Mixed fortunes for English sides in Europe

Abi Harper and Emily Maguire celebrate a goal for Reading

With the outdoor season now back in full swing it means the curtain has come down on the indoor campaigns for another year. With the domestic finals done and dusted at the end of January, attention turned to East Grinstead and Reading, England’s two representatives in the European Indoor competitions.

First up were East Grinstead who travelled to Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany to take their place in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Cup. Drawn in a tough pool with the hosts and eventual winners, HTC Uhlenhorst Mülheim, A C.H. SPV Complutense and HC Rotweiss Wettingen, the Sussex side started with defeats against Mülheim (11-4) and Wettingen (3-4) before picking up a vital win in their last pool game against Complutense thanks to goals from Simon Faulkner, Andy Bull, Chris Griffiths and David Condon. That win took them into the second pool stage with renewed confidence as they aimed to avoid relegation for next year’s European Indoor Competition.

A disciplined and clinical display from the Saint Hill outfit and a hat-trick from David Condon ensured Scott Ashdown’s side picked up an 8-3 win over Dinamo Stroitel Ekaterinburg, which meant their fate rested in their own hands in their final match against Royal HC Namur. The game turned out to be a spectacular display of end to end hockey, with England defender Andy Bull scoring a hat-trick in an exciting 6-6 draw. The result meant that East Grinstead maintained their place in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Cup for next season, where they will once again be England’s representatives.

Reading travelled to Siauliai, Lithuania to compete in the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Cup. Like East Grinstead, they faced a tough pool stage, lining up against UHC Hamburg (the eventual champions), ‘s-Hertogenbosch and MSC Sumchanka. The Sonning Lane side held a one-goal advantage in their first game against ‘s-Hertogenbosch thanks to a strike from Wiz Hunt right up until the second half when the Dutch side equalised, eventually going to on to win 4-1.

Their second game against MSC Sumchanka resulted in a 4-2 loss, despite goals from Emily Maguire and Emma Thomas and then the last pool game against Hamburg, four goals in the last three minutes put a slightly flattering gloss on the score as Emma Thomas’ side went down 8-1. The defeats meant they would play in the relegation pool in a bid to preserve their status for next year’s English representatives, Bowdon Hightown.

They started their survival bid well with a 6-1 win over Cambrai HC thanks to doubles from Emily Maguire, Elspeth Cockburn and further goals from Hunt and Ashlie Caddick. However in their final game their small squad and the absence of skipper Thomas through injury finally took its toll as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat. The loss came thanks to a last minute winner from Gintra Strekte Uni HC’s Samanta Jakoliovaite. Reading's fate was sealed and despite a brave effort, it means Bowdon Hightown will represent England in the competition below, next season.

All the results and scorers from East Grinstead’s European campaign can be found here. All the details of Reading’s efforts are here.