MARLOW HC U12s will fulfil a two-year project when they compete for the national hockey title in Cannock on May 10.

They earned their place at the top table by winning a dramatic penalty flicks shoot-out to secure third place at the South Finals in Surbiton.

After losing their semi-final to the hosts, they met Wallingford in the play-offs with only the winners progressing to the national finals.

Sarah Pearce had half a chance to settle it in normal time, but a tense match finished 0-0 meaning the outcome would be decided by penalty flicks.

However, despite practicing penalty flicks in the build-up to the day, Marlow missed their first five and were indebted to keeper Anna Hume for keeping them in it.

Hume was again unpassable once it got to sudden death, and Mia Rogers took advantage to slot home her flick and secure their place at Cannock.

Marlow went to the South Finals as Bucks champions and in their first pool beat Maidenhead 1-0 with Saskia Enderby deciding it a minute from the end.

Their second game was a mirror image of their first, with another reverse stick shot from Enderby deciding it.

They were beaten 2-1 by Surbiton Doves in their third game despite Sarah Pearce putting them in front, but they bounced back with a 1-0 victory over Lewes in game four.

Jemima Copeman scored the all-important goal before Pearce and Enderby were on target in the 2-0 victory over Romsey that secured their place in the semi-finals.

Yet again though it was a team from Surbiton who were their downfall.

This time is was the Magpies, who broke the deadlock early in the second half and then added another late on when Marlow were pushing forwards in search of an equaliser.

That consigned them to the play-offs, when the real drama started to unfold.

Team manager Simon Copeman said: “We are enormously proud of the players who have given everything for the club and their team-mates.

“The drama of sudden death penalty stokes was emotionally draining and the relief at Mia scoring the decider left me and, I suspect, many of the parents welling up.

“The coach Trevor Jackson and myself set an objective of finishing in the top three of the South of England when we mapped this out two years ago.

“We believed in these players and their potential and they have performed superbly.

“To go to the national finals is going to be a fantastic experience – we go there with no fear and the ambition of putting Marlow on the junior national hockey map."