Hightown and EG lead the way to Wembley

Bowdon Hightown's Sally Walton scores from a penalty corner against Canterbury in the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Semi-Finals

The best indoor teams in England will go up against each other on Sunday 2 February to see who will be crowned Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Champions for 2014.

Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Finals, Wembley Arena

12.30 - Men's Semi Final 1 – East Grinstead v Holcombe
13.45 - Men's Semi Final 2 – Reading v Canterbury
15.15 - Women's Championship Final – Bowdon Hightown v Reading
16.45 - Men's Championship Final

For more information about the event, including ticket details, please click here.

Women’s Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Semi Finals, Kettering

In the women’s Premier Division undefeated Bowdon Hightown wrestled the top spot from Slough in the final day of league matches to book their place in the semi finals against fourth placed Canterbury. Reading took the other spot and lined up against Slough in the second v third battle.

The crowd at Kettering were treated to a feast of hockey from the four semi-finalists as the teams battled it out to book their place at Wembley. It was 5-5 at full time in the first game and Bowdon Hightown needed a penalty shoot-out to defeat Canterbury 2-1, meanwhile Reading had to rely on a goal from hat-trick hero Alex Danson in the last few seconds to beat Slough 4-3.

Afterwards, Reading captain Emma Thomas said: “Both semi finals were a great advert for the women’s game in England. Ours was a really tight game, but we’re absolutely thrilled to be going back to Wembley.”

She added: “We have to give great credit to Slough who put up a hell of a fight and showed what a good team they are. They also showed us a few things which we will need to work on before the final, but we were very determined and I’m really proud of the girls for getting over the line.”

And Fay Nash, Bowdon Hightown’s captain, said: “I’m absolutely beaming and I’m so proud of the girls, especially after what happened last year. After getting so close in the semi finals last year we felt we owed it to ourselves to get there this time out.”

She added, “We showed great belief and I can’t fault the commitment of every player on the pitch. Amy Tennant is a quality indoor player and a fantastic goalkeeper, we sometimes forget how young she is because of everything she’s achieved but we know, no matter what, we can rely on her to do the business. She did it in the 2011 final, and she did it again tonight.”

Men’s Maxinutrition Hockey 5s

East Grinstead topped the Premier Division and head to the semi-finals at Wembley as favourites, vying for a record-breaking sixth consecutive year at the top. They will face Holcombe in the first game of day, while Reading and Canterbury will battle it out in the second semi-final.

  1. East Grinstead
  2. Reading
  3. Canterbury
  4. Holcombe

The semi-finalists’ route to Wembley

Last year’s champions East Grinstead continued their fantastic indoor form into the 2013/14 season with eight wins from eight, scoring 59 goals along the way. EG’s formidable Czech Republic star Filip Neusser, is back between the posts for a second year and helped his side to concede the fewest goals across the four days of competition. At the other end of the pitch indoor expert Niall Stott led the way for his team with 13 goals in total.

Reading finished second in the league with seven wins and only one defeat, but the Berkshire side had some difficult battles along the way. Their one defeat came at the hands of arch rivals East Grinstead who scored four times in the closing minutes to win 8-6. They also had some emphatic victories with Simon Mantell in scintillating form during the first weekend scoring 14 goals. In the second weekend they twice reached double figures, firstly against Sevenoaks and then against fellow Wembley competitors Holcombe.

Canterbury booked their place in the semi-finals by finishing third. The Kent side topped the table for goal-scorers with a total of 68; Ben Allberry and Hardeep Jawanda adding 16 and 15 respectively to the overall total. Their four victories in the competition came against Loughborough Students, Doncaster, Bowdon and Beeston and a further 5-5 draw against Holcombe earned them the 13 points they needed to book a place at Wembley.

With Beeston, Sevenoaks, Bowdon and Holcombe all gunning for the final play-off spot, it was Holcombe who finally clinched it on goal difference from Sevenoaks. After a final day defeat to Reading it looked like they may miss out, but they picked themselves up to beat Doncaster 5-4 in their final game with captain Richard Lane leading from the front scoring a hat-trick.

Want to catch the action live at Wembley Arena? You can still buy tickets and hospitality for the Maxinutrition Hockey 5s Championship Finals on Sunday 2 February, now only a few short weeks away!