Hockey: Smith's saves see Slough through

There were mixed fortunes for the defending champions in the opening games in the Higgins Group Indoor Club Championships at Crystal Palace last night.

In the women's competition Chelmsford, also the winners of this season's National League, lost to Slough on penalties after drawing 2-2. After a cat and mouse opening in which Kate Walsh, the former captain, was prominent and Sally Tredget missed a simple tap-in for Slough, Lisa Wooding gave Chelmsford the lead from their second corner, in the 15th minute.

When Tracy Comber increased the Essex side's lead, eight minutes into the second half, Chelmsford looked in complete control. But Alex Scott caught the Chelmsford defence napping with the first of her two goals a minute later.

Slough's ploy of replacing their goalkeeper with a kicking defender then paid the dividend it deserved when, with less than 30 seconds remaining, Scott scored her second to force a penalty shoot-out.

With Slough's goalkeeper, Lynett Smith, who had been in great form throughout the game, keeping her goal intact the Berkshire side won the barrage 2-0 and move into the final.

In the men's competition, Loughborough Students defeated Canterbury, who were without their ace goal scorer David Mathews, 7-2. With only two out-field substitutes the Kent club were no match for the Students, who took over the game after the interval.

Higgins Group Indoor Championship (Crystal Palace): Men's semi-final: Canterbury 2 Loughborough Students 7. Women's semi- final: Chelmsford 2 Slough 2 (Slough won 2-0 on penalties).

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