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Once more unto the breach!

Once more unto the breach!

James Ward18 Apr - 06:52
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The Men's O40s advance and the Juniors continue their tournament progression.

Reports below, a belter from the Men's O40s, more junior progress and a report from the end of the season final W2 match. Last weekend saw the Men's O40s progress to the O40s tier 1 semi-final and saw the boys and girls U14, U12, U10s all either take part in matches or training for the East Regional Finals which 27/28 May at Magpies for U12 / U10.

Men's O40s

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Tuddenham
Strode the 14.
“Forward, the Blue Brigade!
Charge for the D!” he said.
Into the valley of Tuddenham
Strode the 14.

Yet for this battle-hardened band of hockey brethren, it was not to be the end…
Onward they stride to Leamington Spa, one match from Lee Valley and the sacred heartland of this hockey-loving land. JC bravely led his men to victory over the guile and guts of the Harpenden Highwaymen. A new formation, with unprecedented strength in the spine, had set the Blues of Ipswich up to be hard to beat. However, being slow out of the blocks wasn’t in the plan and Harpenden found width and direction from the off. Our 'Viking spy' from the south had reported on earlier meetings with the aggressors, speaking to the might of their core and their ability to drive through our heart.

From the first volley, it was clear they planned to skirt our defences with decisive accuracy down the flanks. Hard work from Dykesy and Baler, on the Blues’ left and right, held them at bay for 20 minutes until their use of space gained them access to the Blues byline and, after drawing our covering defence away from the post, there was little that Jez could do to prevent a far post incursion resulting in an easy tap in. Breach! ….and early on – but the battle was just warming up.

The Blues settled into their new shape with the brothers Walker remaining calm and collected (their middle names :wink:) and Southy starting to find some freedom to attack their D. Surely the beating on the proverbial door would result in an equaliser? But it was not to be (in the first half anyway) with the final line of the Highwaymen’s defence standing strong and proving a worthy adversary to Wardy’s rifle and Southy’s penalty corner flashes.
The ceasefire of half-time provided a chance for the home heroes to regather. Ward’s wisdom was attended to; he strangely resisted the drawing of two swords (sticks) to represent his frustration (if you know Wardy’s half time talk then you know). JC, after lengthy umpire ingratiation chatter (again if you know, you know :wink:), came with a simple message – we carry on, we charge and charge harder. Half a league, Half a league onward!A further five minutes of dual-attack aerial bombardment from Wheels and Wrinch had Harpenden on their heels and, finally, the left-flank of the Highwaymen was exposed – Wardy showed skill but no mercy as he drew the keeper and lifted his shot to leave the keeper grounded.

The momentum of this battle was turning. JC located and shut down his marks, Southy started to spiral out of the double / triple / quadruple marking set-up he had been facing to reach Foxy (waiting in the wings) and Dyksey (legs a blur). They marauded forwards.
The penalty corner count started to amass against the visitors and the shots rained down. Dean, the Viking, was soon to be found in his customary position on the post (young forwards take note!) and Southy flayed a shot to their right flank for him to apply the lethal stroke! 2-1 to the Blues!

Would the wounded Highwaymen stay down??… it was not to be so. Arise they did, to push forward and test the infamous patience of both Walkers. Some wondered whether Matt’s training regime during the week had left him low on energy, despite pre-match assurances that the customary Saturday night hydration had them both fit for battle! As Harpenden broke out from a defensive penalty corner, Jimmy took aim - a swing and a miss - followed by Matt laying down his body on the line, and it was Jimmy for the bin. ‘What me?’ Mistaken identity claim number 74 of the season from a Walker….

With the Blues a man down the Highwaymen advanced, firing a goal-ward bound shot from just outside the D; it was their commander in chief that laid claim to presenting his ‘Russ T’ sword to nick it home. JC, umpire ingratiator extraordinaire, led the ensuing discussions. Surely the equaliser could not stand. However, our ever-faithful Flett (to whom we are ever thankful!), had no VAR to refer to and had to concede allowing the score board to turn over, 2-2! And time running low before the deadly flicks were to be enacted. Would the Blue blades settle for the honours even and luck of the draw?
They would not, onward they pressed and further penalty corners routines were enacted, to no avail. Until, with 5 minutes remaining, another PC win and the Viking injection came forth, up stepped Wardy to receive but was it inside the circle or outside? No matter the slip right, until now a variation untested, to the Wheelhouse, who with time to spare exited the D once more, just to be sure, before stepping in to drive the final goal of the game home and send the crowd wild! TR roared! Was it over? Well not for some and too soon for others. Foxy, learning little from his captain’s example of humility in front of the rule of the law, left the game early with a Yellow to his name. Then the skills of Southy, Wardy and Dykesy came to fore with the corner flags in sight and time ticking down, only for Corporal Dykes to find time to chase after a half-taken 16 and follow Foxy to the bin. But the deed was done, 3-2 the win, and the battle-hardened brethren of Ipswich HC O40s had done enough to live another day.

The blue army marches to Warwick for the semi-final on Sunday. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”

Girls U13

Ipswich took their development squad of U13 girls to the Harleston U14 festival. The squad had put in lots of training including sessions with Felix F and England player Hollie DR. All that training really paid off, the girls were distributing the ball brilliantly and in particular transferring across the pitch; Jemima, Betsy and Lottie trusted each other and really opened up the pitch. The midfield duo of Annabel and Maisie tackled hard and quickly got the ball to our dynamic goal scorers. Annabel and Summer linked really well on the left utilising the space created with Summer then driving the base line hard. Maisie, Izzy and Millie’s experience playing together enabled them to open up the rest of the pitch and score lots of goals. Clara was solid as ever in goal, only letting one goal until the semifinal and her instructions to the defenders really helped keep our shape.The girls won all 6 pool games except a draw with last year’s winner, Dereham. The girls had over an hour break before their semifinal match which showed, they were not quite at their previous level and they lost 2-0 to a mature, strong Harleston, who went onto win the tournament. We take the positives and they agreed to learn from that bit, ultimately they all left having had a great day and lots of fun. A big compliment to them as several of the other coaches said our young team played the best style hockey of all sides. They were passing it beautifully, transferring well and scoring lots of unselfish goals. It was a real pleasure managing the girls, the future is really bright for this young group.

Women's 2s

The Women’s 2s travelled to Cambridge University for their final fixture of the season, buoyed by a strong training session during the week and a sunny day. A delayed arrival meant there was only time for a quick warm up before the start of the match. Despite a rousing huddle speech from Beth, added to by Emma to ‘defend like a hedgehog and attack like an eagle’ (thanks Storm for this little gem!), the team got off to a slow start and struggled to produce their usual fast flowing passing game. The Ipswich defence worked hard to thwart the opposition, but Cambridge Uni eventually took advantage of a disjointed Ipswich performance to score the first goal. After a direct team talk from coach Daley at half-time, Ipswich came back out for the second half with more purpose and pace. A brilliant individual run from Emelia came close to producing an equaliser, but for an outstanding save from the keeper who tipped the cleverly lifted shot over the bar. As Ipswich pressed and played the ball with more fluency, the equalising goal came from joint player of the match, Chloe. The game continued in an even fashion, with both sides awarded short corners and threatening the opposing goal. Unfortunately for Ipswich, a head injury to Captain Beth was quickly followed by the award of a short corner to the opposition, just as the final whistle blew, which was converted into the winner. A deflating end to a competitive season by the team, but with so many promising juniors and steadfast performances by senior team members there is a lot to look forward to next season!

Boys U14 A
W5-3 vs Loughts - excellent result to cap a fine 1st season in the Tier 1 national competition.

Boys U14 B Tournament at Magpies

On a glorious Sunday morning the blue team took to the astro at Harleston to take part in the 7s tournament.

The first game they faced a strong Norwich City with a heavy defeat but the lads kept their heads up. Second and third and fourth games saw their confidence building with some nice possession, some brilliant goalkeeping (many thanks to Luca from IES) and some unlucky decisions making the win elusive.

5th game the tide was starting to turn dominating possession, communication and stick skills but still no win. The stretch team talk was needed which awoke the beast mode and inspired the team to win the 6th game 3-1 and only lost 1-0 in the last game but the club couldn't be more proud. Each game saw the team grow stronger and against tough opposition shows signs of promise for the future.

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