Hockey: Pearn's pace starts revival for Reading

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The Independent Online

The League champions Reading and Slough remain on course to win the Premiership play-off finals after the first round of games yesterday. Reading accounted for Surbiton 4-1 while Slough thrashed Olton and West Warwickshire 6-1 in the women's game. Third-placed Cannock came from behind to beat Loughborough Students 3-2, whilst Leicester beat the women's cup winners Ipswich 4-0.

Surbiton started smartly with young Matt Daly scoring at their first penalty corner. But seconds after Mark Pearn's appearance as a 10th-minute substitute, the England striker broke clear of the Surbiton defence to beat goalkeeper David Luckes with a fierce shot.

Andy Todd finished off a seven-man move for Reading to take a 2-1 lead into the break. New Zealanders Ken Robinson and Simon Towns added second-half goals. Surbiton now have to beat Cannock next Saturday to gain a rematch with Reading in the final at Beeston a week today.

Two opening penalty-corner goals from Sarah Kelleher saw Slough take advantage Olton's indecisive defence. Jane Smith gained a hat-trick with Sam Wright scoring the other goal. Olton's consolation came when Helen Grant dived in at the far post. Slough's final opponents will be the winners of Saturday's game between Olton and Leicester.

l Richard Wyatt, the chief executive of the beleaguered English Hockey Association, resigned yesterday. The move comes ahead of a special general meeting next Saturday and could lead to the association ceasing to trade.