Ipswich Cranes 3 North Walsham II 2

NE14 Hockey East Men's League

Division 4NE

Ipswich Cranes 3 North Walsham II 2

A HIGHLY competitive and at times feisty match ended with Cranes maintaining their position at the top of the table, but only just. Cranes were the strongest team throughout but came very close to throwing points away having established a two-goal lead during the first half.

Cranes were slow to settle and Walsham started well, but the home side still looked most likely to score as they attacked at speed, Robin Johnson's usual calmness in the circle deserting him as several chances went begging. He made amends though, scoring the first by nudging the ball over the line following a saved Penalty corner.

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Cranes then went two goals up, again on the rebound when debutante Colin Roberts struck a neat reverse stick shot high into the net from the left.

After half time, Cranes began to shake - winning possession cheaply in their half, Walsham swarmed forward winning a penalty corner. The resultant move brought a shot that seemed destined for a goal only for an excellent save by Cranes keeper Chris McManus, however the recycled ball went back to the top of the circle and this time the shot was lashed into the far top corner to narrow the gap.

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Moments later Cranes seemed to switch off and were punished again - a long aerial ball finding the Walsham forward unmarked in the circle who slid the ball passed the onrushing McManus. At 2-2 things were heating up and when Cranes skipper Bristow went through on goal only to be hacked violently from behind a penalty stroke seemed inevitable until the captain had a rush of blood to the head and received a yellow card.

Cranes seemed unaffected by the loss of a player and continued to drive forward - the winning goal came when Johnson exchanged passes with Paul Muchal down the right hand side and finished neatly for his second goal of the game and the 18th of an excellent season for him personally. With plenty of time left to play there was still work to be done but Nick Tiley-Nunn and Craig Bloomfield in midfield dominated the play to ensure that there was no further danger and guaranteed the points.

Man of the Match: Craig Bloomfield

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