Harleston 0 Ipswich 1
England Hockey League
Women's East Conference
Harleston 0 Ipswich 1
IPSWICH claimed the bragging rights in this Norfolk Suffolk Derby and top-of-the-table clash with a hard fought 1-0 win over Harleston Magpies. The win saw Ipswich move two points clear of second placed Sevenoaks in the East Conference and stretch their unbeaten run to nine games.
Ipswich started the game in dominant fashion and, despite a large crowd cheering on the home side, it was the visitors that had the better of the opening period. Issy Sheldrake, in particular, was having a great game and dominating the middle of the pitch.
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The hosts though were determined to take the game to their rivals and soon were beginning to create a few half chances.
With the game finely balanced it was the Suffolk side that struck first in the 16th minute. Some good attacking play by ex-Harleston player Jess Bloom earned Ipswich a short corner and Charlotte Anderson stepped up to dispatch a perfect strike to make it 1-0. It was Anderson's second National League goal and as it turned out also the match winner.
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Harleston seemed rather shell shocked but despite the confidence of the goal Ipswich still could not find their top gear and the game descended into a bitty battle for possession.
The second half saw Ipswich begin to step up to another level and a good opening spell should have seen the Suffolk Club extend their lead, but Anderson's second strike from another corner was cleared off the line by a Harleston player.
At this point the heavens opened and the heavy rain, that turned to hail, forced the teams off the pitch. A 10 minute respite saw the weather move on and the sides re-emerged keen to get on with the match.
Ipswich seemed to have maintained their focus the better and started with a real purpose. A superb run by Lizzy Aldous from right back, set up a great opportunity for an easy tap-in in front of goal but the resulting effort flew wide and the home side breathed again. A third penalty corner again tested the Harleston defence, when a shot by Vanessa Roberts was well saved.
With time ticking on Harleston threw caution to the wind and started to press the Ipswich defence. However Charlotte Anderson, Amy Tippen, Lizzy Aldous and Annable Driver were in imperious form and dealt with any attacks with ease. In fact such was the composure in the Ipswich defence that Mariette Rix, in goal, was only called upon to make one save all match.
With five minutes to go Ipswich were reduced to 10 players as Jess Bloom was shown a yellow card but despite some desperate attacks by the Norfolk side, Ipswich held out for the win.
Whilst not a vintage performance Ipswich battled well and with only one outdoor game remaining before Christmas the Suffolk side know that they are in the place that every other team would love to be.