Ipswich 1 Harleston 0
English Hockey League
Women’s Conference East
IT was another weekend of twist and turns in the EHL Conference East with all top three teams dropping points.
Ipswich lost 1-0 to Harleston, Surbiton lost 2-0 to Old Loughtonians and Sevenoaks drew 1-1 with Horsham.
The outcome sees Sevenoaks and Ipswich level on points at the top of the table but the Kent side has a better goal difference. Surbiton are now in fourth place four points behind and Chelmsford move into third also on 25 points.
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Ipswich went into the game missing three key players (Lizzy Aldous, Vanessa Roberts and Millie McWhirter) and at times the lack of depth in the squad was evident. Yet despite that the home side know that they should have turned their greater possession into goals but their Norfolk rivals grabbed an early goal and then defended that lead with real determination.
After a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives in Christchurch New Zealand, the game started at a frantic pace. Both sides keen to make an early impression and it was ex-Ipswich player Emma Lee-Smith that set the early running, taking advantage of some poor marking to create a shooting chance that was well saved by Caroline Stuart in the Ipswich goal.
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Despite the early warning signs Ipswich were once more guilty of a lack of communication and on the 14th minute another good run by Lee-Smith saw her pick out an unmarked team-mate on the right hand side of the circle. The final shot was well placed and went past the leg of the wrong footed Stuart.
Ipswich to their credit re-grouped but despite some patient play at times round the back the midfield and forward line were very guilty of running the ball into channels and not getting any outcomes.
Ten minutes before half time saw Ipswich finally get a better pattern of play and they were unlucky not to get a corner when the umpires missed a blatant foot in the circle.
Half time saw the team reminded to keep switching the ball and to get better outcomes. Spurred on Ipswich started the half well. Anni Broster working tirelessly up front and player of the match Kat Wrinch mopping up any possible breakaways in defence.
Ipswich time and time again created some great hockey up to the attacking 25 but could not find the necessary outcome. However eventually the home side won their first corner of the game and Jess Bloom had an attempt from the rebound but it was cleared by the covering defender.
Harleston were now happy to sit and counter attack and they won another corner but it was dealt with well by Ipswich and the home side looked to attack again.
With time running out Ipswich Captain Emma Millar had an ideal opportunity as the ball fell kindly to her in the circle, but her shot was at the keeper and the chance was gone.
The final whistle saw Ipswich slip to a third defeat this season, yet despite the disappointment of recording a loss after having so much possession, the Suffolk side are still very much in the hunt for another league title.
Next week the team travel to Chelmsford for another tough match.