East Grinstead Men target record sixth win

East Grinstead's Joe Naughalty 450

EAST Grinstead will be looking to secure a sixth consecutive indoor title when the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Men’s Championship gets underway this weekend.

They were comfortable winners in the Maxifuel Super Sixes Championship last year, beating Reading 7-1 in the final at Wembley.

The men’s Premier Division fixtures for this weekend are now taking place at Cocks Moor Woods Leisure Centre, Alcester Road South, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 6ER.

“It’s going to be an exciting first weekend, and the new format will be great for every body – players and spectators alike,” said East Grinstead manager Matt Jones.

“We’ve won five in a row, and eight in total. I think if we win again this time it will be an all-time record, which will be great.

“We want to build on the success we’ve had in recent years, and re-affirm our position as one of the leading clubs in the country and in Europe.”

This year the format has changed to five-player teams, and the other sides will be gunning for East Grinstead and hoping to end their dominance.

“Moving from six players to five throws up challenges, but it doesn’t present too many problems,” added Jones. “Play will be a little bit more open, and we will see goalkeepers coming on and off a lot more.”

East Grinstead’s experienced squad includes two sets of brothers – Ashley and Wes Jackson and Niall and Ross Stott. They again have Czech Republic international Fillip Neusser in goal to boost their hopes of a sixth successive title.

Beeston, who East Grinstead have beaten in the last two finals, rely on their usual outdoor squad to provide a challenge indoors. And perennial challengers Reading, welcome back former international keeper Nick Brothers, who has retired from the top flight international game.

East Grinstead face in-form Beeston in their opening match at 14:30 on Saturday, with Beeston having also opened the day’s proceedings with a clash against Holcombe side at 10:30.

And East Grinstead close proceedings on day one with a clash against Reading at 18:30 in a repeat of last year’s final.

Last year’s campaign ended in disaster for Beeston as they were beaten 12-4 by Reading in the semi-final. They can make amends for that early on as they kick off the day’s action against Holcombe at 10.30.

Holcombe will be up for the fight though and have made a strong start to their outdoor campaign. They have lost only one game in 11 so far and lead the Conference East. They will play Bowdon in their other game at 15.30.

Last year’s other semi-finalists, Canterbury, have a difficult double-header of Reading and Loughborough Students to contend with.

Indoor specialist Doncaster also play Loughborough Students and will hope to get the better of Sevenoaks in their other match.

The Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Finals will be played on 2 February 2014 at Wembley Arena. You can get more information and buy tickets at www.englandhockey.co.uk/maxi5s

Fixtures for Saturday, December 14 2013:
Beeston v Holcombe 10:30
Bowdon v Sevenoaks 11:30
Doncaster v Loughborough Students 12:30
Canterbury v Reading 13:30
East Grinstead v Beeston 14:30
Holcombe v Bowdon 15:30
Sevenoaks v Doncaster 16:30
Loughborough Students v Canterbury 17:30
Reading v East Grinstead 18:30

Fixtures for Sunday, December 15 2013:
Bowdon v Doncaster 09:00
Canterbury v East Grinstead 10:00
Holcombe v Sevenoaks 11:00
Loughborough Students v Reading 12:00
Beeston v Bowdon 13:00
Doncaster v Canterbury 14:00
East Grinstead v Holcombe 15:00
Sevenoaks v Loughborough Students 16:00
Reading v Beeston 17:00