Travelling Ipswich Seven Hockey Club 3’s have nothing to show for their hard work against traditional rivals after a hard fought game against Norwich City 5’s who before the start of the day were 1 point and one place above Ipswich. Ipswich knew they were in for a hard game, travelling into the Norfolk gloom with a bare 11, with the evergreen Kevin Paige kindly stepping up from the 4’s at the last minute after Ollie Cook failed a late fitness test. Ipswich without a raft of the usual and influential suspects had to do some re-jigging with Robin ”Storm” Swindin stepping in as skipper. As with all great captaining traditions, Swindin put himself where he wanted as midfield general rather than where would have been best for the team, Left Back in the Hut.
Ipswich started very slowly with a new backline of Paige, Gilmour, Langton and Anthony Harper finding their feet in an unfamiliar set up and a midfield of Ipswich’s version of the Mitchell (or possibly Chuckle) brothers, Andrew and Robin Swindin, Andrew Cutting and Steven Askins finding it difficult to find traction against a wave of Norwich attacks, on a pitch that appeared to be lit by four 40 watt bulbs. Ipswich were lucky not to be a number of goals down in the first 10 minutes when great goalkeeping by Thomas Cherry in goal and some major incompetence from the home side keeping the scores level. The deadlock was finally with the pressure Ipswich were under at the back resulting in a penalty corner, and a forceful Norwich shot found its way through the otherwise faultless Thomas Cherry’s legs to make it 1 nil.
This seemed to galvanise Ipswich who started to put some moves together themselves, with Andrew Cutting and Steven Askins skinning a number of opposition players before releasing the hard working but initially forgotten front line off Aiden Pierson and Jasper Mayhew. Unfortunately from one maurarding run from Steven Askins, the Norwich player played the ball into the Ipswich players head and the claret immediately flowed freely. To add insult to injury, somehow the Umpire decided that the Ipswich player had also fouled the ball in head butting it and gave the home side the benefit of the doubt from his stating position, not for the first time.
With Askins off, possibly for good while he was seeking medical attention, Ipswich battened down the hatches and set about their task with try British grit. Jasper Mayhew now ploughing a lone furrow up from but still causing defenders to appear to have jelly legs with his wizard stickwork and Andrew Cutting, playing like a teen sensation feeding the ever influential Aiden Pearson, now playing in midfield. Angus Gilmour started to spray passes about, stepping into space from the back and Kevin Paige and Anthony Harper provided width and vigour down the flanks. The Swindin’s decided finally to break with tradition and actually pass to one another and from backs against the wall, baby steps forwards were made. When the Norwich long ball tactics did work, Richard Langton and Thomas Cherry were there to suffocate any hope Norwich had of increasing the lead before half time. Before the break, from the mist came Steven Askins, resembling Terry Butcher with bandage wrapped round his head brought Ipswich back to their full 11 which was a great moral boost just before the break.
Half time and the team talk was of communication and organisation and with these things, Ipswich could get something from the game. Andrew Swindin, with nostrils flaring suddenly stopped thinking and started playing and Ipswich now had threat and purpose all over the pitch. Ipswich were playing the beautiful game now with some stick moves and ball transfer meaning the Norwich players were not enjoying their day anymore. Ipswich now won penalty corners but couldn’t score and with the hard work and effort, Ipswich switched off, allowing Norwich to nick the ball in midfield and play a long ball to their forward who finished with a reverse stick shot off Thomas Cherry’s top pad.
Not disheartened but if anything spurred on further, Ipswich pressed forwards with Andrew Swindin becoming a constant thorn in the side of the Norwich defence, and the midfield now creating pressure and chances. One of Andrew Swindin’s runs into the opposition 23 was halted at the 4th attempt at ABH with the umpire awarding a short corner. The assailant then went about using colourful language and seemed to miss the fact that he should have been sitting out the rest of the game, such was the incompetence of the challenge. From the resulting corner, Jasper Mayhew hit the target for the first time that evening but probably not the last, smashing his shot in the bootom right corner. On a surface that now would have been more suited to Torvill and Dean, Ipswich continued to press but were just found wanting come the final whistle.
The team worked extremely hard and special mention should go to Aiden Pearson, Thomas Cherry and Angus Gilmour for fantastic performances in a testing environment. Ipswich came away empty feeling that they could have taken something from the game as they grew into the game and finished the stronger and will take this into next weeks game.