Ipswich traveled up the a140 in full confidence after beating Dereham 5-3 the previous week and maintaining their unbeaten start to the new season.
The Boys knew this would be their toughest test yet against a Norwich side who were yet to drop points in the League.
Norwich’s strong start to the season can be put down to a long drawn out pre season, the addition of several new players…. as well as their first 3 fixtures being against 3 teams piped for relegation. The Norwich Chairman has reportedly increased the club’s Transfer budget this season in a push for promotion to the promised land of Division 2.
After a Covid hit pre season, the boys had started the new season memorably, producing some of the finest Hockey witnessed at Tuddenham Road in recent years. The short break between League games certainly punished Ipswich, with little time for the boys to recover after putting 5 past Dereham last weekend.
The demanding schedule was apparent, with the Ipswich team losing several to injury:
1. Midfield mistro Max falling ill on Thursday led to a last minute change on Saturday morning with veteran playmaker Windy swapping pitches to join the first team.
As the time moved closer to 2, Coach Wiid sent his pack of lions out for a warm up. As Ipswich ran through their warm up, they noticed a pack of Canaries playing a spot of cricket.
It was later established why the Canaries were playing Cricket… 2 minutes after the Lions returned to their leader, the Norwich Coach informed the team there would be a delay in the start of the game with only 12 minutes to warm up.
The change in time was just another thing the young Ipswich Team had to deal with, as well as only having 15 men present.
Fortunately early bird Southgate turned up just to catch the end of the team talk giving the Team a renewed sense of confidence.
As the Ipswich Team finally made their way on to the pitch, Windy made the point he had played on better pitches 4 decades ago… despite the pitch being relatively brand-spanking-new.
The bouncy, uneven surface proved difficult for the slick ball passing game Ipswich had mastered in the first 3 games of the season. Despite Norwich playing all Home games and 3 Training sessions on it each week, there was little between the 2 sides.
The pitch did make things difficult for both sides to get a strong footing on the game with mistakes plentiful.
However, it was Norwich who started the game the better of the 2 sides.
The home advantage and new Government rules certainly benefited the Norwich side with people only able to mix with their household or family. The huge following from the Norwich Team was matched by the 2 Ipswich Fans and a Dog.
Yet it was Ipswich who struck first, sending the 2 Fans and Dog wild. A well devised Short corner routine was bundled over the line by Captain Fantastic Cutting who added another to his tally for the season. A fine goal by anyone’s standards.
Norwich did not take long to respond. Without much of a game plan, Norwich resorted to crashing the ball into the Ipswich defensive circle. One of these crashes fortunately hit the stick of the Norwich Forward who had his eyes shut which deflected the ball into the Ipswich Goal.
The defensive line of Youngman - Fry - Southgate - Conway, defended courageously and where helped out by versatile young defender Edmond who played on both sides of the defence throughout the game.
There were not much to write home about for the rest of the half with the scores level 1-1.
As the boys came out for the second half, Ipswich started sluggish and invited early pressure which was well dealt with by the Ipswich backline.
Just as Ipswich began to get back into the game they were hit on the counter attack. A ‘no look’ hit from the Norwich defensive circle somehow found the Norwich playmaker in the middle of the pitch unmarked. As he ran with the ball the Ipswich defensive line parted like the red sea. The ball was fired into the circle for another fortunate deflected goal squeezing in off the post.
Ipswich had little time to settle. Within 2 minutes of the restart, Norwich found themselves once again in the Ipswich circle. This time the umpire guessed it was a corner. The short corner was not well worked like the Ipswich short corner in the first half. The corner came out and it was slipped to an unmarked player to flick the ball into the top corner of the Ipswich goal (not a bad finish, but certainly no Puki). 3-1.
The home crowd grew in confidence after the 3rd goal.
“We are Top of the League” was cried out by the Norwich folk. contingent
This was until Windy happened.
Windy broke through the Norwich midfield after weaving through 3 attempted tackles showing a deceptive turn of pace before unleashing a venomous strike which was too powerful for the Norwich ‘keeper... going through the keeper with the ball.
The ball cannoning off the Keepers’ right glove into the roof of the net.
The crowd behind the Ipswich goal fell silent and the nerves of the Norwich fans suddenly radiated onto the Norwich players.
With Norwich on the back foot, Ipswich applied the pressure. The pressure was rewarded with 2 Norwich players seeing cards and spending some together to on the sideline.
Ipswich pressed and pressed but the lack of recovery time from last weekend began take its tole.
The lack of recovery time was showing in the Ipswich legs with Southgate becoming the fastest player on the pitch, weaving through countless lazy Norwich tackles proving once again how truly skillful this experienced defender is.
It has been widely reported that Southgate has hired a fitness coach in the off season in an effort to remain at the top of his game, with the highlight of his journey beating GK Hardwick in a 5K race (after a technicality).
The game finished 3-2 to Norwich.
It must be remembered that the Ipswich Team have had a busy start to the season, they were away at Bedford only 2 weeks prior to this game so not much must be made of this result.
There was one silver lining to take from this game was that the Teas on offer last week were far superior to what was offered after the game at Norwich.