Gorleston 5 Ipswich Cranes 0
NE14hockey East Men’s League
CRANES travelled to Gorleston with a squad plagued by injuries and unavailability, necessitating a number of positional changes across the team. Wade and Sutherland received late call ups from the 2nd XI to help fill the gaps caused by the five missing regulars.
The match started brightly for Cranes with Tiley-Nunn linking well with Johnson down the right hand side, causing early difficulties for the Gorleston defence. Sadly possession was turned over too frequently by Cranes and, after 10 minutes of play, turnover ball allowed a speculative Gorleston shot from the top of ‘D’. Keeper McManus had the shot covered until it took a wicked deflection off Jones’ stick, wrong-footing the diving McManus and planting the ball firmly in the roof of the net.
Undeterred Cranes continued to press forward. A robust challenge in the centre of the park ended influential midfielder Bloomfield’s involvement in the match and held up play. In the resulting reshuffle Cranes lost their momentum. Gorleston reacted strongest after the break in play and, with the aid of a number of dubious tackles which went unpunished by the umpires, a period of dominance by the home team began, broken only by a quick break between Bristow and Johnson ending with Bristow trying to find his strike partner instead of electing to shoot when clean through on goal. Despite being under the cosh the scoreline remained 1-0 at he break.
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The second half began with more strong tackling on and off the ball by Gorleston, and their pressure told in a series of penalty corners. Gorleston then scored a contentious second goal following a wild “swing and miss” by a forward which forced Wade to take evasive action. The umpires waved play on and Gorleston duly netted; Cranes’ protests were waved away. Gorleston followed up by winning a penalty stroke as a strike from a penalty corner hit a defender’s body on the line. McManus read the stroke correctly but was unable to get his hand to the flick and Cranes trailed 3-0.
Discipline began to break down on both sides, and Cranes felt aggrieved at the number of decisions which began to go against them, especially after MacIntosh received a card for a comparatively innocuous challenge. With tempers fraying, a Gorleston defender saw yellow for a cynical tackle on Johnson just outside the 23 metre area which prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity. Bolton received a green card for a wild, swinging tackle and a second Gorleston player was sin-binned for dissent. Tiley-Nunn then spent the final 18 minutes of the game on the sidelines for a tackle barely comparable to a number in the match.
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With Gorleston back to a full complement of players Cranes struggled in the final stages of the game. A second penalty stroke was awarded to Gorleston after McManus charged off his goal-line and played the ball, colliding with the aging forward afterwards. Disagreement between the umpires was not enough to save Cranes from the decision and the Gorleston player stepped up to calmly slot home his second flick of the game.
After missing the softest of tap-ins at the back post, Gorleston scored their fifth, a cross bravely converted by the forward, stepping in front of the onrushing McManus and deflecting home from a tight angle.
The final whistle brought to an end a hard-fought and physical match which Cranes will need to learn from ahead of the visit of undefeated league leaders Sudbury this coming Saturday.