SLOUGH have given themselves a great chance of avoiding relegation from the Investec League Premier Division this season, writes Dave Wright.

They defeated Hampstead & Westminster 2-1 in the first of three play-off games and just one more win should see them survive.

The Pink and Blacks left it late at the Nottingham Hockey Centre on Sunday as there were less than two minutes remaining when they sealed the crucial victory.

Hampstead, coached by former England and Great Britain skipper Kate Richardson-Walsh, took the lead through Amy Askew after 38 minutes.

Lizzie Totten equalised on 44 minutes and Dilly Newton netted a late winner following a penalty corner.

When in a similar position last year, Slough drew their opening game before going on to take the second spot with a win and another draw.

"Winning on Sunday has certainly taken some off the pressure off us," said captain Kat McGonigle. "It is by no means a job done, but it's a massive boost to win your first game in the play-offs.

"One more win should be enough and hopefully it will come on Saturday as it would mean a more relaxed game for us against Loughborough."

McGonigle led her side against Conference East champions Hampstead despite nursing a broken finger.

"I did it in the game against Buckingham and had an operation last Tuesday," she said.

Newton and Harriet Ward shared the player-of-the-match award.

Mel Ball, nursing a fractured jaw, and Flora Walker, who was not available, were both missing on Saturday but could return this weekend.

Slough play Stourport this Saturday (2pm) - having defeated them 2-1 exactly a year ago - and Loughborough Students on Sunday (11.30am), with both games at Lee Valley in East London.

Conference North champions Loughborough slammed Stourport 5-1 last weekend and face Hampstead this Saturday.