Reading and Hightown will take the élite places in Europe next season after victories in the Premiership finals at Old Loughtonians Chigwell ground yesterday, although both sides were taken to the wire. Hightown beat Chelmsford 4-3 in the last seconds of extra-time and Reading eventually got the better of Cannock, 5-4, in a penalty shoot out, after extra-time had finished 1-1.
Reading dominated the opening 10 minutes with Jonty Clarke their biggest danger. But it was Cannock who scored first when a quick break by Barry Middleton won a penalty corner in the Staffordshire side's first foray into the Reading half. Although Simon Mason saved Simon Ramsden's initial shot Middleton was on hand to score from the rebound.
Reading pressed again, but it was not until 10 minutes into the second half that Andy Todd netted the equaliser. Chances went begging at both ends as the game moved into extra-time with Cannock handicapped by the temporary suspension of Ben Sharpe. But as penalties loomed, Rob Toddconverted the winner in a goalmouth scramble.
Hightown, although taking an early three-minute lead through Nat Hannah, left it late to score a last minute equaliser to force extra-time. Chelmsford had dominated for long periods and scored twice from 16 penalty corners. But they were made to pay for their wastefulness when Hannah scored her second right on time, and then Aimee Clark slipped in for the winner with just 20 seconds of extra-time remaining.
Earlier in the day there was double disappointment for Kingston Grammar School when they were beaten 3-2 by Portsmouth Grammar School in the Under-14 Schools final, and 4-1 in the Under-16s final by Langley Park Comprehensive School.