Old Loughtonians 1 Ipswich 2
England Hockey League
Women’s Conference East
DEFENDING EHL East Conference Champions Ipswich, could not have started their season better with a hard fought 2-1 win over Old Loughtonians on Saturday. Having not beaten the Essex side for three years and with the last four meetings ending in a draw this was always going to be a tough and close game. However Ipswich proved that they have the mentality of champions by battling from a goal down to secure all three points.
The game started at a frantic pace with both teams keen to get a control of the midfield. Ipswich were not helped by a last minute re-shuffle as midfield stalwart Issy Sheldrake arrived late due to being stuck on the M25 for over two hours. The change in personal seemed to unsettle the Suffolk side and it was the home team that struck first scoring on the sixth minute.
Despite the early setback Ipswich began to find their shape and some good play by Ness Roberts and Jess Bloom saw the away team begin to create chances of their own.
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Some good saves by both keepers saw the score line remain the same going into half time and despite not being on level terms, Ipswich could sense that the game was turning their way. Some tactical changes and reminders from coach James Kingstone saw Ipswich start the second half in determined mood and within 10 minutes they were level. A fantastic passage of play down the right hand side started by defender Kat Wrinch involved Jess Bloom, Hannah Martin and Chloe Hunnable. As they carved apart the Loughtonian defence with ease, it was left for 17-year-old Catroina McDonald to sweep in a pin point cross by Hunnable and claim her first National League goal.
Ipswich sensed victory was there for the taking but with the home side still dangerous on the break the Suffolk side needed to be alert. Some great defending by Annabel Driver and Charlie Anderson ensured that any danger was dealt with and with Bloom, Sheldrake and Roberts dominating the midfield it looked only a matter of time before Ipswich found their second goal.
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The persistence finally paid off on the 58th minute when Ipswich earned a short corner. The first move created several chances but some good saves kept the ball out. The second corner however found its mark. A powerful strike by Anderson from the top of the circle took two deflections and flew into the net. Unsure of who touched it last Captain Emma Millar was credited with the goal by the technical table, but in all likelihood the last touch came off a Loughts stick so Anderson deserved the credit. The scorer however was not what was important to the Suffolk team, all that mattered was that they had the lead they wanted with 10 minutes to go.
Ipswich created several other chances to make the game safe but some last ditch tackles and saves denied them that cushion and a frantic final five minutes ensued. The home side threw caution to the wind and did create a few half chances but Ipswich held firm to take all three points against Loughts for the first time since 2007.
It was a very positive start for the defending Champions and they will be looking to build on that when they play their first home game against Cambridge City this weekend.