Hockey: Brown's return inspires the champions

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Slough, the defending National League champions, are already setting a cracking pace at the top of the Premier Division in spite of starting the season with a number of injury problems.

The good news for Slough is that Karen Brown's return to the midfield for the second half against Sutton last Saturday spurred them on to five second half goals in their 7-2 victory.

There is also good news for the England coach, Maggie Souyave, in the return to fitness of Lucy Cope, who missed all of last season. The 22- year-old Great Britain and England defender is currently playing a very prominent role in Slough's midfield.

Clifton Scottish Life, Slough's oppponents tomorrow, are also unbeaten although they had to share the spoils in their opening game against Sutton Coldfield. Last week they cast off their disappointment at the sudden departure of their latest recruit, the England international striker Kath James from Trojans - who decided that she would go and play for non-National League Bournemouth - with a 3-1 win at Olton, with Denise Marston-Smith scoring twice.

The greatest danger to Slough's record will come from the former international Tammy Miller, whose scheming and probing is capable of unsettling the best of defences, along with the speedy Lucy Culliford. Ipswich, the only other Premier side with a 100 per cent record, entertain Hightown.

In Division One, Canterbury are the only team on maximum points, with good wins over Loughborough Students and former Premier side Bracknell. They will be strong favourites to beat Wimbledon tomorrow.

Canterbury's 6-1 thrashing of the students prompted the latter's coach and lecturer, the former Great Britain captain Mary Nevill, to line-up at sweeper for last week's game to provide stability. It worked - with a 4-2 victory away to Sunderland Bedans.