Cannock ready to bounce back against Beeston
CANNOCK coach Paul Edwards has insisted his players can bounce back from last weekend's opening day disappointment with a win at Beeston on Saturday.
The Staffordshire outfit took the lead twice against defending England Hockey League champions East Grinstead last weekend but couldn't put the game to bed and were squeezed out 4-3.
And to make matters worse, Cannock are likely to be without captain Matt Taylor for the next month after the midfielder limped off during the defeat with a hamstring injury.
But Edwards was adamant his side has the strength in depth to cover for Taylor's absence and would prove it against Beeston, who were beaten 4-2 by Loughborough Students last weekend.
"We were disappointed with the result against East Grinstead but not with the way we played," said Edwards.
"We equipped ourselves well apart from a ten minute spell when the game swung their way. We all took a lot of positives from the performance and we want to carry that belief into the weekend.
"Obviously losing someone like Matt so early in the season is disappointing. It could be between four and six weeks until he's back but it's too early to tell yet."
Cannock were the early pacemakers in the EHL last season, sitting undefeated at the top of the table at the Christmas break with wins against East Grinstead and Reading under their belt.
But a poor run of form at the end of the season saw Edwards' charges slip to fourth and miss out on a place in Europe with Saturday's opponents Beeston claiming the third qualifying spot.
But with the top five teams contesting a playoff for the European spots this season, the Cannock coach insists the same won't happen this time round.
"The ultimate goal for this season is to qualify for Europe again," said Edwards.
"We finished in the worst possible position last year but this season the top five go into a playoff so we want to be amongst that.
"Obviously our aim is to win the league and qualify automatically but if we can't manage that, then we want to finish in the top five."
Elsewhere on Saturday, Premier Division new boys Brooklands MU face East Grinstead, Loughborough Students host Bowdon and Surbiton travel to London rivals Hampstead and Westminster.
Meanwhile, last season's runners-up Reading will line up against the University of Exeter on Sunday.