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Dominant Wimbledon Wins First Indoor Championship

Men’s Super-Sixes Finals Day Review

Wimbledon won the Super-Sixes title for the first time at the Copper Box Arena on Sunday as the Men’s finals defied the form book with both reigning champions Surbiton and second-placed Hampstead & Westminster being knocked out in the semi-finals by third-placed Wimbledon and fourth-placed East Grinstead respectively.

Wimbledon thrashed East Grinstead 11-1 in one of the most one-sided finals in competition history after the West Sussex club, who snatched the final qualifying place by winning their last two games in the Premier Division, shocked Surbiton by winning 2-1 in a shootout after an enthralling 5-5 draw in normal time.

Wimbledon’s win was even more meritorious as they were without leading goalscorer Ed Horler, due to injury, but still beat Hampstead 4-2 in their hard-fought semi-final.

There was no indication of the goal fest to come in the final when Ben Francis put Wimbledon ahead in the ninth minute, but three goals in two minutes put East Grinstead firmly on the back foot as Duncan Scott doubled the lead in the 15th minute before Liam Ansell converted from the penalty spot and Evan Kimber struck from open play in the 16th minute to give Wimbledon a solid 4-0 advantage at half time.

East Grinstead missed the opportunity to open their account when Wimbledon captain and goalkeeper James Bailey saved Kyle White’s penalty stroke at the end of the half.

East Grinstead held out after half time until the 27th minute when Francis grabbed his second goal of the match and the strike was to prove to be the start of a second half avalanche as Kimber netted a minute later before Wimbledon added another five goals in the fourth quarter.

Rhys Smith added Wimbledon’s seventh at the start of the fourth quarter with Duncan Scott making it eight in the 34th minute. Richard Lane scored what proved to be East Grinstead’s consolation in the 36th minute, only for Wimbledon to go up the other end and immediately respond through Peter Scott. Kimber and Francis completed their hat-tricks with goals in the 39th and 40th minutes, Francis slotting home Wimbledon’s third penalty stroke of the match after Richard Curtis had saved Liam Ansell’s effort a minute earlier.

Hampstead, who missed out on top spot after losing 7-6 to Surbiton in a Premier Division thriller, also missed out on reaching their first Super-Sixes final, having lost 7-5 to East Grinstead at the same stage in 2019. Defences were on top as Wimbledon led 1-0 at the interval thanks to Kimber’s eighth minute strike. Francis doubled Wimbledon’s advantage in the 23rd minute.

Teague Marcano, Hampstead’s leading goalscorer, briefly brought Hampstead back into the match in the 32nd minute, only for Liam Ansell to immediately restore Wimbledon’s two goal lead. James Sutcliffe set up a nerve-wracking finish as Hampstead trailed 3-2 with a minute to play, but Duncan Scott ended any hopes of a comeback in the last minute.

The big surprise of the day was East Grinstead’s elimination of Surbiton after they had lost 8-0 in the Premier Division when the teams last met. Surbiton were stunned as East Grinstead quickly avoided a second shutout with two goals in the first five minutes, Daniel Faulkner opening the scoring in the third minute and Sam Hatherley cementing the lead two minutes later.

Zach Wallace scored for Surbiton in the seventh minute, only for Ben Mackey to score East Grinstead’s third goal in the ninth minute as Surbiton trailed 3-1 going into the second quarter.

Surbiton seemed to have righted the ship when two trademark Gareth Furlong penalty corners in the 15th and 18th minutes brought the scores level at 3-3, but Ross Stott restored East Grinstead’s lead a minute before the break. Luke Taylor missed the opportunity to bring Surbiton level in added on time at the end for the first half from a penalty corner.

Jamie Golden, the Premier Division’s leading goalscorer, equalised in the 22nd minute and in a feisty fourth quarter which saw Surbiton’s James Gall and East Grinstead’s Daniel Faulkner given one minute rests after seeing green, gave Surbiton the lead for the first time in the 39th minute before receiving a green card of his own.

Niall Stott drove East Grinstead’s supporters crazy with one minute to play, making the score 5-5, but their supporters had a nervous moment with just 5.1 seconds on the clock as Golden narrowly missed completing his hat-trick as Curtis saved his penalty corner shot.

In the shootout, Surbiton went first and Curtis proved to be East Grinstead’s hero, saving from David Goodfield and making a match winning save from Golden immediately in front of East Grinstead’s delirious supporters. Simon Faulkner and White scored for East Grinstead and Curtis was unlucky as Wallace, in scoring for Surbiton, put away a rebound after another Curtis save.

(801 words)

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