HOCKEY: Liddar lifts Loughborough

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The Independent Online
SOMETIMES IT pays to be unpunctual. Kulraj Liddar, the Loughborough University student who plays for Cannock, arrived late for his club's opening game in the DTZ Midland Indoor Club Championship yesterday and was immediately recruited to the Students, who went on to become joint winners along with Beeston. They will be the region's two qualifiers in the National rounds in January.

Cannock, the National outdoor champions, handicapped by a head injury to Chris Mayer, did not reach the pool stages, losing 5-4 to Kidderminster. There was also a surprise defeat in the early stages for Barford Tigers, who went down 3-2 to Coventry and North Warwick.

There were no upsets in the South, where Guildford and East Grinstead won through, although Guildford needed a penalty-stroke barrage to progress at the expense of Surbiton. With both clubs comfortable pool-winners, the final play-off match was a cracker. The teams shared 22 goals before the barrage, which Guildford won 2-0. Surbiton's first penalty was saved and the second hit the upright.

With never more than a goal between the sides, Surbiton went ahead for the first time at 11-10. For Guildford there were hat-tricks for Martin Durban, Roly Ward and Jason Collins, with Andrew Balchin scoring five for Surbiton.

Earlier, the young Havant side, who had caused an upset with a 6-3 victory against Bromley, then lost 12-3 to Guildford, with Ward and the former Havant player Adrian Wilkinson scoring four apiece. Havant, to their joy, secured their place in the inaugural National League when Lewes defaulted their match with half their squad having left the venue.

The final League place went to Maidenhead, thanks to a hat-trick from Mike Williamson, now the Berkshire club's player-coach, in a 4-3 win over Teddington. In the Crowe Insurance East League, where National entries are decided a year in advance, Dunton Engineering and Old Loughtonians won their pools impressively.