M1 Super 6s Defence Ended By East Grinstead
By Colin Pike
Surbiton's defence of their Super 6s title, won in 2020 at the expense of Holcombe, was ended in 2022 in dramatic fashion as East Grinstead, who snatched fourth place after winning their last two Premier Division games, defied the odds to reach the final by winning 2-1 in a shootout after a thrilling 5-5 draw in normal time at the Copper Box Arena.
History repeated itself as East Grinstead also ended Surbiton's defence in 2018 after Surbiton's maiden title in 2017 against the West Sussex club, as well as East Grinstead prevailing in a shootout in the 2019 final.
East Grinstead had lost 8-0 to Surbiton in the Premier Division qualifier, but were determined for a better showing in the semi-final as they aimed to maintain their record of appearing in every final since 2009, with the exception of the 2020 final when Surbiton beat Holcombe.
East Grinstead could not have asked for a better start as they took a third minute lead through Daniel Faulkner and doubled the lead in the fifth minute courtesy of Sam Hatherley.
Zach Wallace reduced the arrears in the seventh minute, only for Ben Mackey to convert a penalty corner two minutes later to restore East Grinstead's two goal advantage.
In the second quarter, Gareth Furlong struck twice from penalty corners in the 15th and 18th minute to level matters, but East Grinstead were not fazed, Ross Stott ensuring East Grinstead led 4-3 at the end of an enthralling first half, although they had to defend Luke Taylor's penalty corner in added on time at the end of the half.
Surbiton struggled to find their normal form, making several turnovers, but when Jamie Golden, the Premier Division's leading goalscorer made the score 4-4 in the 22nd minute and added a second goal with one minute remaining to put Surbiton ahead for the first time at 5-4, it seemed that in spite of James Gall receiving a green card along with Daniel Faulkner in the 38th minute, the reigning champions had done enough.
Yet again, East Grinstead did not give up and they had Niall Stott to thank for an immediate equaliser which set up a decisive shootout after a 5-5 draw, Golden having been shown a green card within seconds of scoring the apparent winning goal.
In another late twist, Golden returned to the pitch and from Surbiton's fifth penalty corner with just 5.1 seconds to play, was denied by East Grinstead's Richard Curtis in trying to net the winning goal.
Surbiton went first in the shootout, David Goodfield having his effort saved by Curtis. Simon Faulkner scored with East Grinstead's first attempt, Zach Wallace levelling the score at 1-1 with Surbiton's second attempt.
Kyle White was also successful with East Grinstead's second attempt, meaning Golden had to score with Surbiton's third to keep the semi-final alive. A superb save from Curtis delighted the East Grinstead supporters behind Curtis's goal, former Surbiton player, Dave Beckett coaching East Grinstead into the final against his former team.
Unfortunately for Beckett, third-placed Wimbledon, who also defied the form book by knocking out second placed Hampstead & Westminster 4-2 in the second semi, proved far too strong in the final, Wimbledon winning 11-1 to lift their first Super 6s title, also coached by a former Surbiton player and coach, Karl Stagno.
Surbiton Men will also be unable to take up their place in Europe next month after the European Indoor Club Trophy, scheduled to take place in Almere, Netherlands, was cancelled due to a directive issued by the Dutch health authorities.
More information about the Super 6s finals can be found at the England Hockey Altius website here