READING men are hoping it will be third time lucky when they take on Surbiton in England Hockey’s play-off semi-finals at Lee Valley on Saturday (1.15pm), writes Dave Wright.

Blues, who finished third in the Premier Division, lost twice to runners-up Surbiton in the league, but the games were close.

In the early-season clash at Sugden Road they were beaten 5-4 after being 3-1 up at one stage.

Then, in the return fixture at Sonning Lane last month, Reading were edged out by the odd goal in three.

“They were both close games and could have gone either way,” said Blues player-coach Andy Watts.

“So we just need to find that little bit more on Saturday.

“They (Surbiton) are an attacking side, but we feel we will get (scoring) chances against them. It is a challenge we are all looking forward to and it should be another good game.”

Watts (broken finger) and skipper Chris Newman (broken nose) have both recovered from the injuries they suffered in the 3-2 win over Cannock last month.

John Jackson is nursing a mouth injury, which he suffered when accidentally struck by club colleague Simon Mantell during a Great Britain versus Ireland friendly at Bisham Abbey last week.

“Jacko has been in some discomfort but it shouldn’t stop him from playing on Saturday,” said an optimistic Watts.

Watts made his comeback from injury when Blues, missing several regulars, defeated Conference West champions Cardiff & Met 5-2 in a friendly at ?Sonning Lane on Sunday.

Blues also trained on the Lee Valley pitch on Tuesday evening along with Canterbury.

The winners of the Reading and Surbiton game will take on Premier Division winners Holcombe or defending champions Wimbledon in the final at Lee Valley on Sunday at 3.15pm.

Blues Squad: Tommy Alexander, Chris Wyver, Rick Mantell, Olly Deasy, Will Carter-Keall, Tim Atkins, John Jackson, James O’Nelll, Monty Jefferson, Jack Smart, Chris Newman (capt), Dan Shingles, Jonty Clarke, Simon Mantell, Ben Boon, Tom Carson, Peter Kelly, Andy Watts.

l CHARLOTTE Daly starred as Reading HC's Ladies 1A (pictured above) booked their place in the final of England Hockey's Women's 2nd XI Plate competition on Sunday afternoon.

The England Under 21 international scored twice and helped to set up another goal as Blues defeated Lichfield 2nds 5-1 in a one-sided tie at Sonning Lane.

Hayley Munt, Fen Holland and Olivia Lee-Smith were also on target for Reading, who will meet 2014 champions Chelmsford 2nds in the final at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2.