Ipswich 3 Chelmsford 6

Slazenger England Hockey League East ConferenceIpswich 3 Chelmsford 6IPSWICH men's first team were relegated from the Slazenger England Hockey National League thanks to a 6-3 home defeat against Chelmsford.

Slazenger England Hockey League

East Conference

Ipswich 3 Chelmsford 6

IPSWICH men's first team were relegated from the Slazenger England Hockey National League thanks to a 6-3 home defeat against Chelmsford. Despite dominating the first 30 minutes, Ipswich were unable to break through the Chelmsford defence and were punished by the visitors who scored three times in five minutes before half time, effectively killing the contest.

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Despite a valiant effort in the second half from the home side, it was Chelmsford who deserved victory and secured their place in the National League for another season. Ipswich will begin planning next season's assault on the East Hockey Premier League with the aim of getting back into the National League as soon as possible.

A solid start from the home side was greatly appreciated by the 200 spectators who came to Tuddenham Road to cheer on the home side, with Josh Godfrey, Keir Dixon and Ivan Smith causing the Chelmsford defence serious concerns. Seventeen-year-old Godfrey was a constant menace down the right hand side of the field, but the Chelmsford defensive line thwarted the numerous Ipswich attacks through solid tackling and fine goalkeeping. Despite having almost all of the play, it was Chelmsford who took the lead when Shuhel Malique was given time and space to drive into the circle and shoot, forcing Ipswich keeper Tony Burch into a great save before Josh Mepham tapped in from close range.

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The goal had a devastating effect on Ipswich, and Chelmsford took full advantage of their shell-shocked opponents, quickly adding another two goals before half time through Australian import Geoff Mills. Not for the first time this season, Ipswich had conceded three goals in quick succession, and had just 35 minutes to overturn the Chelmsford lead and save themselves from certain relegation.

After strong words from Ipswich coach Iain Gall, the side came out in the second half with all guns blazing. Richard Stainthorpe went close to pulling a goal back following an excellent overhead pass from defender Mark Wheelhouse, but Chelmsford keeper Carl Wright made a solid save to deny a goal. Ipswich were piling on the pressure, but it was Chelmsford who scored their fourth to destroy any dreams of a fight-back when Adam Hunter expertly deflected in a penalty corner. Ipswich were not prepared to give up the ghost just yet, and pulled a goal back when Ivan Smith crossed into the circle from the right for Stainthorpe who cleverly deflected the ball beyond under the body of Chelmsford's Wright. Chelmsford responded immediately and moved into a 5-1 lead through a Geoff Mills penalty corner, completing his hat-trick, but Stainthorpe again gave the crowd something to cheer about when he scored a penalty corner of his own minutes later.

Despite this goal, the game - and Ipswich men's status as a National League outfit - was all but over, a fact confirmed by Chelmsford's Josh Mepham who made the score 6-2 with eight minutes left to play. Ipswich continued to play with spirit, determined to leave the field with their heads held high, and scored the best goal of the match when Geoff Reid beat three players before casually flicking the ball over the keeper to complete the scoring.

Ipswich captain Ivan Smith could not hide his disappointment, but accepted the fate suffered by his team. “We were brilliant for the first 20 minutes, and looked like a really top class hockey team. However Chelmsford defended well and it was always going to be tough for us when we conceded three goals just before half time. We just have to accept that we were not quite good enough this year, but aim to come back even stronger next time.”

Ipswich Men's first team would like to thank everyone who turned out to support us on Sunday. It was most appreciated by the players and coaching staff.

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