HOCKEY: Shaw and Thompson in opposition

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The Independent Online
SLOUGH AND Ipswich collide for tomorrow what is certain to be the first of two encounters in the next few weeks and could well be three in the final round of women's National League games. With Slough topping the Premier League on goal difference, they will also meet in the League play-offs at Reading on 17 or 18 April and perhaps again at Milton Keynes on 3 May, with Europe the bait for the winner.

Neither team will be at full strength, however. Lucy Youngs and Jane Cook will be missing from the Ipswich line-up and Michelle Hall and the Dutch winger, Monique Slootmaekers, from the Slough squad.

The interest will be how the two coaches decide to play this first leg. Ipswich's Nicky Thompson may be looking to restore confidence and redeem the defeats in recent weeks by bottom-placed Doncaster and last week at Hightown.

John Shaw, still smarting from Slough's defeat at Ipswich earlier in the season on a partly frozen pitch, will want to put the record straight.

"I don't think I will opt for a cat and mouse game," Shaw said. "My aim will be to get our pattern right with Europe at Easter and then the play- offs in mind."

For these two Great Britain team-mates in the Atlanta Olympics, victory tomorrow will be high on their priorities.

At the bottom, Doncaster, two points adrift of Sutton Coldfield, have crucial games away to Fyffes Leicester and at home to Olton Terraquest on Sunday, while Sutton's last two games are against Hightown tomorrow and at home to Slough, yet to be arranged.

The key game in the First Division is second-placed Chelmsford Highway's match away to third-placed Aldridge. Both clubs are currently equal on points and striving for the second automatic promotion place behind Canterbury. However, fourth-placed Bradford could, with wins against Canterbury tomorrow and Loughborough Students on Sunday, claim their place in the enlarged Premier next season.

n Kuala Lumpur will host the next men's World Cup in 2002, with the women's event going to Perth, Western Australia. The 2002 men's and women's Champions Trophy will be held in Belgium.

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