Sevenoaks 1 Ipswich 0
South DivisionSevenoaks 1 Ipswich 0 For the second week in succession Ipswich were hugely unlucky not to come away with anything after producing an outstanding performance.
Sevenoaks 1 Ipswich 0
For the second week in succession Ipswich were hugely unlucky not to come away with anything after producing an outstanding performance.
The Suffolk side were left devastated after they were unable to gain the point that would have definitely secured their South Division status for another season.
Captain Ivan Smith said: “It was a great performance and I feel pretty hard done by not to get anything from the match. We deserved at least a point, but they took their chance when they had it.”
Coach Ian Gall was equally praising of the side. He said: “It was incredibly disappointing again this week, but we are playing some really great stuff now. It is brilliant to see how much we have developed over the course of the season.”
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Although the match was played in pouring rain, it did not affect the quality of hockey on show. The match was evenly balanced for much of the first half, with both teams attacking with intent and defending solidly.
Asif Rais, back in the team after a two week injury lay-off, was soon in the thick of the action, making an excellent tackle to stop prolific goal scorer Pete Turner just as he was about to get his shot away.
Rais was then injured while trying to collect an aerial pass, with the ball deflecting off his stick and into his head. Despite this, the back line of Mark Wheelhouse, Matt Stainthorpe, Ed Youngman and Max Underwood were not troubled by Sevenoaks, allowing Rais to recover and return to the field.
Teenage wonder-kid Josh Godfrey - playing just his second national league match - came close to opening the scoring for Ipswich when his instinctive deflection from the pass of Royce Waters flew up into the chest of the unsighted Sevenoaks keeper, before the ball was cleared to safety.
Ipswich soon won a penalty corner thanks to excellent play from Mark Wrinch, Ivan Smith and Richard Rutterford, but Will Hearne's flicked effort was just wide of the target.
Sevenoaks had chances of their own, but Tony Burch in the Ipswich goal was in inspired form yet again for Ipswich, blocking a powerful drag-flick from penalty corner expert Turner with just a minute left of the first half.
At the start of the second half, Sevenoaks tried to hit Ipswich hard, but Ipswich defended magnificently and soon the match was back as a finely balanced spectacle.
Ipswich were putting together some stunning counter-attacks, which Sevenoaks struggled to get to grips with, and eventually they started to concede penalty corners.
Wheelhouse and Hearne both attempted to find a way past the resolute Sevenoaks defence from the dead ball situation, but were both denied thanks to impressive defensive work.
The turning point in the match came when right forward Godfrey appeared to win a free hit high up field, but the umpire's view was blocked by another player so allowed play to go on.
Sevenoaks moved the ball across field before passing into the circle for Craig Ross to strike into the corner, much to the relief of the title chasing home side.
Ipswich felt aggrieved, but did not let this affect their performance and immediately won a succession of penalty corners.
After excellent blocks from the first two efforts from the Sevenoaks keeper, Ipswich came close to grabbing an equaliser, with Rich Stainthorpe's diving reverse stick shot being cleared off the line by defender Nick Miller.
Ipswich kept on pushing for an equaliser, but eventually ran out of time, much to the delight of the large number of Sevenoaks supporters who braved the terrible weather.
Due to various other results Ipswich are now safe from automatic relegation, but could still be caught by Robinsons who sit in the relegation play-off spot.
However, Robinsons are six points behind with six points to play for and, with Ipswich having a superior goal difference, it would seem unlikely that the Bristol-based side will catch them.
Gall said: “I will not be happy until it is mathematically impossible for Robinson's to catch us. I believe that if we keep playing as we have done over the last two weeks then we will secure our own safety and will not have to rely on what other teams are doing.”
Ipswich face Firebrands in two weeks time and hope to exact revenge on their opponents after losing 4-2 in the away fixture.