Hockey: Hightown eye league

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The Independent Online
A meeting between the reigning champions and last season's runners- up provides a mouthwatering start to the season when the National League programme begins on Sunday.

Slough, chasing their fifth title in seven years, travel north to Hightown, winners of the Cup and indoor championships but still looking for their first title.

"It is vital we start well. We still have to prove ourselves League- wise," Maggie Souyave, the Hightown and England coach said. However, the Lancashire club will be handicapped by the loss of Lorraine Marsden, who has joined Clifton, and the Great Britain defender, Chris Cook, who has elected not to play club hockey this season to concentrate on her Olympic preparations. Even with the addition of the Welsh international Yana Williams and Michelle Liptrot from Wigan they will be hard pressed to hold the champions.

The highly creative Slough team will be able to field their three Great Britain players - Karen Brown, Mandy Nichols and Anna Bennett - but will be without Julia Robertson, who is likely to miss most of the season after a recent knee operation.