East Grinstead 8 Beeston 5 (men)
Bowdon Hightown 5 Reading 5 (Bowdon Hightown win 9 – 8 on penalties) (women)
East Grinstead 8 Old Loughtonians 3
Beeston 3 Reading 3 (Beeston win 2-1 on penalties)
England’s indoor season finished with a blockbuster Sunday afternoon at the Wembley Arena. East Grinstead retained their men’s national indoor title with a controlled 8-5 win over Beeston, the only side that had beaten them in the indoor league this season. In the women’s final Bowdon Hightown edged out an international-studded Reading side in the second penalty shootout of the afternoon.
The women’s tile was decided when Bowdon Hightown keeper Amy Tennant producing an amazing low stick save on her left post to deny a stroke from Reading captain Emma Thomas. Tina Cullen had forced the shoot-out with a 35th minute goal for Bowdon to tie the match at 5-5. Alex Danson showed some electric finishing skills for Reading but her four stunning goals and another excellent finish from Sam Quek were not enough to bring the championship to Sonning Lane.
East Grinstead’s third national championship in a row came with the help of a hat-trick from indoor goal-shark par excellence Dave De Prez. Beeston threatened to edge themselves back into the final at times, but the Sussex club always seemed to have the extra gear when needed. England’s as yet uncapped indoor skipper Barry Middleton was always ready to chip in with some deft attacking play at crucial times.
The first penalty barrage of the day came in the Beeston-Reading semi final which finished three apiece in normal time. Bees’ England indoor keeper George Pinner was another of the England World Cup squad showing fine form at Wembley ahead of February’s indoor world cup. Pinner produced a match-winning semi-final effort backing up a fine all-round performance by producing a right-post save from a Richard Mantell stroke in the shootout. Chris Gregg then held his nerve to net for Beeston before the shootout, and Reading’s final hopes, ended when Jonty Clarke hit the bar.
The shotout came after Reading produced one of the high-spots of the day, equalising with one second on the clock when Iain Mackay deflected home a long pass out of defence from Richard Mantell.
In their semi-final East Grinstead defeated Old Loughtonians 8-3 with four from the ever-present De Prez.