Hockey: Reading ready to hit form

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The Independent Online
A DEPLETED Loughborough University travel to Reading today for their rescheduled EHA fifth-round Cup match. Manager Bob McBlane was putting on a brave face yesterday, but without four squad members who are sitting final examinations and their player-coach Jason Lee cup-tied, his side have a tough task.

"Reading's refusal to delay the start until 4pm, as requested by us, is disappointing, but it has fired us up and it could give us the edge," McBlane said.

The rearranged date also means that Reading will be without goalkeeper Simon Mason, who is at Kidderminster with the Millfield School Under-16 team, competing in the National Youth Indoor finals.

In a full National League programme tomorrow, leaders Canterbury entertain Beeston, while second-placed Cannock are at home to Guildford. Guildford will be boosted by the appearance of former Reading player Mark Hoskin, who signed for them over Christmas. A crucial game at the other end of the table will be the visit of Brooklands, who have no points, to the club directly above them, East Grinstead.

In Division One, where only the top team will go into a play-off for next year's Premier, all eyes will be on Chelmsford's new recruits.

Although seventh, the Essex club are four points behind leaders Doncaster and have recruited two South Africans in Craig Carolan, who has left Southgate where he was top goal-scorer last season, and midfielder Craig Fulton. They could provide the extra punch Chelmsford need for the final push.