Hockey: Southgate aim for second place

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The Independent Online
HOUNSLOW and Reading may already have won the First and Second Division Championships of the PizzaExpress National League but there is still plenty to play for in tomorrow's final full programme of games.

Southgate make the short trip to Chigwell to play Old Loughtonians where they must win to be certain of the First Division runners-up place while a win for the Old Boys, with a game in hand, would give them an outside chance of finishing in second place.

James Duthie, the Los Angeles Olympic bronze medallist and one of Southgate's most illustrious players, has finally hung up his boots and will be missing from their line-up. Duthie, with 127 international appearances, will now devote himself to coaching and will be with the England Under-18 training squad this weekend at Bisham Abbey.

Other leading players will be at Bisham, thus missing important League fixtures. Brean, threatened with relegation from the Second Division, will be without their Millfield schoolboy, Robert Todd, for their crucial game at home to Harleston Magpies, who are themselves trying to avoid becoming embroiled in the play-off games to retain National status.

The boot will be on the other foot at Nottingham, where Chelmsford's struggle to remain in the Second Division will be helped by the absence of Adrian Lock and Stephen Wood from the Beeston side.

At the top of the division, Indian Gymkhana and Guildford, equal on points, will be fighting for the second promotion place. It is difficult to see Gymkhana not returning to the First Division after just one season but their opponents, Doncaster, are a tough, uncomprising side and will make them fight all the way.

Assuming Gymkhana win by only the odd goal, Guildford, who have an inferior goal difference, will need to win by at least six goals at Cambridge City to lift promotion, a task which while not impossible, looks beyond them.

Leading goalscorers: 23 P Osborn (Reading); 21 R Welch (Southgate); 19 N Thompson (Old Loughtonians), R Thompson (Hounslow).