League aspirants on song

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Hampstead & Westminster and Chelmsford started their challenge to regain their National League status with powerful performances on the first day of the Inter League Tournament at Milton Keynes yesterday.

Mike Cullen, Chelmsford's South African international, opened the scoring in the second minute in their 4-1 win against Loughborough Students. Although Graham Butler equalised for the students within two minutes, further goals from Darren Whitford (2) and Alan Thorogood saw Chelmsford home.

Rob Thompson, Hampstead's player-coach, scored twice in his side's 3- 0 defeat of Norton but it was the midfield play of the Dutchman Jan Job van Dijk and the captain, Dan Williams, which dominated the game.

Reading, the HA Cup holders, will be without two key players for their semi-final tomorrow against St Albans at Sonning Lane. Great Britain goalkeeper Simon Mason is recovering after surgery to his back and England Under- 21 midfielder Manpreet Kochar is suffering from a stress fracture in his leg.

Should Reading win tomorrow, as is likely, both are expected to miss the final at Milton Keynes on 11 May. Richard Hargraves will take over from Mason. The good news for Reading is the return of under-18 international Jonny Loose and the New Zealander Karl Sanders, who has been nursing a hamstring injury.

Teddington could be without Peter Wiles for their visit to Surbiton in which case Jamie McBride comes in. Teddington will recall their 4-3 defeat by the Surrey club at the beginning of the season, but it is difficult to see anything other than a Reading-Teddington final with Reading wanting to add the cup to their league title.