Ipswich 1 Old Loughtonians 1
Slazenger Women's EHLPremier Division Ipswich 1 Old Loughtonians 1 Ipswich recorded their first point of 2008 against Old Loughtonians but were left with a feeling of two points dropped after camping in the visitors half for the majority of the game.
Slazenger Women's EHL
Ipswich 1 Old Loughtonians 1
Ipswich recorded their first point of 2008 against Old Loughtonians but were left with a feeling of two points dropped after camping in the visitors half for the majority of the game.
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With Slough crowned as champions after a 2-0 win over Canterbury, the bottom half of the battle to escape relegation becomes the focus of the final three games.
With Loughtonians relegation fate virtually sealed, the fight to avoid the ninth placed relegation play-off spot involves currant occupants Poynton, eighth placed Chelmsford and seventh placed Ipswich.
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Ipswich still sit four points clear of danger but face a tough run in, with games against Leicester, Chelmsford and Bowdon.
Dropping points against Loughtonians has not made life any easier and the Suffolk side will need to rediscover winning ways quickly if they want to avoid any relegation issues.
Ipswich started the game brightly, pushing their opponents onto the back foot and were unlucky not to take an early lead after peppering the Essex team's goal.
With Leisa King leading the striking line it looked only a matter of time before she got on the score sheet but some good goalkeeping and just off target shots kept Ipswich at bay.
The home side thought they had found the breakthrough when a great shot by King was illegally stopped on the line by a Loughtonians' defenders leg but umpire Colin Burton did not see the foul and waved play on.
With the visitors happy to play eleven behind the ball and hit Ipswich on the counter the game was mainly played out in the Essex side's half but, despite the pressure from Ipswich, the teams entered half time locked at 0-0.
Two minutes after the restart Ipswich were victims of another bizarre piece of umpiring. Defender Kirsten Spencer lost her footing while taking a free hit and mis-hit the ball, topping it so it rose a few centimetres of the floor. The umpire blew for a foul signalling that the hit was dangerous, much to the amazement of the Ipswich team and crowd.
Still stunned by the decision Ipswich switched off and a pinpoint cross was touched in at the far post by Miranda Weeks to give Loughts the lead.
Ipswich, to their credit, kept their composure and five minutes later Spencer created the equalising goal. A superb free hit from outside the circle found a diving King who deflected the ball into the goal to make it 1-1.
With plenty of time remaining Ipswich had high hopes of winning the game but the visitors were determined to hold on.
In fact they should have taken the lead again when a sloppy ball out of defence was picked up and passed quickly to create a one on one with Ipswich keeper Charlotte Lee-Smith, however Lee-Smith closed the angles down quickly and the attackers attempted lob landed on the roof of the net.
Ipswich too had turns to win it, a run of short corners probably offering the best chances, but try as they might they could just not get the ball over the line.
The final whistle saw a point shared and with it the news that Poynton had upset Olton 7-1 to close the gap on Chelmsford to two points and Ipswich to four.
Old Loughtonians now cannot catch Ipswich but, with Poynton and Chelmsford still to play in their final games, they will have outside hopes of avoiding the drop.
Ipswich at present remain in the best position of all the teams involved but with such a small margin for error the pressure is on the Suffolk side to get the points needed.
Saturday's home game against Leicester will prove to be a big challenge but the rewards of a victory could be massive.