Chelmsford 2 Ipswich 2

Slazenger EHL East Conference Chelmsford 2 Ipswich 2 SECOND-half strikes from Ed Driver and Ivan Smith were enough to give Ipswich men a share of the points as the visitors fought back from 2-0 down in a fascinating National League East encounter against local rivals Chelmsford.

Slazenger EHL

East Conference

Chelmsford 2 Ipswich 2

SECOND-half strikes from Ed Driver and Ivan Smith were enough to give Ipswich men a share of the points as the visitors fought back from 2-0 down in a fascinating National League East encounter against local rivals Chelmsford. The home side, currently the league's bottom team, were the dominant force for much of the match and could easily have walked away with all three points, but Ipswich showed their fighting quality in the second half to ensure that they stay out of the relegation zone at the Christmas break.


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Chelmsford were quickest out of the blocks in the first half, putting the visitors under a considerable amount of pressure from the moment that the match began. Ipswich looked to be struggling with both the difficult weather conditions and an algae covered water-based pitch which soon turned their sparkling, Seven sponsored away shirts from white to brownish green.

However, it was the dynamic movement of the Chelmsford players who were the biggest problem, with talented siblings Luke and Josh Mepham proving to be a huge thorn in the side of Ipswich. It was a brilliant run from Josh Mepham that led to the opening goal, as the gifted but temperamental forward moved from left to right before entering the circle and smashing the ball to his brother who deflected the ball into the net with ease from close range. Ipswich tried to pull themselves back into the match, and almost equalised through Captain Ivan Smith following a great run from mercurial right midfielder Keir Dixon. However, it was Chelmsford who continued to look the more dangerous, and could easily have been further ahead were it not for some high quality goalkeeping from teenager Fred Whitfield.

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Following some strong words of encouragement from Smith and coach Iain Gall, Ipswich began the second half looking far more lively, intent on taking all three points from the match. Despite the good start, it was Chelmsford who moved further ahead, as Josh Mepham converted a penalty corner from close range. Ipswich knew that they had to dig deep to get something from the match, and were given a lifeline when Josh Godfrey was cynically fouled in front of an open goal leading to a penalty stroke. Midfielder Ed Driver made no mistake from the spot, sending the keeper the wrong way to claim his first National League goal. Ipswich were in the ascendency, and equalised seven minutes later thanks to a stunning half volley that flew into the roof of the net from Ivan Smith. The goal was created out of nothing by Keir Dixon, who beat three players in a 60-yard run down the right before finding his captain in the circle with a pin-point cross. Just as it seemed Ipswich would go on and take the victory, disaster struck. Mark Wheelhouse received a yellow card suspension for what was deemed a poor challenge by the umpire, before being reduced to nine men when Ivan Smith joined him for a spell in the sin bin for a bad tackle. Chelmsford went of the offensive, and so nearly won the game with five minutes to go when Luke Mepham crossed to Craig Chin who missed an open goal from close range.

It was a huge let off for Ipswich, who had arrived in Chelmsford confident of claiming all three points, but in the end were lucky to have secured only one.

Ipswich coach and former Chelmsford player Iain Gall was disappointed with the first half performance, but was more pleased with what he saw from his side in the second period. “I thought that, for whatever reason, we just didn't turn up in the first half, and they ripped us apart at times. We were much better in the second half and showed some real determination, but we have a lot of work to do before the season re-starts in February if we want to continue being a National League hockey team.”

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