So close to a Double…By Reading Hockey Club • Apr 18th, 2012 • Category: Events, Home Page, Match, News
Reading men became England Hockey National Champions on Sunday beating East Grinstead 5-4 in a thrilling final, whilst the ladies came incredibly close to making it a superb and historic double when they just missed out on the Investec Championship in a penalty shoot out with Leicester.
In a repeat of last year’s final Reading Ladies who finished on top of the Investec premier league played their rivals second placed Leicester with no less than 13 current GB squad players on the pitch between the two sides. In a tight game, Reading had the better of possession and chances, but could not find a way through the Leceister defences to capitalise on their superiority in normal time.
Indeed it was Leicester who grabbed the lead when Lucy Brown found a way through from a short corner after 59 minutes, only to see Reading pull the goal back with Amanda Poteiger scoring the equaliser just 4 minutes later.
With the teams tied at full time, no further goals were scored in the 2 periods of silver goal extra time, and the match was to be decided on a European style penalty shoot out. Each team missed one in their opening bank of 3 attempts, but in the first round of sudden death penalties Reading missed and Leicester scored to take the game and the title by the slimmest of margins.
With the Sonning Lane crowd still buzzing, it was then the turn of the men’s final with Reading facing East Grinstead for the England Hockey Championship title. In front of their home crowd, and with a point to prove after a couple of recent defeats to their opponents, Reading started the brighter and took the lead through Nick Catlin after 9 minutes.
The game was played at a high tempo, with both sides showing the best of English club hockey – not surprising with such a large number of the Olympic squad on show! Mark Pearn brought East Grinstead level after 29 minutes and the scores stayed level until half time.
It was the visitors that took the initiative immediately after the break, and David De Prez grabbed two quick goals to put them 3-1 ahead – but Reading dug deep into their reserves and came back strong – taking the game to East Grinstead and pulling on level terms again with goals from Chris Newman after 49 minutes and Richard Springham after 61 minutes. The game continued to be end to end, and within 4 minutes the scores were level again at 4-4 with East Grinstead briefly regaining the lead through Darren Cheeseman, only for Reading’s pressure to force an own goal off Ashley Jackson’s stick moments later.
In the final 5 minutes Reading piled on the pressure looking for a winner, bringing a couple of superb saves from East Grinstead keeper Richard Potton, and were finally rewarded with a penalty corner as the time ran out. Richard Mantell’s initial shot was parried well by Potton, but Andy Watts was on hand to slot home the rebound and give Reading the title 5-4 with the last hit of the game.
The win rounded out a great club day at Reading, hosting the Investec weekend on behalf of England hockey – a huge thank you for all those that helped to make it a success and congratulations to both of our teams of their superb performances on the day and throughout the season.
Click here for pictures of the day courtesy of our good friend Ian Wood…