Ipswich 3 Holcombe 3

Slazenger England LeagueConference LeagueIpswich 3 Holcombe 3IPSWICH men secured a well-deserved point against Holcombe HC of Kent, but were left dreaming about what could have been.

Slazenger England League

Conference League

Ipswich 3 Holcombe 3

IPSWICH men secured a well-deserved point against Holcombe HC of Kent, but were left dreaming about what could have been. The home team was 3-1 up with less than 15 minutes to play thanks to goals from Keir Dixon and a brace from Ivan Smith, but Holcombe produced two late goals to claim a share of the spoils. The solitary point was enough to lift Ipswich out of the relegation zone, but three points would have put some daylight between themselves and Chelmsford and Peterborough who both currently occupy the relegation spots.

Ipswich began the match at a furious pace, committed to putting Holcombe's star studded line-up under intense pressure. In the fourth minute, Ipswich's Richard Stainthorpe robbed the ball from Holcombe's Yasser Khan deep in his own half before teeing up Geoff Reid, who showed some magical skills down the left to win a penalty corner for his side.

Set piece expert Keir Dixon took full advantage of the situation by launching an unstoppable flick just inside the left post to give Ipswich just the start they needed. Holcombe immediately went on the offensive, with England and Great Britain trio Andy West, Dave Mathews and Simon Ramsden all keen put Ipswich in their place. However, it was Ipswich who went further ahead when Mark Wrinch set up Ivan Smith for a close range finish in the 20th minute. It was a great moment for Wrinch, who had only been on the field a matter of minutes after replacing the injured Stainthorpe. Holcombe pulled a goal back two minutes later when South Africa international Ryan Ravenscroft turned the ball into the goal from close range, but Ipswich re-established the two goal cushion in the 25th minute when Smith expertly rounded the keeper and flicked the ball into the unguarded net to claim his second of the match.

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The large crowd at Tuddenham Road had expected a mauling from Holcombe, but Ipswich had proven that they were more than capable of getting a result from the match and began the second half with the intention of killing their opponents off. Despite this approach, Ipswich faced a more organised Holcombe unit, who were determined to head back to Kent with something to show for the efforts. Holcombe won a succession of penalty corners, but some impressive goalkeeping from 18-year-old Fred Whitfield kept out shots from Mathews and Ramsden, two of the finest corner experts in the country. The Ipswich defence was also having an outstanding game, with Mark Wheelhouse in particular looking like a player finding both form and fitness. Eventually though, Holcombe managed to get the breakthrough when Yasser Khan deflected a Ramsden penalty corner beyond Whitfield in the 58th minute, setting up a tense final 12 minutes. More resolute defending from Ipswich followed, with Max Underwood and Ed Youngman both making crucial tackles, but a Simon Ramsden penalty corner level the scores with four minutes left to play.

“It is so easy to be disappointed with the result at the end following our performance today, but before the match I think everyone would have been really happy with a point”, said Ipswich coach Iain Gall. “The first half was by far the best performance I have ever seen from this Ipswich team, so there are is so much to be pleased about.”

Next week Ipswich travel to Chelmsford knowing that a win would put themselves six points clear of their local rivals, whilst a loss would be a massive boost to the survival hopes of Chelmsford. However, Ipswich will be boosted by the welcome return of England junior internationals Jonny Gall, Josh Godfrey and Mickey Franklin.

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