Hockey: Students are well placed for play-offs

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The Independent Online

There Have been mixed fortunes for the defending men's champions, Loughborough Students, at the halfway stage in the Men's Premier Division of the National Indoor Leagues.

They go into the second half of the programme this weekend on maximum points and look reasonably assured of a play-off place, although forthcoming examinations are likely to deny them the services of the leading goalscorer, Richard Alexander, for at least part of the weekend.

The Women's Premier Division side Slough, on the other hand, are feeling the loss of their Great Britain players and lie in sixth place, eight points behind the leaders, Chelmsford.

The Essex side, who were champions in 2002, are on maximum points, two points ahead of Clifton. Their clash with Clifton this evening is almost certain to decide this year's title.

The non-National League club St Austell became a talking point after the first four games in the Premier Division at Haslemere last weekend, recording wins over Canterbury and Trojans.

The Cornish club more than held their own with the centre striker Linda Webb looking one of the most dangerous players on view. There was also sterling work from their one guest player, Michelle Stone.

St Austell narrowly lost their games against Hightown and Clifton by the odd goal on the second day and lie in fourth place. They are harbouring ambitions of a first-ever visit to Crystal Palace for the finals night.

With only one place available for promotion to the Premier Division, the going looks toughest this weekend at Aldershot in the Women's Division One South, where Harleston Magpies, Woking, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks all share top spot with nine points each.