Sharpe's strike puts Cannock in final

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The Independent Online

Ben Sharpe, with a 68th-minute goal, ensured that the defending champions, Cannock, had a place in this year's championship play-offs final when they beat Canterbury 1-0 at Polo Farm yesterday.

Sharpe, who had been a constant thorn in Canterbury's side, had always looked the most likely to settle the issue but it was the skills and persistence of the 19-year-old Martin Jones who set up the winner.

In an entertaining but bruising first half, Canterbury were on top, but with their forwards out of form, the teams went into the interval goalless. The cliff-hanger continued in the second half with Cannock now on the ascendancy. Only a string of fine saves from Simon Triggs kept the Kent club in the game until Sharpe finally got the ball past him at close range.

A late penalty-corner goal by Reading's Jon Wyatt forced extra time in his side's 2-2 draw with Guildford in the second game, only to lose the shoot-out 5-4. Guildford now play Canterbury next Sunday with the winner facing Cannock on 1 May at the National Stadium.

In the women's play-offs, Hightown needed a penalty-stroke barrage to beat Ipswich. Carolyn Reid saved twice to see them through 4-2 on strokes. In the other game, Fyffes Leicester beat Canterbury 2-0, after goals from Justine Williams and Sarah Blanks.

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