Hockey: Oxford have to be wary of Laird

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OXFORD, WHO play in the National League, are favourites to add to their 37 wins in the 99th Varsity match but Cambridge, who lead the way with 45 victories, have had a good season and are mounting a strong challenge for National status.

The threat to Oxford at the Milton Keynes National Stadium next Tuesday will come from the double Oxford Blue Adam Laird, who after three years of National League experience with East Grinstead, arrived at Cambridge last October and immediately started scoring goals.

Averaging more than two in each of Cambridge's league games, he could be the difference between the sides. Another Cambridge talent with league experience is Steve Gray.

Oxford, led by their South African captain, David Eadie, will be looking to their England Under-21 World Cup striker Tom Matthews to provide the goals. Matthews, along with Tim Johnson, both winning their third Blue along with Eadie, could provide the edge. Cambridge edged home 2-1 winners in last year's women's game. The match turned on a lively performance from Tammy Nancoo, who played for Trinidad and Tobago in last year's Commonwealth Games and the Cambridge captain, Liz Ellwood, a stalwart in defence.

Cambridge: M Harris; P Outram; P Dodd, R Hudson (capt), S Gray; G Weir, A Cotton, I McClive, T Gruslin; A Laird, J Costelloe. Substitutes: R Wilcock, T Damek, N Campbell, J Craven, S Deadmon.

Oxford (from): C Andrews, N Timson, E Bevan, W Whitworth, N Pirihi, D Eadie (capt), P Atkinson, T Johnson, A Gough, T Matthews, M Darbon, J Pilch, M Mayer, P Baker, T Palmer, T Perry.

Cambridge women: C Wright, E Ellwood (capt), R Meredith, F Panizza, J Belcher, M Sherlock, R Joyner, H Mansfield, H Coles, J Doble, T Nancoo, N Redpath, E Anelay, E Kirschen, H Dent, A MacDonald.

Oxford women: R Illingworth, N Orringe, S Mackie, C McKenna (capt), K Hampson, G Traub, V Pope, J Broers, E Kingstone, N Jacobsen, H Brooks, J Connell, R White, A Sherwood, B Watts, S Baker.