East Grinstead, trailing 5-1 at half time, stormed back to draw 7-7 with Canterbury at full-time and win 3-1 on penalties in a spectacular end to the first national indoor hockey championships, staged at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham last night.
Ashley Jackson clinched the title with a penalty stroke to complete his hat-trick after scoring the winning penalty to defeat Reading in the semi-finals.
East Grinstead will compete in the European club championships next year with the Chelmsford women's team, who beat Canterbury 2-1 to win the final for a second time in three years.
The Qatar Airways-sponsored event, which returns to the NIA next year, attracted nearly 4,000 spectators who were entertained by a feast of goals and gripping finishes to numerous matches.
East Grinstead, runnersup last year, had also made a late spurt in the semi-final. They managed to defeat Reading 3-1 on penalties after trailing 4-1 and levelling 5-5 at the end of normal time.
Loughborough Students were denied the opportunity of a fourth consecutive final appearance. Leading 2-1 with five seconds remaining in the first semi-final, their hopes were dented when Rob Playford equalised for Canterbury.
The Students missed all of their attempts from the spot and the Kent side won 3-2 after penalties. However, the Students will be competing in this year's European club championship in Eindhoven in a fortnight's time.
In the first women's semi-final, Chelmsford had scored at a rate of one goal about every three-and-a-half minutes to defeat Ipswich 12-6, having led 3-0 in the first seven minutes. In the other semi-final, Sally Walton scored two late goals for Bowdon Hightown but her efforts failed to save them from losing 3-2 to Canterbury.
Sutton Coldfield won the girls' Under -18 final for a second successive year, beating Bromsgrove School 3-2. Katie Long put Sutton into an early lead but Bromsgrove equalised within two minutes through the first of Anna Perrott's two goals. Sophie Manning and Clare James scored Sutton's other goals.
There were exciting finishes in the boys' and girls' Under-16 finals. Winchester beat Portsmouth Grammar School 2-1 with the last shot of the match in the boys' contest and Repton pipped Belper 6-5 in the girls' final with a sudden-death penalty win after they were level 3-3 at full time.
Havant beat Kingston Grammar School 2-1 to win the boys' Under-18 final. n The six leading teams in the Coaching Solutions League Premier Division all drew on Saturday.
Fifth-placed Olton held leaders Sikh Union (Nottingham) to a goalless draw, while joint-second placed Tel-ford & Wrekin drew 3-3 with Chesterfield, who are among the relegation-threatened sides.
Coventry, who are on the same points mark as Telford, fought out a 2-2 draw against Bridgnorth who are a point behind them. Four of the six matches ended in draws. Harborne were held 4-4 away by bottom side Players while Edgbaston beat Nottingham University 4-1.
Sutton Coldfield now lead Midlands Division One by six points after beating Stratford 2-0 while their nearest rivals, Mansfield lost 2-1 to fourth-placed North Stafford.