Felixstowe 2nd XI 3 – IES 4th XI 5

After the 4th XI club record of seven straight defeats was shattered last week, hopes were riding high for the visit to the seaside against Felixstowe 2nd XI in Division 4NE of the East League – especially following the vanquishing of the same team at the start of the season. After considerable practice at his shots during the week Simpson was sadly missing along with Klug who is still searching for his match fee – so Brown and Knight endeavoured to cover for them. Reed breathed a sigh of relief that he didn’t have Whiting behind him – as the great man professed injury and offered his management services. Meades returned in his place.

The warm up was epic – Elsom decided he was too old, injured and suffering from tooth ache to start – and factored in too – how clever – that someone had to be a friendly face on the side for when the manager finally got around to arriving. The starting line up was therefore Black, Kiel, Williams, Murray, Sneddon, Sebborn, Brown, Reed, Scarff, Meades and Knight. IES started brightly for a change and were soon challenged by having a short-corner with no Elsom on the pitch. Reed struck it, a deflection followed and it hit the Felixstowe defender straight in the face. Thankfully he was wearing a now fractured mask and lasting damaged didn’t ensue. Brown despatched the resulting penalty flick with aplomb.

Now the difficulty with writing match reports 48 hours after the event is that your reporter is forgetful and cant quite remember the order of events that occurred next. At some point, Felixstowe crossed from the right, Black saved the first shot but the re-bound was duly buried. At some point the maestro brought himself on for Meades. At some point Whiting arrived. At some point Williams made his 4th tackle of the season. And at some point Elsom scored a brace of far post snaffles. 3-1 it was at half time.

Elsom was delighthfully sanguine in his half time team talk, predicting that Knight would soon open his club account. Little did he realise that Capitan Williams was going to take him off and put Meades back on. The Capitan observed that the next goal was crucial. Brown, in reverence maybe agreed with the Capitan and the 2nd half started and – yes you guessed it – Felixstowe scored with another re-boaund off Black.

But whilst some might be nervous at 3-2, not Meades, and despite never having scored in adult hockey, he showed maturity and experience to bury his first ever adult goal from about 2.5 feet. A distance Scarff might be proud of. Williams, Sebborn, Sneddon, Murray, Kiel and Knight looked on with jealousy as they are yet to score this season. Actually Murray didn’t really look on cos he turned to celebrate his first assist since the reign of Queen Victoria – only to find that Brown was doing up his laces and missed his best mates moment of glory.

Now, if Mrs Murray is a reader of these match reports she may wish to enquire of her husband as to the plan he hatched with the aforementioned Brown to dissuade her from the appropriateness of the much needed new lighting system in their living room. Anyway, we digress, thereafter Elsom completed his 2nd hat-trick of the season against Felixstowe. Maskless Murray ducked on the line and deflected the ball in (again) to make it 5-3 and Knight broke his stick. The only other things of interest in the last 15 minutes were the never ending cry of “Your too high” from Whiting (one doesn’t know what drugs he thought had been partaken and a cameo master-class at right back from Scarff – who repeatedly looked to pass to Reed – and with mind boggling deception, flexible wrist work and cunning – passed it by Reed and up the line – time after time after time.

And 5-3 it ended.

Player of the match, in your reporters view there were 4 contenders, Murray for much improved footwork and his assist, Brown for a reasonable debut, Meades for his debut goal and the maestro for his hat-trick. The award though has to go to Meades – you only ever score your first goal once! One assumes he was rewarded with pizza for tea.

So at the Christmas break – 12 points from 12 games. 10th place in the league but closer to 4th than 12th and all to play for in the last ten games.

IES 4th XI 3 – Thetford 1st XI 2

After seven straight defeats it was perhaps fortuitous that the visitors  to Rushmere this week were Thetford 1st XI. Last year the home game victory against Thetford was the highlight of the 4th XI season and the nadir of Blake’s hockeying career. Anyway despite strenuous efforts by Capitan Williams to secure Blake’s services for this game he preferred the thought of Pelicans away with the 3s.

The squad changed slightly with Meades and Simpson unavailable and Wing promoted. Klug and Reed made up the numbers along with the usual bunch of mis-fits. Your reporter enjoyed a fine curry in the Maharani before the game to celebrate Swindin snrs (aka Pidge) 50th birthday. Stalwarts from other clubs were also in attendance and – when being asked to describe Reed’s hockey in a single work – Bury St Edmunds legend Calver managed ‘pirouetting’ and Sudury and Ipswich legend Palmer managed ‘uncoordinated gate’ – seemingly oblivious to the fact that that isn’t a single word (but never mind).

There was concern on the morning of the game that it might be frosted off. There was greater concern when the team received a picture of Whiting in his slippers in bed as a morning motivator. Anyway the maestro Elsom inspected the pitch and all was fine. Capitan Williams decided to stick with the same 5-3-2 formation that worked so well at Magpies the previous Saturday whilst suggesting the wider two of the 5 could play a little higher and – with his normal tactical acumen – he identified Thetford’s danger man – bandana wearing Reece.

So the match started and it soon became clear that Kiel and Whiting took Williams’ advice literally and played as advanced left and right wings and the Thetford danger man was (a) dangerous and (b) not the bandana wearing Reece. He was lightening quick, skilful and had pitch awareness – and bluntly too good for IESs flagging midfield. However Thetford took the lead from an aerial that was mis-judged by both Whiting and Williams. IES then equalised – and your reporter would like to take credit for this. First Sneddon tackled, then he ran about 30 yards bypassing Whiting and passed the ball up the line and a while later (although Sneddon is still trying to claim an assist), Scarff demonstrated that your reporter doesn’t know what he is talking about (see 16th November match report) by burying a reverse stick bobbler in the corner.

Then with Klug brought on to add some dynamism, Thetford stole forward and outpaced the IES defence (not that that is tricky) and re-took the lead. At this point it became clear that Elsom’s pitch inspection hadn’t factored in the special meteorological conditions that surrounded Whiting all afternoon – every time the ball went near him it hit an icy patch and ended up evading the Elder Wand and going off the pitch (who’d have thought he could go from the sublime against Magpies to the ….)

By half time though Elsom had done what he does best and scored and been subbed. 2-2 it was at half time. This was the first time since the opening day of the season that IES weren’t behind at half time. Capitan Williams changed the formation to 4-4-2 to take advantage of Sebborn’s legs and Klug’s dynamism and to clip the wings of Kiel and Whiting and revert Murray to his favoured left back spot. Reed slowly got into the game and didn’t pirouette as much as anticipated. His telepathic connection with Whiting amazed many. Midway through the half Elsom took a ball on the left wing, did someone for skill and accelerated away – ‘Wow Dad’ echoed around the pitch from one of the hearty crowd – who afterwards claimed she’d never seen the maestro run so fast or so far. Shame it ended with him pulling his calf.

Then as Murray and Klug stitched up the left side of the pitch and Sneddon continued his 70 minute chat with the Thetford centre forward – Klug’s clearance caught a Thetford player in the head and after a lengthy stoppage, a trip to A&E followed – for stiches one assumed. IES took advantage of the man advantage and it was Klug who netted the third with a swept finish from the top of the D. IES then – surprisingly – didn’t sit too deep. But with Whiting back on their were one or two nervy moments as the pitch in his area failed him again.

3-2 it finished and IES broke their defeated run. For some – Murray and Sneddon spring to mind – it was the first win of the season. IES remain 10th in the league and sit 8 points clear of bottom and only – when the impact of Watton’s surprising home game concession against Ipswich filters through the table – 7 points off 4th.

Player of the match this week – well there were a number of contenders but the award goes to Black. Despite not being mentioned above he made a number of fine saves – particularly in the first half – his calling is improving and it did mark his first ever win in adult hockey.

Next week – the final game before Christmas – an away trip to vanquished (on the opening game of the season) Felixstowe. Elsom will be hoping to repeat his hattrick from September and Murray will be hoping not to play kicking back like last years equivalent fixture.

Harleston Magpies 4th XI 5 – IES 4th XI 1

The mood music for IES in advance of this match wasn’t great.

Harleston Magpies stood proudly in 2nd place in Division 4NE having won every home match comfortably and IESs away record was just as consistent – played 4 – lost 4.

After a tough selectorial week where the squad was trimmed to 12 with Sneddon and Stevens rested and Harvey and Abbott promoted, Capitan Williams was cheered to find 9 of the squad at training and less cheered when Whiting contacted him to say he’d tweaked his achilles in a mixed match on Thursday and wondered whether he’d be up to playing. Most of the squad wondered that about Whiting on the average week – it must be professed. Anyway this led to a tactical master-stroke of playing Whiting in the position he felt he’d least need to run in.

So the starting formation was switched to 3 – 3 – 2 – 2 and Whiting played the right of the higher three with Kiel returning on the left. The other starters were Black, Page, Murray, Williams, Sebborn, Scraff, Wing, Meades and Elsom – and Simpson graced the bench. Our spectator core reached 5 – our normal away game fan – Simpson snr (Mr) – and Trenter and his knees.

Worryingly the Magpies squad looked strong with Cobbold gracing the middle and former IES player Cole up top. But IES raced from the blocks and looked a different team – together, committed and up for the fight. Magpies had plenty of the ball in the first quarter but created little. Their edge of the D free-hits orchestrated by the aforementioned Cobbold created problems but, this week, IESs midfield realised that defending was part of the job-description and they were rebuffed. And when the defence struggled, Black stepped up to the plate. Sadly after about 20 minutes the defence leaked and Black couldn’t mop it up and IES went behind and quickly conceded a 2nd. But then a short corner was won and – for a change – IES had someone backing up when it went wrong and Whiting saved the day.

Now, we have re-introduced Whiting to the report. By now he had tackled, hit and tried a collection of aerials – some of which defied gravity and others where gravity never came into play at all (for the slow among our readers – that meant the ball never got into the air).

Then IES won another short corner – and Elsom despatched it right into the left corner. Simpson snr will be uploading it onto you-tube shortly and Elsom will overtake Rogan Josh in his social media influencer battle. 2-1 it was at half time. It was unusual to experience a team behind being so happy at half time. The positivity was astonishing and – yes it is true – even Whiting appeared happy. Murray was beside himself with excitement that he’d only kicked it twice all half.

More was required and more was provided but sadly whilst IES kept going valiantly Magpies stepped it up a gear. Williams gave away a penalty flick with an awful ‘tackle’ on Cobbold and then produced an air shot of hilarity (for others). Whiting and Wing had the right side sown up – other than when two goals were scored at the left hand post. Kiel rotated with Elsom and Sebborn remained steadfast in the middle (whether that is good or bad isn’t really clear). Scarff even looked happy for a change when playing left of Sebborn and Meades and Simpson provided energy up top.

Despite the score-line ending 5-1 and Magpies being deserved winners this was the best IES had played in months. Wing, Whiting, Murray and Black undoubtedly had their best games all season (maestro Elsom was quoted as saying “It’s the best Whiting has played in 20 years”) and others weren’t far behind. Man of the match was a close run thing but fell to either Whiting or Black and the award went to Whiting (on the grounds that he’s never merited an Elsom compliment before, he promises never to run again and also for his adroit chat up lines of the two young ladies in the bar – the highlight – regrettably – of the whole trip for the youngest spectator).

Next week a tricky late home game against Thetford. It is rumoured that Blake may be in for his first 4th team game of the season following his ‘success’ against Thetford last year (Elsom is happy to play bodyguard / minder / diplomat again). But a win would be the order of the day to break the 7 game losing streak and to ease away from the relegation zone.

IES M4 Match Report – Sat 16th Nov

IES 4th XI 2 – Sudbury 2nd XI 7

Some games are strange and this was one of them ……

Sudbury 2nd XI visited Rushmere for this Division 4NE match and if you’d have watched the first hour you’d have thought it was a close match with barely a goal in it at the end. And yet …….

Anyway, back to the beginning. The missing blue shirt and socks were returned. The miscreant will remain nameless although when called a ‘bit of a tea-leaf’ by maestro Elsom, the baffled look the maestro received explained all that was required – i.e. in relation to the general educational time-lapse gap between the maestro and the miscreant. The Elder Wand, Whiting, Stevens and Kiel returned and the bench was kept warm by Kiel and the late arriving Wing. The starting line up was Black, Murray, Page, Williams, Sneddon, Sebborn, Whiting, Scarff, Stevens, Meades and Elsom.

The first half was a novel affair – part predictable (i.e. conceding from an attacking short corner) and part unpredictable (i.e. IES scoring a goal – the first first half goal since the opening day of the season). Scarff found his calling at top of the diamond – if only he could find his reverse stick shooting boots or line-up the shots for the side that he can hit the ball on. Whiting was majestic – the pre-match ‘did I leave my astros in Turkey’ panic may have focussed his mind. What else happened – well who knows – but the score was 2-1 (down – of course) at half time.

Elsom’s oration was remarkably positive – drawing attention to the more positive attacking intent that had abounded. Capitan Williams tweaked the line up and all was positive going into the second half. IES predictably conceded a third but then another Elsom master-piece (the ‘through the keepers legs’ type of mastrpiece) got the score back to 3-2 going into the last quarter and IES were on the up. But lo – it ended 7-2 as IES went backwards, imploded and conceded a series of soft goals. Is a close 7-2 defeat better than another consolation goal in a 4-1 defeat … answers on a postcard.

There were probably only three contenders for player of the match. Elsom for his brace, Black for his heroics in goal (despite the 7) and Scarff for his best game of the season. On balance the award goes to Scarff … Thereafter it is rumoured that Williams may have demonstrated that he is much better at umpiring these days (when doing the M2 game) than he is at playing his beloved sport.

And most bizarre stat – despite starting the match just out of the relegation zone – by better goal difference – and thereafter getting thrashed – IES will find themselves three points clear of the drop when the table is updated to reflect Ipswich’s concession against Norwich City. Next week – a tricky away game awaits against high flying Magpies and IESs proclivity for defending deep may actually be required! But Capitan Williams is rumoured to be considering a new tactical formation.