Five Alive for England's Slough

Slough finished fifth at the EuroHockey Indoor Champions Cup in Madrid at the weekend, to ensure next year’s English representatives Bowdon Hightown will be playing in Europe’s top indoor division again.

The Berkshire club always faced a tough test to progress from a Pool that contained the tournament favourites, German champions Der Club an der Alster, as well as Dinamo Sumchanka of Ukraine and the Russian side Vympel Korolev.

Things did not begin well for Slough who lost their opening match 9-2 to the Ukrainians; Steffi Cordier scoring both of Slough’s goals.  It was a clear signal of intent from Dinamo Sumchanka who were following Der Club an der Alster’s example after the Germans had beaten Vympel Korolev 9-4 in the opening match.

Slough’s second match on Friday saw them face the German side and things looked promising at the break with Slough behind by just the odd goal in five.  Ashleigh Ball equalised Silja Lornezen’s first minute opener after five minutes and despite going two behind to goals from Katharina Scholz and Anneke Bohmert with 15 minutes on the clock Jane Smith pulled one back shortly before the break to make it 3-2.  In the second half the Germans’ class shone through as they extended their lead through Bohmert’s second and third, sandwiching Rebecca Landshut’s goal to make the final score 6-2.

After two defeats each on the opening day the match between Slough and Vympel Korolev on Saturday morning provided both teams the opportunity to kick-start their campaign.

As it was Slough seized the initiative with three goals inside the opening nine minutes of the game.  First, Jane Smith netted with just three minutes on the clock before two goals from Fiona Greenham in the seventh and ninth minutes rocked the Russians who seemed to have no response.  With no further goals in the second half Slough took all three points to secure third place in the Pool, behind second place Dinamo Sumchanka and Pool winners Der Club an der Alster.

In the crossover matches Slough faced Austrian side HC Wels who had finished bottom of Pool B having lost all three of their opening matches.  A tight first half saw Slough take a two goal lead through Jane Smith’s penalty corner double before being pegged back to 2-2 at half time.   A tight second half saw the match locked at two all and just as it looked like a draw would be the outcome Smith popped up to complete her hat-trick with a field goal to make it 3-2.

Slough’s final match was against HC Ritm Grodno of Belarus and once again Jane Smith led the way for the English side with four goals, three of which came from penalty corners.  Leading 3-1 at the break Smith’s fourth and one from Fiona Greenham put the result beyond doubt with more than ten minutes remaining although the Belarussians did score twice in the last five to narrow the gap.  Final score 5-3.

Afterwards, Captain Lynnette Smith declared her happiness with fifth place: “I think we can be pleased with our final position.  After our first two results that was the highest achievable finish and in fact we only lost to the two finalists.”

Those finalists, Der Club an der Alster and Dinamo Sumchanka, played out a thrilling final with the Club an der Alster reaffirming Germany’s dominance of the indoor game with a 7-5 victory over the impressive Ukranians.

Final Ranking:
1. Der Club an der Alster (GER) (Champions)
2. Dinamo Sumchanka (UKR)
3. Larensche MHC (NED)
4. Club de Campo de Madrid (ESP)
5. Slough LHC (ENG)
6. HC Ritm Grodno (BLR)
7. HC Wels (AUT) relegated to Trophy for 2010
8. Vympel Korolev (RUS) relegated to Trophy for 2010