Dereham IV 1 Ipswich Cranes 2

NE14Hockey East Men's League

Division 4NE

Dereham IV 1 Ipswich Cranes 2

CRANES dragged themselves to the top of the league table by grinding out a win against stubborn opposition. Despite being a difficult team to beat, Dereham showed little ambition and were set up with a deep sitting backline and sweeper and a game plan to bypass midfield by throwing aerial balls to their talented centre forward. This worked to an extent but marshalled closely by Andy McManus, Dereham were isolated upfront and failed to trouble the defence for much of the game.

Cranes dominated possession but strong resistance from Dereham was frustrating the away side until Robin Johnson slipped free down the left hand side, beat several players and centred to Andy Bristow for an easy finish. Cranes remained on top and excellent work from Craig Bloomfield and Nick Tiley-Nunn in centre midfield resulted in the ball repeatedly finding the ever-threatening Paul Muchal wide on the right.

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The pattern of the game remained much the same throughout the second half until Dereham sprang a surprise and equalised from a rebound at a rare penalty corner. To their credit, Cranes didn't panic and went close themselves from a penalty corner when Bloomfield swept just past the post. The game was won with a moment of brilliance - the sweeper cut out Bristow through ball to Johnson but Johnson read the intention to knock the ball past him and picked it up leaving him free on goal.

The keeper was out sharply and the chance appeared to have gone when Johnson was driven wide to the byline on the left, however, an awesome piece of improvisation from Johnson saw him execute a perfect LBZ from such an impossible angle for a goal worthy of winning any match.

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