Slough game whets the appetite

IN all sports there are some fixtures that whet the appetite more than others and for the best part of the last 15 years the big fixture in the women's hockey season has been Ipswich v Slough.

IN all sports there are some fixtures that whet the appetite more than others and for the best part of the last 15 years the big fixture in the women's hockey season has been Ipswich v Slough.

Look back through the archives of English Hockey and you find these two old rivals fighting for national glory on a regular basis.

Saturday sees Ipswich, placed fifth in the English Premier Division, travel to sixth-placed Slough, start 12.30pm, and both clubs are aware how important the victory could be to their respective league title ambitions.

If results go their way, a win for either team on Saturday could see them leap up to second place by the end of weekend.

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The last four outdoor fixtures between the teams have seen three draws and one win for Slough and there is no doubt that Saturday's game will be another hard fought encounter.

The last time Ipswich won away at Slough was back in October 2000, when the Suffolk team ran out 5-1

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victors, a game Ipswich vice-captain Lizzy Aldous remembers well as she scored all five goals.

Aldous and the rest of her teammates will not expect such an easy ride on Saturday but Ipswich are confident that if they play to their potential they can claim the win.

Slough have had some up and down results over the season so far, recording only one win in their last four games but the 7-0 thrashing of bottom side Clifton last weekend highlights the potent attacking force of the Berkshire side when they are allowed to dominate play.

Ipswich, on the other hand, have won their last three games and go into this fixture full of the confidence, that a good winning streak brings.

Having missed both Vic Sandal and Evie van Poortvliet last week, due to illness, the squad is back up to full strength for this fixture and every one of the 16 players in the team will have an important part to play.

Slough boast four senior England internationals in their squad, probably the most dangerous being Kate Walsh and Alex Danson and Ipswich will have to be on their guard to thwart the threat these players pose. Walsh can be deadly in a short corner routine and Danson is capable of scoring from anywhere in the circle.

Ipswich though, possess their own threats, none more so than their England star Jo Ellis. Ellis has run into a good patch of form recently and is enjoying her new role as a striker, scoring six goals in her last three games.

Another massive bonus to Ipswich is the superb form of ex-England player Leisa King. King has enjoyed a new lease of life since retiring from international hockey and another good performance from her will cause all sorts of trouble for the home side.

Captain Kirsten Spencer sums it up, saying: “There is no doubt that we have the players to beat Slough on Saturday, but to record our first win there in five years, we must continue to play as a team. Confidence is high after the results in the last three weeks but this game is another massive test for us and we must continue to do the simple things well.”

Ipswich's second team play Braintree in the Women's East League Division One North at Tuddenham Road at 1pm.

Ipswich had seven players in the Suffolk Under-15 girls' side that drew 0-0 with Hertfordshire and beat Lincolnshire 4-1 on Sunday, when Millie McWhirter scored three of the goals.

The other six players involved were captain Beth Scott, Kate Watson, Rebecca Christie, Charlotte Christie, Alice Youngman and Nanna Davies.

The club was represented by manager Sarah Youngman and coach Peter Glading.

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