SLOUGH start their defence of the England Hockey indoor title at the Phoenix Sports Centre in Telford this weekend, writes Dave Wright.

Team captain Kat McGonigle fears it will be even tougher this time around than last season.

“We’re under no illusions, it’s going to be very difficult,” she admitted.

Lifting the Super Sixes title at a packed Wembley Arena in January goes down as one of the highlights in the club’s history and they would love to do it again this time around.

McGonigle said her players will be going into the four-match programme in much the same way as they have done in previous seasons.

“Our first aim is to consolidate and make sure we get the points to stay in the top division and then push on after that,” she commented.

“It’s always close. Last year at the start of the second weekend, some teams were in a position where they could either be relegated or win the league.

“We know it’s going to tough and as we’re the defending champions there will probably be teams who will be trying that bit harder to beat us.

“That means there will be a little more pressure on us, so it’s important we start with the right mindset, but I’m sure we can adapt and deal with it.”

A boost for Slough is that their squad includes Georgina Bathurst, who was the surprise leading scorer in the indoor league last season with 16 goals. She was then playing for Berkshire rivals Reading and, ironically, it is they who will be Slough’s opening opponents on Saturday.

The Pink and Blacks can also call upon Alex Scott, who has not been playing outdoors but is available for the indoor competition.

“It’s great to have her back as she was our top scorer before becoming pregnant last year,” commented McGonigle.

As well as Reading, Slough play East Grinstead on Saturday, while Sunday’s opponents are Holcombe followed by Clifton Robinsons.

The second weekend of the league is on January 6-7 at the same Telford arena.

Following their 2-1 win at Maidenhead, Slough have been drawn at home to Conference West side Reading in the third round of the Tier 1 National Cup, scheduled for February 11.

Windsor HC

WINDSOR snatched a point from the jaws of defeat in a last gasp comeback to draw 1-1 with Eastcote 3s on Saturday.

The 11th hour Sean Wright equaliser came with the final touch of the game as Windsor threw everyone forward for a penalty corner on the whistle.

And in a nail-biting finish that saw two shots ricochet around the D, the ball spun to the back post where Wright broke Eastcote hearts with a clean strike to level.

The timely goal was reward for Windsor’s refusal to give up, despite going 1-0 down in the second half after the first 35 minutes were deadlocked.

Playing at home, Windsor had already beaten the cold snap and a frozen corner of the pitch with an intense warm up on the icy area to thaw it out.

They head into the break with a comfortable mid-table position in Middx, Berks, Bucks & Oxon Division Two.

Windsor Ladies are facing a bleak Christmas after their second defeat in a row which leaves them at the foot of Trysports Division One.

Playing at home, Windsor went 4-2 down to a well drilled Bicester side riding high in second place.

The visitors opened the scoring after a one-on-one with keeper Ruki Sayid, but a brilliantly taken Maxine Bonnage shot gave the hosts a massive confidence boost.

While Windsor’s fluid play led by skipper Freya Hayter took the team to the brink of scoring, the final touch was not clinical enough to break down their tough opponents.

And a penalty flick awarded at the other end was tucked away into the far right corner to give Bicester a 2-1 lead into half time.

Windsor battled to stay in the game and smother the forceful attacks but a Bicester forward found space on the right to slam in the team’s third goal from point blank range.

Windsor’s determination to get back in the game saw the team rally and some fine work by Hayter, Bonnage, Emma Harrington and Helena Davidson saw the home team win a penalty flick.

Harrington coolly stepped up to take it and pulled off a text book conversion to the unreachable top right corner to make it 3-2.

With just one goal separating the teams, Windsor gambled by playing a high line but Bicester took full advantage and broke quickly to put the game out of Windsor’s reach.

This Saturday, they face Reading Riots in the last game of the year.