Indoor English Hockey League
A YOUNG and relatively inexperienced Ipswich side battled valiantly in the final weekend of the English National Premier Indoor League, but despite their best efforts the Suffolk side were one of the two teams relegated to Division One for the 2011-2012 season.
Saturday was the toughest day of the weekend as the team not only had to cope without coach James Kingstone, who had work commitments but also with the injury of their captain and most experienced player, Lizzy Aldous in the warm up. Aldous took no part in the weekend and there is little doubt that her presence could have changed the results significantly.
Despite the setbacks Ipswich were determined to give their all and they started their first game against Sutton Coldfield in buoyant mood. However the experience of ex-GB star Jane Sixsmith was too much for the Suffolk team and she led Sutton to an 8-1 win over them. The scoreline would have been much closer but Ipswich took the gamble to take their goalkeeper off at 4-1 down to try and get something from the match.
The second game was a tough test against finalists Bowdon Hightown. Ipswich though refused to lie down and put up a great fight, making Bowdon really work for their 7-3 victory.
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Sunday morning saw Ipswich left with one last chance to survive in a do or die game against another team that made the final Reading. Reading were able to field a side full of current England and GB stars and most teams would have been over awed by the occasion. Ipswich though showed their character and took the game to Reading, taking an early lead. It was an amazing display from Ipswich and Reading looked at a loss. Then an extremely dubious yellow card saw Ipswich down a player and the Berkshire side took their chance to score two quick fire goals. Ipswich though never gave up and only some amazing saves by GB keeper Beth Story and the width of her post kept the Suffolk team out. Chasing the game Ipswich took off their fantastic young keeper Fiona Stacey and in the dying seconds Reading scored their 3rd goal to run out 3-1 victors.
Knowing that they were officially relegated it was hard for Ipswich to pick themselves up for their final match but a derby game win against fellow relegated Chelmsford was enough to make sure Ipswich departed the Premier League with pride.
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The Suffolk team left it late to record their 3-2 win but there was no doubt that the whole team gave their all to record victory. A special mention must go to Annabel Driver, Vanessa Roberts, Jess Bloom and Fi Stacey who were outstanding all weekend and played the majority of all games.
Ipswich now re-focus on the outdoor league and their number one aim of defending their league title and winning promotion to the outdoor Premier League. The league resumes on February 5 with a home game against fourth placed Sevenoaks (2pm Tuddenham Road)
Premier Division Results: Ipswich v Sutton Coldfield lost 8-1, Ipswich v Bowdon Hightown lost 7-3, Ipswich v Reading lost 3-1, Ipswich v Chelmsford won 3-2.