Seventh heaven for East Grinstead at Wembley

Niall Stott against Kwan Browne in final 450

East Grinstead 6 (2)
Niall Stott, 4, 22 (PC, FG)
Andy Bull, 11 (PC)
Chris Griffiths, 24, 25, 27 (FG, FG, FG)

Canterbury 5 (1)
Harry Jawanda, 10, 25 (PC, FG)
Wei Adams, 29 (FG)
Tom Richford, 31 (FG)
Kwan Browne, 38 (PC)

A quick-fire hat-trick from Chris Griffiths helped East Grinstead to a seventh consecutive Hockey 5s title, but they were pushed all the way by a fighting display from Canterbury. In a repeat of last year's final, the crowd were left on the edge of their seats right up until the last moment of a pulsating encounter.

The first half was an even affair with an array of outstanding close skills on display from both sides. East Grinstead found themselves a player light early on as Glenn Kirkham was green carded for a foul on Liam Foster but despite the man advantage the scores remained level. Back up to a full side, the Sussex outfit took the lead through a Niall Stott penalty corner.

Harry Jawanda netted the equaliser from a well-worked penalty corner and then both Richard Potton and Diccon Stubbings in the respective goals excelled themselves with some superb saves. Kwan Browne threatened the East Grinstead goal with two incredible mazy runs but he found Potton a tough man  to beat in the Sussex side’s goal.

The reigning champions took the lead again with eleven minutes on the clock. Stott’s penalty corner hit a foot but umpire Lee Barron played an excellent advantage allowing Andy Bull to stab home. Both goalkeepers were further called upon before the half ran out and East Grinstead went in at the break 2-1 ahead.

East Grinstead came out firing on all cylinders after the interval, Stott doubled his tally before Chris Griffiths scored his first followed by an immediate reply from Harry Jawanda with his second of the game to make it 4-2.

With 14 minutes remaining Canterbury substituted off goalkeeper Stubbings and switched to a kicking back – an audacious move which seemed a rash decision when Griffiths scored twice to complete his hat-trick. At 6-2, Canterbury looked like they were out of it, needing a bit of magic to get back in the game. They got that magic with a flick from Wei Adams into the roof of the net from an acute angle, and with ten minutes to go Tom Richford made it 6-4.

A roller-coaster final ten minutes had the crowd on the edge of their seats, particularly after the outstanding Kwan Browne made it 6-5 with an arrow of a penalty corner which went in off the underside of the bar. East Grinstead held off the onslaught to seal victory and their seventh indoor title in succession.

Captain and tournament top goal scorer Stott was delighted with his team's victory. "We pride ourselves on indoor hockey. Seven is a milestone and we'll be back to try and make it eight next year. Its always a great atmosphere at Wembley, long may it continue!"

For all the facts, figures and stats from the competition, click here.

East Grinstead currently sit top of the NOW: Pensions Men's Hockey League and are in pole position to make the League Finals weekend in April. Click here to find out more and buy your tickets.