Champs East Grinstead beat rivals Reading

Reading's Jonty Clarke (R) and East Grinstead's Glenn Kirkham (L) - 450

REIGNING men’s indoor champions East Grinstead got their title defence off to a great start on day one of the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Championship Premier Division at Kings Heath in Birmingham on Saturday, ending the day top of the table as the only team with a 100 per cent record.

They battled back from behind to beat last season’s finalists and arch rivals Reading 6-8 in the day’s thrilling final match which saw East Grinstead score three goals in the final minute to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Added to their earlier 6-2 win over outdoor league leaders Beeston, it leaves East Grinstead in pole position heading into Sunday’s matches at Cocks Moor Woods Leisure Centre.

Reading were 4-2 ahead at half time and extended that to 5-2 early in the second half, but East Grinstead closed the gap to 6-4 before four unanswered goals in the final four minutes – including one in the dying seconds – sealed the win.

Captain Glenn Kirkham (pictured, left) led by example with a hat-trick, while for Reading Simon Mantell scored two to add to the two he had scored earlier in their 7-6 win over Canterbury.

Sevenoaks lay second in the table following a 5-2 win over Doncaster and a 6-6 draw with Bowdon, who are third on goal difference having beaten Holcombe 5-4.

Holcombe had got the day off to a cracking start when they drew 9-9 with Beeston, but neither side ended the day with a win.

Canterbury beat Loughborough Students 8-3 with Kwan Browne scoring four times and will consider themselves unlucky to lose 6-7 to Reading, a defeat which leaves them fourth in the early table.

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

Results from Saturday, December 14 2013:

Beeston 9, Holcombe 9; Bowdon 6, Sevenoaks 5; Doncaster 6, Loughborough Students 6; Canterbury 6, Reading 7; East Grinstead 6, Beeston 2; Holcombe 4, Bowdon 5; Sevenoaks 5, Doncaster 2; Loughborough Students 3, Canterbury 8; Reading 6, East Grinstead 8.

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