Hockey: Doncaster's safety play

THERE SEEMS little doubt that Doncaster's priority this weekend will be tomorrow's first leg of their two-match women's National League play-off at Walsall. On Sunday, they head for High Wycombe for their EHA quarter-final Cup tie against Slough.

The Yorkshire club, who finished bottom of the Premier League, take on Aldridge, who finished third in the First Division, for the one remaining place in next season's restructured Premier League.

Overall victory for Aldridge, who won promotion last season to the First Division at the end of their first season in the National League, would give them their second successive jump.

Much will depend on whether Doncaster can curb the goal-scoring of the former England manager Jane Swinnerton-Ions and whether they can find a way past her former England colleague Lisa Price in the heart of the Aldridge defence.

The next eight weeks will tell John Shaw, the Slough coach, just how good his squad is. Having already finished on top of the Premier League, they should go into the semi-final draw on Monday of the EHA Cup at the expense of Sunday's opponents, Doncaster.

Off to the Netherlands for the European Club Championship over the Easter weekend, they return for the final stages of the Cup and the Premiership play-offs.

After their 2-0 defeat by England on Wednesday evening, Shaw said: "That was our best performance of the season. We are holding the ball well and we should be able to win against Doncaster. But I want to play well and win, not just win." He was delighted with the news that Andy Halliday, who coached the club in the European Indoor Championship, would be joining him as assistant coach for the European event.

Clifton Scottish Life, the Cup-holders, travel to Melton Mowbray, where they can expect tough opposition from Fyffes Leicester. A non-Premier team can be guaranteed a place in the semi-final draw with the tie between Chelmsford Highway, who last week won promotion to the Premier, and Bradford. Hightown entertain Olton Terraquest to complete the line-up.

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