Clifton 1 Ipswich 0
Slazenger Women's EHLPremier Division Clifton 1 Ipswich 0Ipswich were made to pay for failing to get on the score sheet for only the second time this season against Bristol side Clifton.
Slazenger Women's EHL
Clifton 1 Ipswich 0
Ipswich were made to pay for failing to get on the score sheet for only the second time this season against Bristol side Clifton.
Playing on St David's day, the hosts had no fewer than seven Welsh internationals on show.
The game started at a brisk pace, matching the strong winds that swept round the exposed pitch, and it was the visitors that created the first chances.
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Some good play by defender Kirsten Spencer, returning to the club that honed her talents over 16 years ago, saw Ipswich sweep up the pitch and only last ditch tackling from Clifton denied Ipswich several clear shots.
The best chance of the game fell to Ipswich's Lizzy Aldous after 15 minutes but, having picked off an attempted clearance at the top of the circle, the striker saw her fierce shot calmly palmed away by Clifton's Welsh international keeper.
It was soon Ipswich's turn to rely on some great defending, Hannah Tallent in particular making two great tackles at crucial moments to snuff out the danger. With keeper Charlotte Lee-Smith also in good form things looked promising for the Suffolk side.
Half time arrived with the score line unchanged at 0-0 and, with both teams playing well but not really threatening in attack, a draw looked the likeliest outcome.
Clifton continued to test and probe the Ipswich defence after the break and, when Tallent had to go off due to a back injury, the home side took advantage of the change to press forward.
Ipswich defended expertly and, with Spencer controlling the circle, conceding a goal looked unlikely, however at this level it only takes a split second lapse of concentration to get punished.
Clifton's top scorer Carla Dunnett took full advantage of such a lapse to drive into the circle and unleash a fierce shot into the corner of the goal to give the home side the breakthrough they wanted.
With 18 minutes left on the clock Ipswich knew they had enough time to get back into the game and they won several short corners, however the routine was not working smoothly and the opportunities went begging.
Despite some continued great build up play and superb hard work by the team the visitors could not break through a dogged Clifton defence and it all came down to one last throw of the dice when Ipswich were awarded a penalty corner at the end of time after some neat skills by Jenny Hall.
Ipswich at last got the routine right but their three attempts on the Clifton goal were desperately cleared off the line and, despite strong Ipswich protests about several possible fouls, the final whistle was blown to hand the Bristol side the three points.
With ninth placed Poynton unexpectedly beating second placed Bowdon Hightown 3-0, seventh placed Ipswich and eighth placed Chelmsford are now looking over their shoulders with concern. A win next week for Ipswich against bottom side Old Loughtonians becomes a vital necessity.