Hockey: Axworthy hits a telling stroke

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The Independent Online
THE THREE days of the Youth and School Divisional Tournament on the two artificial pitches at Birmingham University ended in triumph for the South-East Under-18 and Under-16 teams who won their respective sections.

With a number of the players appearing regularly in national league sides the standard of play was high and extremely competitive. The Under-18 match between South-East and South-West at 8.45am on Thursday, the final day, was the highlight of the tournament. South-West won 2-1 to take the only points of the tournament off their near rivals in a fierce game in which Hounslow's Guy Fordham and Bromley's Tom Spindlow were outstanding.

South-East went into their last game against Midlands needing a win to be certain of the title. They eventually overcame stubborn Midland resistance, in which Sutinder Mann excelled, to take the lead with nine minutes remaining.

After Bill Waters's shot had been illegally stopped by a defender on the goal-line, Slough's Jon Axworthy converted the resulting penalty stroke. In the last minute Simon Archer freed Glen Prebble, who scored their second and ensured South-East retained the title.

A second-half goal from Daniel Cleife gave West a 1-0 win against the North-West to take second place with South-West, who finished 2-1 winners against the East, in third place, Steve Baker and Spindlow getting the goals.

In the Under-16 competition South-East conceded two goals in six games to take the title from West in a powerful display by a side who would have held their own in the senior competition.

The last divisional round of the indoor club championship takes place tomorrow at Cocks Moors Woods LC, Birmingham, where the Midlands will be deciding their two clubs to join St Albans, the national champions, Welton, Blackheath, East Grinstead, Firebrands and Old Loughtonians on finals night at Crystal Palace on 22 January.

With three of last year's finalists - Harborne, Barford Tigers and Stourport - taking part tomorrow, the competition is going to be fierce, with Imran Sherwani and Stourport favourites to go forward along with Harborne.