Bury St Edmunds 3rd XI 2 – IES 4th XI 1
After last weeks comfortable victory, IES travelled to Culford to take on a Bury team that had pulled off the surprise result on week 1 in Division 4NE of the East Region Hockey League (in beating Thetford away).
IES lost Dinwiddy (to promotion) and Patel and Simpson to unavailability. But they were replaced by Murray, Sneddon and Wing. The former after inexplicably missing the first league game for a holiday, the latter after a weekend of lifeguard duty and Mr Sneddon – well – your reporter didn’t understand his explanation.
Abbott had been persuaded to double up as GK for the 2nd XI so he undertook the mammoth task of driving to Cromer (for a thrashing) and then to Bury. His diligence and dedication is to be much admired even if the club’s treasurer (Hatch) hadn’t factored such an adventure into his mileage spreadsheet!
Anyway the starting line up was: Abbott, Kiel, Sneddon, Page, Stevens, Sebborn, Trenter, Scarff, Elsom and Whiting. Harvey, Wing, Mills and Williams graced the bench.
The game started and it was a bit one-way. Bury kept the ball and occasionally attacked but didn’t really make much progress. But they were clearly the better side. Bury scored from a slightly scruffy short corner but other than that goal, they created few chances. Having said that ‘few chances’ is a ‘few more’ than IES created. Elsom after his first half hat-trick last week was rather starved of possession – never mind chances.
Half time came and an impassioned oration flowed from vice-capitan Elsom – the gist being “we’ve barely had the ball but we’re still in it”. Capitan Williams, helpfully assured the team that he had no intention of coming on the pitch and that if they kept going IES would get a chance at some point. A second cadre of changes were made at half-time and our bench was then Page, Scarff, Trenter and Williams – and not wishing to be ageist about it, at 202, that comprised the oldest bench in the history of hockey.
But the result was positive, Mills was excellent at right back, Kiel slotted in well on the left and Wing showed why he was so highly rated during the second half of last season. Murray and Sneddon blocked out all the spaces in the middle (as well as any sun-light left) and Harvey linked the mid-field to the attack. Elsom still didn’t get the ball and Whiting used every precious second when he had the ball. Sebborn – well after his heroics last week – he did what he always does (i.e. passed it right – and that means the direction right rather than passed it correctly).
Then a shock – Bury stepped up another gear – and this is where Abbott benefited from his warm up in North Norfolk by pulling off a series of excellent saves. Then a set-back. IES 4th XI had nurtured the first-aid kit well after Blake’s slap dash approach to dishing out ice packs in 2018/19. Mills went down with a knock to the knee and Williams trundled onto the pitch with the kit and an ice pack was reluctantly applied.
To shake up our attack – Trenter following his brace last week – was given a jaunt alongside Elsom. Scarff drifted back to his historic position of left midfield and was heard to mumble some complimentary remark about Sebborn’s ability to pass left (your reporter may have mis-heard it). Then with 5 to go Bury scored a second … and Williams finally had a moment of decisiveness and hauled Sebborn off. On came one knee Mills, and all of a sudden IES had a shot. Although when your reported asked afterwards, Wing did admit he wasn’t sure whether his attempt was a cross or a shot (whichever it was – it was miles wide). Then as Williams predicted (your reporter may be biased – but what a prediction) – IES had a chance and Elsom duly buried it.
Three minutes to go and a barn-storming nervy finish to come. But no – Bury were the better team throughout – and they held on rather easily.
A two-one victory didn’t flatter Bury. But IES were pleased with their commitment and have much to build on for next weeks home game against Norwich City 5th XI (a large crowd is expected for the 11am start).
IESs man of the match this week – well despite the brilliance of both Wing and Mills (who might both have won it in different weeks) – there really was a stand-out contender and therefore the winner. Abbott excelled in goal and his all round club-man dedication on the day gets the award.