Ipswich Cranes 2 Lowestoft Railway 1

NE14Hockey League

Division 4NE

Ipswich Cranes 2 Lowestoft Railway 1

THIS was a far from vintage performance from Cranes but two goals from Craig Bloomfield were enough to take the points and take them another step towards securing promotion. It was a hard fought game with a lot of action in the middle of the pitch, drawing plenty of effort from the Cranes midfield as Nick Tiley-Nunn and David Bolton closed down with Paul Muchal and Alex Bull providing options out wide.

In truth though, the game could have been over within minutes. Robin Johnson set up Craig Bloomfield but the angle got away from him and he could only find the side netting, moments later Bloomfield again smashed a shot straight at the Railway keeper. Almost immediately after this, Johnson's tricky run brought him bearing down on the keeper - a pass to Bloomfield would bring a certain goal but his decision making let him down and the chance was gone.

Railway started to find a foothold in the game and were stretching the Cranes defence, Leon Jones and Tim Macintosh were being drawn all over the pitch and several times sweeper Phill Larbey had to step in and tidy things up. At the other end Johnson again was causing problems, breaking through the backline via a brilliant pass from Muchal and rounding the keeper only to miss the target as his quest to score his 30th goal of the season went on.

It was the last significant chance that came his way for the rest of the game. No matter, with the usual source of goals dried up it fell to Cranes stalwart Bloomfield to prove the difference. Nick Tiley-Nunn won a penalty corner that was slipped to Paul Muchal on the right who found Bloomfield for a tidy finish. Railway were undimmed and continued to threaten and when Cranes conceded possession in midfield, punishment was swift. They broke in numbers and Chris McManus was able to keep out one effort but not the follow up and the scores were level at half time.

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The second half opened up at a similar pace and with 10 minutes gone Cranes won a penalty corner that Bloomfield drilled straight past the keeper to re-establish the lead. Railway wouldn't give up and with a sharper penalty corner routine may have caused the Cranes defence more problems, as it was Andy McManus and Phill Larbey organised the defence well enough to see out the game, although Chris McManus was called upon to make an excellent diving save with his pads when a goal looked likely - a well timed locker check also contributing to his all round performance between the posts.

Cranes have six games to play and require a maximum of seven points to secure promotion and eight points to go up as Divisional champions - having played all of their immediate rivals twice they will need to ensure that there are no slip ups, especially when they travel to bottom placed team Bury St Edmunds next week.

Man of the match: Leon Jones