In appalling weather Hightown beat First Personnel Sutton Coldfield 2-1 in a thrilling encounter to head their pool on the narrowest of goal difference ahead of Bayer Leverkusen while Hounslow, 3-0 winners against Atletic Terrassa, moved majestically forward to their third final in four years.
Hightown were off to a good start with Chris Cook overlapping to exchange passes with Tina Cullen for Cullen to open the scoring in the 12th minute. Hightown, having weathered sustained pressure following the temporary suspension of Jackie Crook after an innocent looking clash with Jane Sixsmith, conceded the equaliser to Sixsmith as they returned to full strength in the 28th minute.
Two minutes later Hightown were in the lead as Cullen laid the ball off to player-coach Maggie Souyave to stroke the ball past a hesitant Karen Clark for the winner which ensured that they will go at least one better than in the European Indoor finals where the Liverpool club took bronze.
In a second half which swung from end to end Hightown's well-organised and disciplined defence held firm to achieve a splendid team victory.
Hounslow's victory was built on sound defensive play from international full-backs, England's Paul Bolland and the New Zealander, Scott Hobson, and another dominant display in the midfield from Jon Potter.
Jon Rees gave the London club the lead in the 14th minute, following up to rob the goalkeeper after Dave Hacker's shot from Rob Thompson's cross had been blocked. There then followed a period of dominance by the Belgian club before, in the 26th minute, Hacker put Hounslow further ahead at a penalty corner. With a 2-0 cushion at the interval Hounslow interchanged their players in the second half with Rob Crutchley scoring their third 23 minutes into the half.Reuse content