On Sunday January 28th, EGHC Men's Indoor Squad regained the Super 6s Indoor title and earned a place back in European hockey for February 2019. Read on...
EGHC Men's Indoor squad has been in or around the top spot in the England Indoor Hockey 6s since the 2004 / 2005 season. In those 14 seasons, EG has worked hard and secured the title on 11 occasions with two previous successes in 92/93 and in the season which started it all off - 86/87. Those successes have benefited from contributions by numerous talented and committed team, management and coaching staff.
The 2016/2017 season was a challenge for the squad; losing their title but only a couple of weeks later delivering an excellent performance in Europe and narrowly missing out on their first "A Division" medal. Frustrated at losing the national title and therefore their chance to go again for a European medal in February 2018, the squad focused ahead of this season's indoor competition with the ambition to regain the National title and return to Europe in February 2019.
The league season, comprised of two weekends played in the midlands, and 8 league matches, can be unforgiving; with so few games to pick up points its important to improve game by game, and that they did. A fabulous performance in the second weekend of the competition, winning all four matches, saw the side climb and finish second in the table, earning a semi-final match against the team that had defeated them in the previous year's final.
Sunday January 28th began for the men's squad, knowing our Ladies had been knocked out in their semi-final, and facing a tough challenge of their own. EG, playing without influential internationals throughout the season - Chris Griffiths, David Condon and Liam Ansell - had developed well as a group and taken the opportunity to bring young Matt Blood into the squad as well as the returning Josh Coniglio.
The semi-final was a tough game, with Surbiton defending their circle throughout very tightly, fighting to prevent EG from finding any space to attack, while looking for their own opportunities to counter. Although EG won the encounter 3:1 in the end, Surbiton narrowly missed the post two or three times, and, like EG managed to hit the cross-bar at least once from a fierce corner.
Playing in the second semi-final of the day meant that EG had a much shorter rest period than in previous seasons and soon returned to the county to play Team Bath who had secured a very impressive victory against Wimbledon in their own semi-final.
Bath were strengthened by former Reading and Ireland star, John Jackson (no relation to Ashley or Wesley), meaning that at times there were three Jacksons on the court at once. As it turned out, all three scored, John Jackson with a stunning goal from the right hand-side, Wesley with an excellent finish and Ashley with the goal that would eventually prove to be the winner; a trade-mark short corner which shows he's returning to top form.
Ben Alberry scored EG's openning goal relatively early one, from a move originated by Ashley Jackson and turned towards Ben but Wesley. Stunning stuff.
The goal of the day though was not provided by Bath's John Jackson, but instead by EG's own Josh Coniglio who after running back to break down a Bath attack, found himself in a position to beat a player using the boards and then shoot on collecting his rebound. His prize for goal of the day, a mini hockey goal which he will surely treasure.
The squad throughout represented EG fantastically well and started 2018 with a bang. Fantastic achievements were throughout:
- Patrick Smith in goal, played just days after pushing through serious illness and put in a stellar display
- Matt Blood put in an assured performance at the back in spells and looks to be a future regular
- Ashley Jackson marked his return to the group with a "player of the tournament" award to add to his collection
- Ross Stott, after suffering a knee injury in the semi, returned to play a key role in the final
- Wesley Jackson enjoyed one of his best Indoor performances with a crucial goal and crucial assist
- Dom Bowden linked play superbly as he returned to fitness
- Tijn van Groesen stole the ball from opposition defenders several times and almost scored an audacious goal himself
- Ben Alberry proved to be a thorn in the side of the opposition, and was rewarded with the opening goal of the final
- Josh Coniglio repeated memories of the 2016 final with another stunning solo goal as well as a solid team performance
- Ollie Thilo, although not getting onto the pitch this time round, gained valuable experience for the future
- Daniel Faulkner blended immense work ethic with brave defence and almost scored a reverse stick wonder goal
- Simon Faulkner led, as always by example. A crucial semi final goal and several earlier in qualifying
- Prashant Meshram mended Ross on the day performed many other medical marvels to help the deal deliver
- Luke Leman provided the video analysis to enable the coaching team to develop the right tactics
- Mikey Holland stepped into the asst Manager role with aplomb to keep the bench running smoothly
- Richard Payne enjoyed success in his first season as coach; another home grown talent driving the club forwards
- James Leman Managed the campaign to perfection
- Richard Organ again played a pivotal role in supporting the group through twists and turns of the league and the matches