against the scoreboard and the clock but it was great from the lads.”
“We’ve had supporters here from age 5 to 95 years old. It’s great that we were able to put on a show for the supporters and we’re delighted to get it done and get both titles.”