Beeston’s men and Reading’s women are England Hockey League champions for 2010-2011.Nottingham club Beeston overcame last year’s final heartache with a tight 2-1 win over reigning champions East Grinstead. Goalkeeper George Pinner was the Bees hero, saving a first-half penalty stroke, high to his stick side, from South African international Gareth Carr. Pinner pulled out an even more spectacular second-half PC save, again from Carr, again high to his right, when the Bees were 1-0 in front.
[img_assist|nid=1787|title=|desc=Beeston England Hockey League Champions 2010-11 (c) Andy Smith|link=node|align=right|width=320|height=226]
That lead came from an 18th minute corner tip-in by skipper Stephen Lawrence – a reward for sustained early pressure.
East Grinstead lacked their usual sharpness in front of goal until Carr finally broke through Pinner’s defences to equalise 10 minutes into the scecond half. Beeston’s winner came from 20-year-old Ben Arnold with a hard-hit shot from the top of the circle in the 58th minute. A tense finish ensued with Beeston well-aware they squandered a 4-1 lead in last years’ final only to lose on penalties.
In the women’s final Leicester had their second year of disappointment, again having finished first in the league, and again losing the final, this time to Reading, 3-2. Reading had a dream start when Jo Ellis roofed a shot in the fourth minute. Rebecca Herbert tided up a loose ball in the circle to level three minutes later. But goals from Kate Walsh (22m PC) and Emma Thomas (33m PC) left Reading in control 3-1 at the end of a rather frantic first half.
Leicester hit back as Anne Panter smashed in a chest-high ball five minutes into the second half. And Leicester then threw everything at a Reading side undefeated in the league since Christmas. But some resolute defence and England goalkeeper Beth Storry proved equal to the challenge.
In the men’s third vs fourth game, Reading grabbed the all-important third qualifying spot for Europe with a 3-1 win over Surbiton. Reading were in reasonable control of the match once GB and Scotland international Stephen Dick put them ahead in the 19th minute with a squeezed knee-high shot inside the left post from the top right of the circle. Two second-half PCs from Richard Mantell – trademark, carbon-copy low stick-side drag-flicks – finished off the game. Although a Matt Daly corner in the 67th minute added an extra edge to the dying minutes.
[img_assist|nid=1785|title=|desc=Reading England Hockey League Champions 2010-11 (c) Andy Smith|link=node|align=left|width=300|height=212]We’ll be posting video and images from Cannock when we get them.