super sixes Finals 2011

Bowdon Hightown's women and East Grinstead's men overcame some top quality opposition to win the 2011 super sixes National Indoor Hockey Finals titles in front of an amazing crowd of nearly 5000 people at Wembley Arena.

Bowdon Hightown's dramatic 9-8 penalty strokes victory over Reading in the women's super sixes Final came on the back of a 5-5 draw and sealed a tenth title for the club formerly known solely as Hightown.  Not even four Final goals from Reading's England and Great Britain forward Alex Danson could stop the 2009 champions from winning the 2011 title.  The Cheshire club fought back from 3-2 down at the break to tie the match at 5-5 and force it to penalty strokes.  Such was the parity between the two that it took 22 penalty strokes for there to be a winner; Bowdon Hightown's teenage goalkeeper Amy Tennant was her side's eventual heroine, saving Emma Thomas' penalty stroke low to her left to spark exuberant scenes of celerbation.

For West Sussex side East Grinstead, their 8-5 win over Nottinghamshire's Beeston sealed a third successive national indoor title as David de Prez led from the front with a hat-trick in the final follow on from four in the semi final victory over Old Loughtonians.  Beeston refused to lie down though and kept things interesting right up until the final minute, when they removed their Maxifuel Man of the Match goalkeeper George Pinner for a sixth outfield player.  The move failed to pay off though and the West Sussex side took the men's super sixes title thanks to goals from De Prez, England & Captain Barry Middleton, his GB colleague, Scotland's Niall Stott and former England and GB star Mark Pearn.  Beeston's goals came from Tim Davenport, England and GB international Adam Dixon, James McBlane and Stephen Wood.

All the match reports can be found below and more photos will be uploaded to the website over the coming days so check back to see if your favourite player, moment or other part of the event has made the highlights reel.

Quicklinks - click on 'report' to jump straight to the match report of your choice.

Men's Semi Final One: East Grinstead v Old Loughtonians report
Men's Semi Final Two: Reading v Beeston report
Women's Final: Bowdon Hightown v Reading report
Men's Final: East Grinstead v Beeston report

Match reports written by James Stock.

Men's Semi Final One

East Grinstead 8 (4) - 3 (1) Old Loughtonians
David de Prez 4,13,21,37 (F,F,F,F) Oliver Didham 3,34 (F,F)
Barry Middleton 7,30 (F,F) Alistair Bray 28 (F)
Niall Stott 15 (PC)
Mats Grambusch 29 (F)

Pre-tournament favourites East Grinstead opened the super sixes Finals at Wembley Arena with a dominant 8-3 victory over Old Loughtonians, including four goals from David De Prez.

East Grinstead supporters in the crowd at the super sixes FinalsThe action started amidst a spectacular opening sequence, introducing the players to the expectant crowd. Early pressure from both teams led to an early stalemate, before Old Loughtonians took the lead in the third minute through Oliver Didham with a slick passing move. The defending champions East Grinstead responded immediately with De Prez’s first in a counter attack to level the scores.

A string of good saves from Stuart Hendy kept Old Loughtonians in the game, including a flick save from Michael Holland. A series of deflected passes led to England and Great Britain captain Barry Middleton’s opening goal, handing East Grinstead the lead for the first time. A beautifully weighted ball by Mark Pearn to Darren Cheesman let De Prez slot into an open goal for his second and a 3-1 lead for the West Sussex side. A 14th minute penalty corner drag flick from Scotland and Great Britain defender Niall Stott gave East Grinstead a 4-1 lead at the break.

Mats Grambusch holds off a challenge Scott Sandison during East Grinstead's super sixes Finals against Old Loughtonians at Wembley ArenaThe second half began as the first finished, and it wasn’t long before De Prez completed his hat-trick, slotting the ball into an open goal. Some excellent defending and keeping kept the score steady until the twenty-eighth minute, when Old Loughtonians pegged one back. An East Grinstead defensive error led to two players bearing down on the goalkeeper and Alistair Bray finished the move to reduce the deficit. East Grinstead responded with their sixth and seventh in quick succession; German Mats Grambusch (pictured) and Middleton taking the game beyond Old Loughtonians as East Grinstead stretched their muscles.

A Didham goal in the 34th minute was a late consolation for Old Loughts, before De Prez bagged his fourth to make it 8-3 with three minutes remaining, capping off a largely dominant East Grinstead performance; the super sixes Premier Division champions more than living up to their reputation as pre-tournament favourites.

East Grinstead advance to this afternoon’s final, where they will face the winners of the Reading v Beeston semi-final.

Men's Semi Final Two

Reading 3 (0) - 3* (0) Beeston
Rhys Joyce 28 (F) *Beeston win 2-1 APS Tim Davenport 23 (PC)
Richard Mantell 31 (PC) Adam Dixon 28,37 (F,F)
Iain Mackay 40 (F)
Penalty Strokes
Simon Mantell - goal 1 1 James McBlane - goal
Richard Mantell - no goal 0 0 Richard Lane - no goal
Jonty Clarke - no goal 0 1 Chris Gregg - goal

Beeston joined East Grinstead in the super sixes Final after a tense semi-final which was only decided on penalty flicks after a 3-3 stalemate in normal time.

Unusually for an indoor game, the first half was goalless. George Pinner in the Beeston goal pulled off a string of excellent saves to keep his side in the game, and the first half highlights were a couple of Beeston penalty corners, one of which was saved onto the post. A disallowed Reading goal for lifting the ball when not shooting initially had Pinner in a furious temper before the decision was overturned.

Early in the second half, Beeston broke the deadlock with a Tim Davenport penalty corner into the goalkeeper’s bottom corner. In spite of this, the game continued at a lively tempo but with no clear cut opportunities for a further five minutes. Pinner again displayed his passion on a few occasions, but for the most part was having an exceptional game. In the 28th minute, Reading equalised after three players broke on two Beeston defenders.  A slick passing move culminated in skipper Rhys Joyce slotting the ball around Pinner and over the line for 1-1.

No sooner than they had equalised, Reading were behind again. Beeston capitalised on a Reading defensive error, creating a three on one situation, with England and Great Britain international Adam Dixon eventually slotting into an open goal.

Iain Mackay celebrates scoring in the final minute of REading's super sixes semi final against Beeston at Wembley ArenaThe goals sparked the game into life with chances coming at both ends. Reading equalised in the 31st minute through a Richard Mantell penalty corner, the experienced international converting the chance after the ball was slipped to the left. And on 35 minutes the Berkshire side might have taken the lead when Joyce played the ball through Pinner’s legs but it ran wide of the post.

With just three minutes remaining, Beeston seemed to have the game won with a controversial goal. England and Great Britain goalkeeper Nick Brothers made the original save after Beeston had broken, and as Reading looked to play it out the back line, Dixon snatched on the opportunity and put it in the back of the net. Reading claimed it was illegal, but the decision was upheld as a time out was called.

With their super sixes fate resting on the final seconds of the game, Reading replaced goalkeeper Brothers to give themselves another outfielder on the pitch but as the clock ticked down it looked to have failed. However, with just seven seconds remaining Richard Mantell speared a long ball from back to front, where it was deflected in the circle and under Pinner’s body by Iain Mackay to salvage a last minute equaliser for Reading.

With the score at 3-3, penalty strokes were called upon to decide the contest. After Beeston’s James McBlane and Reading’s Simon Mantell had converted the opening flicks, Richard Lane and Richard Mantell both missed. In the deciding third round, Chris Gregg converted for Beeston, before Jonty Clarke put his flick onto the bar resulting in exuberant celebrations from Beeston, 2-1 winners on penalty strokes.

George Pinner celebrates after Beeston win the penalty shoot in the super sixes semi final against Reading at Wembley Arena

Women's Final

Bowdon Hightown 5* (2) - 5 (3) Reading
Sally Walton 3,23 (PC,PC) *Bowdon Hightown win 9-8 APS Alex Danson 5,9,11,34 (F,F,F,PC)
Nicky O'Donnell 10 (F) Sam Quek 33 (F)
Fay Nash 30 (F)
Tina Cullen 35 (F)
Penalty Strokes
Tina Cullen - no goal 0 1 Emma Thomas - goal
Michelle Liptrot - goal 1 1 Sam Quek - goal
Sally Walton - goal 1 0 Alex Danson - no goal
Sally Walton - no goal 0 0 Emma Thomas - no goal
Michelle Liptrot - goal 1 1 Sam Quek - goal
Tina Cullen - goal 1 1 Alex Danson - goal
Michelle Liptrot - goal 1 1 Sam Quek - goal
Sally Walton - goal 1 1 Emma Thomas - goal
Tina Cullen - goal 1 1 Alex Danson - goal
Michelle Liptrot - goal 1 1 Sam Quek - goal
Sally Walton - goal 1 0 Emma Thomas - no goal

Bowdon Hightown captain Nicky O'Donnell presents the women's super sixes National Indoor Hockey Finals trophy at Wembley ArenaA tightly fought super sixes women’s final between Bowdon Hightown and Reading completed the women’s indoor season at Wembley Arena on Sunday. After a nail-biting, action packed 40 minutes it took 22 penalty strokes to separate the sides with Bowdon Hightown winning the national indoor title for the second time in three years; 9-8 on penalty strokes following a 5-5 draw.
As the two sides looked to suss the other out both sides were on the scoreboard inside the opening five minutes. Cheshire side Bowdon Hightown struck first in the third minute, England and Great Britain international Sally Walton converting a drag flick from a penalty corner. Two minutes later, another England and GB star, Alex Danson, scored her first of four with a neat finish after good team work in the build-up.

The game continued to ebb and flow and in the ninth minute Danson converted a second. Immediately afterwards the 2009 champions replied with skipper Nicky O’Donnell scoring with a drag flick from the top of the circle to level the scores again at 2-2. To complete a flurry of five goals in the opening 11 minutes, Danson sealed her first half hat-trick with a fine individual effort, lobbing the goalkeeper with a reverse stick shot after running past the defence.

After the lightning start, things settled slightly with Reading going in at the break 3-2 up, allowing the teams and near capacity crowd to draw breath.

Bowdon equalised early in the second half, Walton scoring a carbon copy of her first from another penalty corner to level the score at 3-3.

It was in the 29th minute when Reading’s Becky Halle was yellow carded for a tackle whilst trying to track back that Bowdon Hightown took advantage to add yet another twist to proceedings.  Taking advantage of the numerical disparity, Fay Nash converted a cross to give her side a 4-3 lead.  But, as soon as Reading were restored to their full compliment they equalised, this time through England and Great Britain’s Sam Quek. And a minute later, they took the lead again, when Danson scored her fourth with a drag flick from a penalty corner.

With six minutes remaining there was still time for things to change yet again and the experienced Bowdon Hightown forward Tina Cullen did just that, firing home from a ball crossed from the right.  The result, a 5-5 scoreline and a penalty strokes competition to decide the 2011 super sixes Champions.

Bowdon Hightown celebrate winning the 2011 super sixes Finals at Wembley ArenaAfter three penalties the score was 2-2 with Danson and Cullen failing to hit the back of the goal. With that the match moved into sudden death but a quick death it was not and it took a further eight penalties on either side to separate the sides.  Heartbreakingly for Reading captain Emma Thomas, her effort – the 22nd penalty in all - was saved by the young Bowdon Hightown goalkeeper Amy Tennant low to her left.  The Cheshire club’s heroine was all but smothered as her excited teammates raced to congratulate her and begin the celebrations in honour a tenth national indoor title.

Bowdon Hightown's England and Great Britain international was awarded the Grange Hotels Player of the Match for her performance in the final.  Afterwards, she said: “We’ve been in that position many times and haven’t always come out on top. But the girls were quietly confident. It’s a horrible way to lose but we will take the win however it happens.  Both teams gave 100% all the way.”

Reading's Emma Thomas, who saw her final flick saved, said of the penalty strokes: “It gets tough after a while; you think you have to change something up."

Speaking about her team, who were promoted to the super sixes Women's Premier Division and qualified for the super sixes Finals in their first top flight season, she added: "It’s a sign of how far the team has come; every cloud has a silver lining!”

Thomas' Reading teammate Abi Walker summed up her feelings, saying: “It’s a harsh way to end the game. I thought we gave a good account of ourselves. We were up, they were up at different times and it was a good test”

Bowdon Hightown will now represent England in Europe in 2012.

Men's Final

East Grinstead 8 (5) - 5 (3) Beeston
David De Prez 1,5,13 (F,F,F) Tim Davenport 3 (PC)
Barry Middleton 9,17 (F,F) Adam Dixon 8,16 (F,F)
Niall Stott 30,39 (PC,F) James McBlane 27 (F)
Mark Pearn 38 (PC) Stephen Wood 37 (PC)

East Grinstead were crowned national indoor champions as they won the super sixes Finals for the third year in a row, defeating Beeston 8-5. The West Sussex team were never dominant, but crucially never lost control of the match.

David de Prez pictured with the 2011 men's super sixes Cup after winning with East Grinstead at Wembley ArenaWith a near capacity crowd of just under 5000 roaring the teams on, the men’s final came to life instantly with East Grinstead taking a 1-0 lead within seconds of the start. After scoring four in their earlier semi-final, David De Prez added a fifth to his tally for the day. A break down the left hand side resulted in a cross to the unmarked De Prez (pictured), who made no mistake in slotting it past eventual Maxifuel Man of the Match George Pinner in the Beeston goal.

The Bees reacted almost immediately, with Tim Davenport converting a penalty corner from the top of the circle to equalise. Almost as quickly as Beeston had got themselves back into the game, they were left cursing as East Grinstead re-took the lead through De Prez, who took advantage of confusion in the Beeston defence and calmly slotted it past Pinner.

The frantic pace of the opening few minutes showed no signs of letting up at all as Beeston equalised for the second time in just the eighth minute. Some excellent build-up play left England and Great Britain international Adam Dixon with a relatively simple conversion.

The East Grinstead men were not to be denied and found themselves ahead within a minute. Darren Cheesman, another international star, broke down the right and pulled it back for his England and Great Britain captain Barry Middleton to lob into the net and restore the lead. After 13 minutes, East Grinstead managed to stretch out a two goal gap for the first time in the match when De Prez completed his second hat-trick of the day. It was a familiar story as the defending champions broke down the Beeston defence and De Prez had the calmness of mind to put the ball into the back of the goal for 4-2.

Almost predictably, Beeston fought their way back into the match three minutes later. A scramble involving Richard Potton, the East Grinstead goalkeeper, his defence and some Beeston attackers on the left hand side of the circle resulted in the ball breaking to Dixon, who made no mistake in flicking the ball home. East Grinstead managed to maintain the pattern of the first half by adding a fifth just before the end of the first half. Barry Middleton was the beneficiary of the East Grinstead attacking prowess, and pushed the ball beyond the advancing Pinner.

Despite East Grinstead’s two goal half time cushion nothing was guaranteed and with both sides looking capable of scoring further goals there was still plenty to play for in the second half.

In comparison to the frantic nature of the first half, the second half began almost slowly. Pinner continued to make a nuisance of himself to the East Grinstead attack, pulling off a string of excellent saves to keep the score as close as it was. Seven minutes into the second half Beeston pulled one back, but not without controversy. With East Grinstead’s Adam Harper injured in the circle during the build-up, play continued and James McBlane added to the Beeston tally. The goal stood despite the East Grinstead protests.

East Grinstead's Niall Stott celebrates after scoring a goal in the 2011 men's super sixes Final at Wembley ArenaWith ten minutes remaining, ‘Grinstead again stretched their lead, Scotland and Great Britain international Niall Stott (pictured) with a drag flick from the top of the circle.

Beeston gave themselves a flicker of hope towards the end of the match when they pulled to within one goal of EG at 6-5. Stephen Wood injected the penalty corner to the top of the circle before receiving it back and slotting into the largely open goal.

After hitting the bar on another counter-attack, East Grinstead restored their two goal cushion once more with an almost carbon copy of Beeston’s fifth. This time, Mark Pearn was the injector who received it back and finished off the well executed set piece. In a desperate attempt to get back into the game in the final minute, Beeston withdrew their goalkeeper Pinner and played with six outfielders. Instead of benefitting from the extra man on pitch, Beeston lost the ball almost straight away and Stott rounded the defence before passing the ball into the empty goal to make it 8-5.

With East Grinstead pulling into a three goal lead Beeston were consigned to the runners-up spot. Winning captain Scott Ashdown rounded off proceedings saying: “It’s an awesome feeling [to win the super sixes Finals]; I’m just so pleased for the group that we didn’t let ourselves down. We played well and it’s a great result. Three times on the trot, we wanted to make that history for ourselves”. Speaking of the excellent support East Grinstead received on the day, he commented: “it’s so good to know you’ve got such good support from the fans”.

East Grinstead’s on-loan England and Great Britain captain Barry Middleton added: “We had a strong squad, a lot of depth and experience with some of these guys having played over a hundred internationals. We had a lot of creativity in the group and I think that’s been a big benefit to us.”

Beeston goalkeeper George Pinner, who will be one of the 12 English players that travel to Poznan in Poland for the FIH Indoor World Cup (8-13 February) was named Maxifuel Man of the Match following his performance in the final.

East Grinstead celebrate winning the 2011 men's super sixes final at Wembley Arena