Whitchurch 6 Ipswich 1
Slazenger Men's EHLSouth Division Whitchurch 6 Ipswich 1 Whitchurch avenged November's 3-2 defeat by Ipswich with a crushing and thoroughly deserved 6-1 victory in Cardiff.
Slazenger Men's EHL
Whitchurch 6 Ipswich 1
Whitchurch avenged November's 3-2 defeat by Ipswich with a crushing and thoroughly deserved 6-1 victory in Cardiff.
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Ipswich, who had suffered something of an injury and availability crisis since last Saturday's superb victory over Oxted, were totally outplayed by the home side.
Ipswich captain Ivan Smith said: “For all of our effort and running on the field, we just didn't reach the standard required. It was an incredibly disappointing performance.”
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The result was overshadowed by a worrying injury to goalkeeper Tony Burch, who was struck in the chest by the ball in the 67th minute and immediately suffered breathing difficulties that forced the abandonment of the match.
With just three minutes to play and Ipswich five goals down, the visitors conceded the defeat and focused on the welfare of their goalkeeper. Despite the score-line, Burch had another excellent game, blocking no less than six penalty corner efforts.
Due to injury crisis and school commitments, Ipswich had travelled to Cardiff with just eleven players, a situation that proved to be their undoing.
The trademark high tempo, “in your face” style that Ipswich employ makes excellent use of rolling substitutions, but with no players on the bench, Ipswich soon found this approach unsustainable after an excellent start.
Ipswich were arguably the better team in the opening five minutes, with Will Hearne and Richard Rutterford creating good opportunities, however, the Suffolk side were soon undone when Alex Keating pounced on a loose ball in the circle to open the scoring for Whitchurch.
This clearly settled the nerves of the home side, who firmly grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and, sespite some excellent defending from Matt Stainthorpe, Kier Dixon, Ed Youngman and Royce Waters, Whitchurch were soon two goals up, with Mark Whatling flicking into the roof of the net after a lucky deflection saw the ball land kindly in front of him.
Ipswich tried to pick themselves up and an excellent run from Ivan Smith resulted in a penalty corner, however drag flick specialist Kier Dixon saw keeper Iwan Williams pull off an excellent save, diving to his right.
Royce Waters was green carded for venting his frustrations at the umpire - it was to be the first of four cards that the player would receive during the match - and Whitchurch grabbed their third goal just before half time to effectively kill the match, with Keating again the scorer.
Waters was given his marching orders shortly after the start of the second half for a poor tackle on Whitchurch midfielder Joe Naughalty and Douglas Young scored his side's fourth goal with the best move of the match.
Four soon became five when Joe Naughalty got on the score-sheet, but Ipswich pulled a goal back with a field goal from Richard Stainthorpe after a superb run down the right from Kier Dixon.
Ipswich seemed briefly revitalised and won two penalty corners, but the in-form Whitchurch keeper denied Dixon on both occasions.
Waters returned from his spell in the sin bin in the 58th minute, but quickly returned to his still-warm seat following a truly bizarre incident. The defender tried what could only be described as a tennis smash shot when the ball looked to be sailing over his head, leaving the umpire with no choice but to award Waters a second yellow card and a word in his ear that he would not be returning to the field of play.
Reduced to ten men for the second time, Ipswich tried to play for some pride and resisted more Whitchurch sorties into their half.
Eventually though, Laith El Khatib volleyed a ferocious effort into the ribs of Tony Burch, only for Whatling to tap in the rebound seconds before the match was abandoned.
The result means that Ipswich still hold onto sixth place in the league, with Whitchurch only one point behind them.
Importantly, Ipswich are still eight points clear of the relegation play off spot and nine clear from automatic relegation.
The return of Asif Rais and Mark Wheelhouse from injury, coupled with the availability of school players, means that Ipswich should have a full squad to choose from for next week's crunch game with Kent-based Holcombe, who sit third in the league.
A big thank you to both Lois Panting - who travelled with the team as the manager and physiotherapist - and Whitchurch goalkeeper and medic Iwan Williams who both made sure that Tony Burch received the attention he needed in what looked like a worrying situation.