Hockey: Grinstead set to repeat feat

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The Independent Online
Reading, who took over the leadership of the Premier Division of the National League last weekend, entertain the young, highly attractive East Grinstead tomorrow. Grinstead have built up a reputation this season for knocking the top clubs off their perch - both Cannock and Old Loughtonians having lost pole position following games against the Sussex club.

Grinstead's Great Britain goalkeeper David Luckes said yesterday: "It seems a never-ending round of top clubs to play. Sunday's is another crunch game. Unfortunately we do not do well on water-based pitches - I don't believe we have ever won a league match on one. But we are getting accustomed to not losing and are very confident for the Reading game."

The left-half Danny Byfield will be missing from the Grinstead line-up, but the Scottish international Marc Zander is expected to return in midfield. Reading will be missing Mark Hoskin, who is studying, and the former Slough player Gavin Bambury, who has decided to retire because he is unable to command a regular starting place.

The game will feature both Britain's Olympic goalkeepers since Simon Mason is in the Reading goal. There will also be a striker on each side who will be playing for a place in the England squad to go to Pakistan in March: Reading's Mark Pearn, who just missed out on the Atlanta Games, and the rapidly improving and consistent Richard Gibson, who could well become the answer to England's long quest to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Sean Kerly.

In the second key game of the day, third-placed Old Loughtonians entertain Cannock who were knocked off the top last weekend and are now in second place. Both teams expect to be at full strength.

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