Hockey: Hightown helped by Clifton forces

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THIS SEASON'S Indoor Premier League gets under way this weekend at the Perdiswell Leisure Centre, Worcester, with the First and Second Divisions completing their programmes.

The England striker Tina Cullen will be leading a Hightown squad which includes her fellow international, the Royal Air Force officer Lucy Newcombe, who currently plays her outdoor hockey with Clifton. Also guesting from the Clifton club will be the high-scoring Denise Marston-Smith, but they will be without Michelle Liptrot, who lost the top of a finger in Hightown's abandoned Cup game last Sunday.

The defending champions, Slough, will be without Karen Brown for this year's competition; she is giving a miss to the indoor season and there are doubts about the availability of the Welsh international Lauren Williams. The six Premier League teams play each other over the two days, with the top four going into a play-off at Crystal Palace on the weekend beginning 30 January.

High-scoring Canterbury lead the way in the First Division, on goal difference from Old Loughtonians. Mel Clewlow has been in devastating form for the Kentish side, scoring 15 goals in their first four games, while Linda Webb has gone even better, scoring 16 times for St Austell in the Second Division. The Cornish side, however, only start in third place tomorrow. Loughborough Students lead the way, on goal difference from Clifton.

John Wright, the Havant Ladies' coach who also took Havant's men to two National League titles and an HA Cup win in the early 1990s, has died at his home at the age of 59. After leaving Havant's men, Wright coached Zimbabwe and Greece, before returning to England last year.