Hockey: Bhatti inspires Sussex

Click to follow
The Independent Online
MAHMOOD BHATTI, the former England winger, yesterday led Sussex to their first County Championship victory when they beat Yorkshire 3- 2 in an exciting final at the Milton Keynes National Stadium.

Earlier in the day they had overwhelmed Cheshire 5-0 while Yorkshire required a penalty-stroke shoot-out to beat the defending champions Surrey. After a 1-1 draw Yorkshire won the penalty barrage 4-3.

The hard-working Bhatti was always in the thick of the fray, never flinching from some hard tackling by a resolute Yorkshire defence as the game swung from end to end. Jason Collins opened the scoring for Sussex in the 10th minute after Bhatti had split the Yorkshire defence.

A fine reverse-stick shot from David Hadwick brought the equaliser for Yorkshire in the 19th minute. Mark Wood put Yorkshire ahead eight minutes into the second half from a follow-up shot after his first effort had wrong-footed goalkeeper Nick Dale. Two minutes later Bhatti levelled the scores to set up a cracking closing period.

The winning goal came with five minutes remaining when Will Champness cracked home their sixth penalty corner - a fitting reward for the defender who had done so much to keep Sussex in the game.

Cheshire reversed the result of last season's Under-21 final when they beat Somerset 4-3 as they made amends for the poor showing of their senior side. It required a surprise 21st-minute goal from Guildford's Roly Ward, which opening the scoring for Somerset, to prompt Cheshire into scoring mode.

Within seconds Cheshire were on terms with a penalty stroke from Jon Hodgkinson. Andrew Taylor and Andrew Brogdon put them 3-1 ahead before Somerset stepped up a gear although they were never quite able to snatch an equaliser, even with Cheshire being reduced to nine men following temporary suspensions in the closing minutes. Ward returned form suspension to claim his second goal and Somerset's third.