Hockey: Hounslow set to break bottleneck

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The Independent Online
Tomorrow's Pizza Express National League First Division programme could go some way towards sorting out the bottleneck at the top of the table where five teams are on maximum points. The leaders, Hounslow, will welcome back the former Welsh captain, Jon Rees, into their squad for their visit to third-placed Southgate whose captain, John Shaw, is doubtful after having treatment for a neck injury during the week.

Second-placed East Grinstead travel to Chigwell where they will play Old Loughtonians who have consistently been behind the leading bunch, yet are always a hard team to beat on their own ground.

The champions, Havant, are at full strength for their visit to fourth-placed Teddington who have doubts about Jon Hauck and their player-coach, Jon Royce. Jason Laslett, the Teddington captain, reflecting on Havant's poor start, said: 'Havant have relied a lot on Rob Hill in the past and without him I fancy our chances.'

Stourport, the fifth maximum- points side, travel to Crystal Palace to face Bromley and look likely to retain their record. Slough, who gave a disappointing performance last Sunday, look set to introduce Sir William Borlaise schoolboys, Simon Archer and Matthew Ashton, into their starting line-up at home to Cannock.

Reading, at home to Doncaster in one of two Second Division games today, are likely this evening temporarily to take over the leadership from Richmond, who play Harleston Magpies tomorrow.

Guildford look unlikely to be bothered by bottom-placed Warrington and with their close-season signings - Richard Charlesworth and Neil Berry - slotting easily into their squad, could be the biggest threat to Richmond, Reading and Barford Tigers, the joint leaders all on 10 points.

The second round of the Royal Bank of Scotland HA Cup, for the 28 clubs to go into the hat with the National League clubs for the third round draw, takes place tomorrow.