SLOUGH remain second from bottom of the Investec League Premier Division after being held to a 2-2 draw by University of Birmingham, the side immediately above them in the table, in a tense relegation battle at Upton Court Park on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

They would have gone above them with a win, and it looked promising for them when they took the lead with less than three minutes on the clock

Early pressure was rewarded with a penalty corner, from which Emma Onien saw her shot come back off the keeper, leaving Mel Ball with the easy task of pushing the ball over the line.

"I wish they were all that easy," commented the scorer after her fourth goal of the season.

It was the ideal start for the Pink 'n' Blacks and, with a shade more confidence behind them, they continued to bear down on the visitors' circle.

However, a defensive slip proved costly in the 19th minute when Aisling Madden's ground shot, delivered without any real power, found its way into the net, with keeper Mila Welch appearing unsighted.

Slough's defence, boasting the best record of the five bottom clubs, were then caught out of position when Birmingham launched a swift counter-attack, which they were only able to stop by giving away a penalty stroke, enabling Jo Turnbull to make it 2-1 in the 26th minute.

A victory for the University, whose only previous league win had come in the home fixture with Slough, would have taken them four points clear of their rivals with five fixtures remaining.

So it was a game the side skippered by Kat McGonigle on her 30th birthday could ill-afford to lose and they upped the tempo in search of the equaliser and had the better of the second half.

Lizzy Totten, voted her side's player-of-the-match, and Kitty Baccanello were both prominent, and it was the latter who equalised eight minutes from time, tapping the ball over the line as it came back off the post.

Coach Kali Takher gave some pitch time to Lucy Wood, who had recently been sidelined after being concussed in a game before Christmas, but he was without the experienced Lou Beaven due to a knee injury and she is again likely to miss the match at Holcombe tomorrow (Saturday, 4pm).

The Pink 'n' Blacks' only win this season so far came against Holcombe, defeating them 2-1 thanks to an Onien first-half brace last October.

The Kent-based side are currently the joint league leaders with Surbiton, both on 28 points from nine wins and a draw.

Slough Men also remain second from last in the MBBO Premier Two standings following a 4-2 defeat at mid-table Tulse Hill & Dulwich last weekend and are nine points adrift of the side immediately above them, Horsham, and with a vastly inferior goal difference.

Both their goals came from Rai Singh, taking his season's tally to 16. Ali Cawthorpe, Arthur Mitchell (2) and Ash Neale were on target for the hosts.

This Saturday (2.30pm) Slough are home to third-placed High Wycombe, who have been beaten only twice this season.