East Grinstead take fifth consecutive title

East Grinstead celebrate maxifuel super sixes victory 450

The men’s final of the Maxifuel Super Sixes competition had a lot to live up to as the semis had produced a staggering 30 goals. With both sides playing attacking hockey a 6,000 strong crowd saw East Grinstead take a record equalling fifth consecutive title with a 7-1 win over Reading.

The match started at a frenetic pace as both sides looked to gain an early advantage. East Grinstead captain Glenn Kirkham opened the scoring for his side with a neat finish despite a good effort from Reading keeper James Bailey. Celebrations were short lived as in-form Stephen Dick added to his impressive goal tally when he levelled things up for Reading seconds later to make it 1-1.

 Richard Mantell got a yellow card after 11 minutes which meant a three minute stint in the sin bin. East Grinstead were able to capitalise on the man advantage when Kirkham despatched his second of the match to give the defending champions the lead. They were able to keep the pressure on, winning a penalty corner which the teenage German international Hendrik Geyer expertly netted to put his side 3-1 up.

A time out was called by Reading with three minutes of the half remaining but they were unable to stifle East Grinstead who continued to threaten. Simon Mantell saved a penalty corner effort off the line when it hit his facemask but a penalty stroke followed; Richard Smith slotted home powerfully making the score 4-1.

Less than two minutes into the second half Smith made it 5-1 to East Grinstead through another penalty stroke as this time the ball had hit Richard Mantell on the line when it was goal bound. On 26 minutes Mark Pearn finished off a cracking move by East Grinstead to score what could easily be voted goal of the Finals for a 6-1 lead.

Despite going a man down when Adam Jordan was shown a green card, East Grinstead continued to have a hold on the game. With seven minutes remaining Richard Mantell was designated a kicking back as Reading tried to up their attacking threat. It was Mantell who came close when his penalty corner effort rebounded off the upright in the 35th minute. However, Pearn showed how to finish as his individual break at pace resulted in East Grinstead’s seventh of the game and what proved to be an unassailable. His side pressed until the final whistle when they were awarded a penalty corner but as Reading didn’t have a keeper in place they sportingly put the ball long to bring the final to a close.

Speaking after the win, East Grinstead captain Glenn Kirkham said, “It’s always nice to get personal accolades but, more importantly, it was a great win for the team and everyone performed. It might be an old cliché, but we took our chances, we played well and dug in deep to come out on top.”

Kirkham also named the player of the match added, “The crowd was fantastic. We have a great East Grinstead following who were here today in voice which was a massive boost.  Of course it’s also nice to have a personal fan base and get my name on the score sheet, too.”

 Speaking about the consecutive Championship title, Kirkham explained, “It’s a massive achievement to win five on the bounce; we have a good calibre of players.  Players’ that feature in and around the Great Britain and England setup which gives us the experience and ability to win big games like this. Now, its work tomorrow, time to go home and put my feet up!”