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Playoff Disappointments for the

3 years ago By Liz Spencer

By Dave Wright

Just one point from two away games last weekend means Reading can no longer reach the play-offs of the NOW: Pensions League.
Blues started with a creditable 2-2 draw against Hampstead and Westminster on Saturday.
But it was a real tale of woe at Canterbury on Sunday, when a severely under-strength side crashed 9-1 to the Kent side battling to avoid relegation.

Blues were missing just five on Saturday, including Richard Mantell, who was becoming a dad for the second time with wife Jen producing a 9lb 10oz boy.
Dan Shingles switched from midfield to fill in for Mantell at the back and had an outstanding game, while teenager Max Heaver also played particularly well.

A defensive error allowed Matt Botha to open the scoring for the home side after just three minutes, but five minutes later Ben Boon equalised with a powerful shot into the top of the net following a long corner.James Simpson restored Hampstead's lead three minutes before half-time, but Blues continued to produce some nice hockey and drew level nine minutes from time.
Peter Scott was upended in the circle and skipper Chris Newman made no mistake with his penalty stroke.

With Saturday's draw ending their play-off hopes, Blues coach Andy Watts released Will Carter-Keall, Max Heaver, Peter Scott and Jack Whelan for the England Hockey Under-18 Cup semi-final at Beeston being played the same afternoon.
Two other registered youngsters, Ali Higginson, Toby Heywood-Bourne, were also allowed to go.

Watts was also missing injured trio Simon Mantell, Tim Lewis and Jonty Clarke, while John Jackson was away playing for Ireland and Richard Mantell was looking after his new son.
So Reading were left with just 15 eligible players, with three of them being goalkeepers, to take on a Canterbury side, who have made several new signings recently in a bid to avoid relegation.

To add to their problems, the game was only two minutes old when Reading lost England international Dan Shingles, who damaged a finger as he tried to defend a penalty corner.
Canterbury scored from the corner and, with Blues still re-organising their side, they conceded two more goals in quick succession to trail 3-0 with just 11 minutes gone.

Reading did manage to settle down and played some good hockey for a time with Aaron Hibbell pulling a goal back.

But Canterbury, looking to follow up their 3-1 win over Brooklands MU the previous day, started to dominate proceedings and ended the first half in control at 5-1.
Reading did not give up and even created the occasional scoring opportunity.
But it got increasingly difficult for the 11 players left on the field who understandably tired in their second game of the weekend.

Team manager Chris Davey said: "To concede four more goals (in the second half) was hard and somewhat flattering to Canterbury. Our guys deserve credit for sticking to it throughout. If they had slackened off it could have been much worse."

To complete a bad day for the club, Reading lost to Beeston in the quarter-finals of the England Under-18 Cup. They were beaten 5-4 on penalties after the match had ended 2-2.

Simon Mantell, Lewis and Jackson will again be missing when Reading meet Wimbledon at Sonning Lane on Sunday (2.30pm) in their last home game of the season.
Reading are hoping Richard Mantell, Clarke and all the under-18 players will be available.
Wimbledon have already booked their place in the play-offs


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