Bury St Edmunds III 1 Ipswich Cranes 2
NE14Hockey East Men's League
Bury St Edmunds III 1 Ipswich Cranes 2
CRANES came from behind to win another close match as they enter the final straight of a season that they hope will end with in glory as divisional winners. Cranes have lost their swagger of late and are having to grind out results, much the same as against Lowestoft Railway last week.
Shorn of two first choice midfielders, Cranes lacked structure and shape and Bury were able to drive into their circle too easily early on, a combination of defending too deep and failing to use the outlets led to Bury opening the scoring within the first 10 minutes, a scrappy affair that came after Chris McManus had already produced two good saves, but they all count.
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Cranes were not unduly concerned but when Andy Bristow and Robin Johnson failed to convert some fairly straightforward opportunities a hint of edginess was creeping in and Bury were largely on top. When Robin Johnson received a blow to the face and had to leave the pitch for a trip to A&E it seemed the omens weren't good.
Fortunately for Cranes, Alex Bull came on as back up striker and was a revelation. Bull was causing all sorts of problems and within minutes set Bristow up for a strike that whistled past the post before having a shot saved himself. Cranes renewed energy brought the excellent Paul Muchal into play more and more as Craig Bloomfield was able to get on the ball more and more throughout the half. Half time came with Cranes still trailing by the solitary goal.
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A rethink in the break resulted in some tactical and positional changes and this turned into the archetypal game of two halves as Bury rarely threatened during the second period and Cranes dominated the play. Andel Williams dropped into a man marking role and produced a strong performance to take a key Bury player out of play whereas Dave Bolton pushed on to join Bloomfield in the middle. With Phil Larbey and Kieran Bromley distributing from the back Cranes were looking strong and in a period of less than three minutes midway through the half they turned the game around. A penalty corner ran loose to Bolton who threaded his pass between two defenders to Muchal down the right hand channel, his cutback was swept high into the net by Bristow to equalise. Cranes were in the ascendency and moments later were in front after a breathtaking move. Bristow was shadowing the Bury midfielder just inside the Cranes half when a slip by the Bury player left Bristow with possession in acres of space, he quickly fed the ball forward to Bull through the left hand channel and as Bury were backpedalling, Bull switched the ball to the supporting Muchal on the right who in turn swept the ball across to the far post where Bull dived at full stretch to reverse stick the ball into the goal for the winner - a superb move and a worthy winning goal.
Cranes could have had more as they pushed on, Leon Jones and Tim Macintosh were freed of much of their defensive duties and made frequent ground down the left side of the pitch, supported by Bull who was making a nuisance of himself with his relentless running. Bury did rally late on but Larbey and Jones thwarted much of their efforts and a late penalty corner posed no problem to McManus.
Man of the match: Alex Bull