Hockey: Double success raises Lee's spirits

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The Independent Online

Great Britain completed their match preparations for next month's Olympic qualifier in Madrid with two useful victories over the weekend against fellow competitors Belgium, which left coach Jason Lee highly satisfied. "I have been able to give everyone plenty of pitch experience and been able to play players in different positions. The weekend has been very useful."

He might also have expressed his relief that the hand injury to the captain, Brett Garrard, in the closing minutes of Saturday's game was nothing more than painful bruising. At the time fractured fingers were feared as the Surbiton defender took a fearsome ball on the hand at a penalty corner.

For the record Britain won 6-4 on Saturday with Tom Bertram and Nial Stott each scoring twice, and 3-1 yesterday. The opening goal in each game came from teenager Barry Middleton, who improves with every outing. There was also a mature performance from Russell Garcia, who is recapturing his international match fitness. Lee's concern over the weekend is likely to be some sloppy defending which was often only redeemed by brave goalkeeping from Simon Mason on Saturday and Jimi Lewis yesterday.

There was no change to the top six play-off places in the Premier League, although Surbiton were only narrowly edged out at Reading where they went down 1-2. Leaders Cannock marched on at Guildford with a 3-0 victory. Four penalty corner conversions from Jon Bleby gave Loughborough Students a 7-1 win at St Albans - a major boost ahead of their European Indoor competition at the University next weekend.

In Division One, Firebrands, with a 2-1 home win against Beeston, maintained their top spot, while in-form Chelmsford remain one point behind following a 5-0 win against Doncaster in which David De Prez scoring a hat-trick. Early season leaders Bowdon returned to winning form with an 8-1 win against Stourport.

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