IES 4th XI 1 – Bury St Edmunds 3rd XI 2

IES took the field for the first time in more than a month in Division 4NE of the Mr Cricket Hockey East Region Hockey League. Last time out – back in autumnal October IES were thrashed at home by Norwich City 4th XI. So would a wintry December afternoon against unbeaten Bury result in a change in fortunes or even a better performance. The pre game anticipation was muted following some awful overnight and morning downpours but the pitch was beautiful and the Gallagher led warm up intense. The start was delayed as an errant umpire who was somewhat prompt (aka late).

Capitan Williams unbelievably kept faith with the 13 outfield players from the Norwich City horror show and Black returned in goal. IES started badly – what is new – although this time Murray stopped the ball on the line with his chin and didn’t score an own-goal. But Whitting slotted home the penalty stroke and IES were behind. Then something strange happened. IES played better. Meades led by example from right midfield and the experiences defensive duo of Murray and Page got things more organised at the back. Elsom – having started his first game of the season – exhorted his team mates to get the ball in the D (some witterings preceded it about it being impossible to score if the ball isn’t in the D). As ever his team mates listened and the ball was fired into the Bury D from various locations.

Short corners came and went – to both sides – then Elsom smashed one and the Bury keeper saved and Gallagher picked up the rebound and shuffled it into the corner to equalise. Both teams rang the changes – Vince came on for Thornton – Whiting for Scarff and Austin for Ramsey and the first half developed into a fairly even end to end affair. 1-1 at half time and IES reflected on their best 35 minutes for some months. The second half though was a slightly different story. IES struggled to retain the ball and Bury stepped up higher and took the lead when an attacker was given too much space to turn and flick the ball high into the net.

IES created few second half chances – and mainly via long crash balls to Elsom and one such chance was scrambled off the Bury line. Capitan Williams took himself and Murray off to give some youth via Williams jnr and Gallagher more pitch time but Bury used their unbeaten record experience to play out time without too much difficulty.

So another defeat – although this one at least involved a better performance. Next week a friendly club match as the Norwich City 3rd XI away game will have to wait till 2021. IES remain in 10th place in the league – hovering just about the relegation zone. As to man of the match for IES – there were contenders to be fair. Murray might have nicked it but for one horrendous second half stick tackle. Vince played his best game of the season. Black made a stand out save in the 2ndhalf. But the award goes to Meades – for excelling in the first half before being illogically rotated off by Capitan Williams.

IES 4th XI 1 – Norwich City 4th XI 10 (26 October 2020)

Yes, sadly, that was the score and it isn’t a typographical error.

But back to the beginning of this sad saga …

IES arrived to their Ipswich School Sports Centre fortress confident that they could see off Norwich City 4th XI who were only one place ahead in Division 4NE of the East Region Hockey Association League. The defence was strengthened with the return of Page, Gallagher came back in too to add midfield spice.

Elsom started on the bench as usual along with Vince and Page. And the match started and, one team began playing hockey. To be fair the first five minutes were fairly even. Whiting gave the ball away and Williams senior managed a tackle. One of those two things didn’t happen again in the match. 

As a bit of an aside – and asides may distract from the playing performance – IESs most avid away match fan has spotted a key Whiting characteristic …. when he loses the ball, he tends to stand with hands on hips staring intently at the nearest umpire. In this game the gaze fell on both umpires a-plenty.

Anyway, thereafter a youthful midfielder dribbled the ball too easily around Williams and IES went behind. Then half time arrived and IES found themselves 6-0 down. Capitan Williams chuntered, Elsom brooded and the team took the field full of confidence – confidence that the match couldn’t get any worse. For some, there was a moment of nostalgia as Whiting wandered onto the pitch at half time with a brolly – the same one as he sported at Newmarket away 5 years or so ago when Murray did a pass of millimetric precision to lead to a goal. In the first half of the Norwich City match – Murray did another first – a back header of an own goal – yes – it is true – your reporter can’t recall mind you whether it was goal 2 … or goal 3 … or goal 4 … or goal 5 .. or goal 6.

The second half – well yes – IES were better. But Elsom’s Theory of Relativity held sway. Gallager scored a great goal – the best of the 11 although sadly points aren’t awarded for such things. But again, IES conceded a few – well 4 and your reporter in a moment of candid honesty would admit that there is no doubt the better team won and the better team deserved to win by a lot. Of particular note was the fact that Norwich’s dominance was predominantly down to the incisive play of three or four of their younger players – who were simply outstanding. 

IES were perhaps unlucky that lockdown came a week after this match – although perhaps lucky that it has started as the next match had been due to be against Norwich City 3rd XI. And if Norwich City 3rd XI had 11 better players than played for Norwich City 4th XI then their club is in fine fettle.

Finally, man of the match for IES. There weren’t many contenders so the winner was Gallagher for his goal (and he played okay (having regard to the Theory of Relativity)) until he hobbled off injured.

As hockey enters lockdown, IES 4th XI find themselves just above the relegation zone and the normal Elsom car bubble are gutted that they are missing out for a month on the education they receive on the long drives to Norwich. It is understood they have covered dinosaurs, plate tectonics, tarmac and methodism so far this season. 

The 4th XI will have lost a collective 3 stone by the time the league restarts…

Norwich Exiles 1st 3 – IES 4th XI 2

This week in Division 4NE, IES experienced their first away trip of the season to Taverham – the first of three this season. Let’s hope it doesn’t become the standard trip. Page and Gallagher dropped out following last week’s near miss against UEA and Austin came back in from the 3s. So that probably marked little change in overall squad rotation with 10 from last week making the joyous journey up the A140.

Long Stratton is now an extra well-known little town as Norfolk County Council roadworks meant it took over 20 minutes to travel a mile at that point. Thankfully the start was delayed due to the previous game over running.

Elsom continued with his place on the bench and the other 11 graced the field of play. In the first three minutes Ramsey ran clear and his deflected shot drifted 14 cm wide of the right upright. Williams snr managed a mazey 40 yard run down the right (he still thinks in imperial measurements unlike your reporter) and won a short corned that eventually led to another and then a penalty stroke as Whiting had a shot saved on the line by a body. Whiting duly despatched the penalty – at the second attempt – into the left centre of the goal.

The rest of the half was pretty even affair with Exiles big squad rotating and Elsom bringing himself on. IES got a tad frustrated at the back but with O’Brien looking solid they held out to half time. One other first half highlight being the first drop ball in hockey memory following a substitute transgressing onto the field of play and stopping the ball with his foot.

At half time this was a game to win and IES started the second half confidently hoping that Scarff, Vince and Williams jnr would keep up their good work of the first half and that Murray and Thornton could continue their excellent partnership. But sadly the momentum shifted and IES struggled defensively to cope with the extensive advantages played following fouls and Exiles equalized with a stunning penalty corner strike. 

Then as Austin and Elsom came short to receive passes, one went astray much to Elsom’s chagrin and as IES stood waiting for the whistle to their benefit, Exiles marched upfield and were awarded a penalty stroke following a tussle between Thornton and his opposite number. It was duly converted. This was the moment when the massed crowd expected IES to capitulate but the pendulum swung again and with Meades and Scarff dictating play IES got back on the front foot. From another penalty corner, WIlliams snr fed Scarff who drifted around and bobbled the ball into the corner wrong footing the player on the line.

Less than ten minutes to go and all to play for. Thornton somehow found the benefit of the umpires doubt and avoided conceding a penalty corner for a ‘tackle’ his team mates believed to be a foul but then with 4 to go Exiles quickly switched the ball to their right-hand side , found space and had the poise to beat O’Brien to edge back in front,

There was still time to equalise but IES didn’t so it ended 3-2 again on the road. Man of the match – well Vince had his best game of the season, Thornton slotted in well in the middle, Scarff played well and Ramsey continued to develop. But the award goes to O’Brien, who, despite not being mentioned much in the above, played with confidence, made a number of solid saves, was much stronger in his defensive organisation, and had no real chance with any of the goals.

Next week could well be in the must win category. The league is starting to divide into top and bottom half’s with IES in the bottom half (for now). But, therefore, winning home games against other bottom half teams will be the bed-rock of the season. And next week is one of those – Norwich City 4th XI – before tricky away game against high-flying Norwich City 3rd XI (at Taverham of all places). 

West side of Norwich teams certainly have an advantage in travelling terms in Div 3NE with three teams based at Taverham, one at UEA and one at Dereham – and Norwich Dragons isnt that far away too …… it’s a long-distance league for some … especially Colchester 2nd XI – although their 17-0 home win against struggling Thetford may sustain them for some weeks. Historical stat of great interest … Williams (snr) and Scarff once got promoted out of Div 3SE when playing at Ipswich as a consequence of a 17-0 win against a Havering team that forgot their goalkeepers gloves – Scarff scored 27 goals that season …. (circa 2002).

IES 4th XI 1 – UEA 3rd XI 3

After the close but ultimately disappointing defeat away at Dereham, IES 4th XI hosted the 100% win rate UEA students at the Ipswich School Sports Centre. Simpson dropped out of the squad and Page came back in. Black was promoted so O’Brien was back in goal. Gallagher joined in too for his first game of the season. Gray arrived to coach the side and learn a few tips to transfer to the first eleven. As normal Elsom started on the bench – as did Vince.

IES started very positively and had the better of the early exchanges. Ramsey and Gallager led the line and both Meades and Scarff had their best quarters of the season – with Meades very nearly getting on the end of a Williams crash ball. But then with their first chance UEA scored with a brilliant finish from the top of the D. Heads could have dropped in the IES team but they didn’t. As it wasn’t raining this week Elsom brought himself on early and following a Williams (jnr) dribble down the left, a quick Gallagher pass saw the Maestro unleashed with one to beat. He quickly pushed it by the young student and if he’d have eyes in the back of his head, he’d have been dismayed to see his team turn away in despair thinking there was no way he’d get the ball first. Elsom used all his guile and won the race and then smashed in an equalizer from a stupidly narrow angle and IES were back in it.

Sadly, as the first half wore on the students youth and 16 man squad started to gain them the upper hand – especially when the Williams (snr) and Whiting central midfield double act started to tire. A naff second goal was conceded just before the interval as IES failed to clear their own D. O’Brien also made a stunning save after a defensive error.  At half time, the Capitan was rather positive and thought it was IESs best half yet and with the potential to use wisdom over energy a point or three was still possible. It was also inspiring to have Gray’s tactical input and Elsom’s impassioned diatribe. 

What of the second half. Well substitutions continued with clockwork regularity, although why Gray elected to leave Capitan Williams struggling in midfield for the whole game is beyond both your match reporter and most of the rest of the planet. The students were maybe lucky to be ahead at half time but they did rather dominate the 2nd half. The defence competed manfully, O’Brien made quite a few decent saves and IES kept up hopes of an equalizer. But it wasn’t to be and IES didn’t really create much in the 2nd half – the only real output and hope seemed to be the potential of Ramsey to run down the right. UEA scored a scrappy third as Williams (snr) was turned and the ball squirmed into the net. 

3-1 it ended and IES will drop down the league a bit from 7th with a trip to Norwich Exiles ahead next week.

Man of the match – well it was probably the best a few of the team have played this season – Gallagher obviously, but also Scarff, Thornton and Meades and possibly even Williams (snr) (although his standard in previous weeks had been poor). Others played well in patches as well and it was the best team performance so far this season. The man of the match though goes to Meades who excelled in the first quarter and stuck to his tasks at right midfield valiantly throughout the match. Exactly what Gray learnt to take to the first XI is anyone’s guess … 

IES 4th XI 2 – Dereham – 3

Dereham away brings shivers to many a spine. The pitch is slow, it’s a long way from Ipswich and IES 4th XI invariably lose the match and some precious elements of the away changed strip. Would the 2020 version be any different? And it wasnt any different in terms of palaeontology – the Pulham dinosaur was still standing proud (all be it without scarf). 

Well after picking up points at home against Thetford on the preceding Saturday, the squad changed again. The SS were drafted back in (Scarff and Spurling) and TB was experienced again (Thornton and Black). These four were combined with Williams 1 and 2, Elsom, Whiting, Vince, Ramsey and Murray. And just to make up the numbers we experienced the MP shuffle – Meades replacing Page.

The warm up was surprisingly productive and the match started in glorious Norfolk sunshine with the Maestro Elsom in jovial mood on the bench. Shortly thereafter the rain started and wow it did pour. Elsom used all his experience and found a brolly and then even greater common sense in refusing to come on until the deluge ceased. By that time IES were 1 down. Williams jnr deflected a ball high into his own D and Williams snr deflected it backwards rather than stopping it, Thornton did likewise and Dereham knocked it in leaving Black with no hope.

Dereham continued to dominate the first half but last gasp defending, some decent keeping and some poor finishing kept it close. At one point Whiting decided midfield was too much for him so he engaged in pointless discussion with one of the umpires – pointless because debating issues with an umpire isn’t to be advised and pointless because the umpire was clearly right. Then after 25 minutes the rain stopped and Thornton got cramp and the Maestro found someone to put down his brolly for him and appeared on the pitch – just in time for the half-time team talk. Our hardcore fans also reappeared from sheltering in their cars. Why, if you have driven for 90 minutes, do you decide to sit in your car rather than stand out in a monsoon watching your son play hockey, is beyond your reporter. Your reporter would have found the nearest coffee shop instead.

Anyway, the half time talk was about the team still being in it and the importance of returning all the away blue kit after the match. The second half started and the sun shone. And IES improved markedly. Vince slotted in well at right back and Ramsey linked well in midfield. The Scarff and Williams jnr left side stitch up continued dynamically and Meades and Whiting were diligent in the middle. Elsom and Simpson demonstrated that the skill required at centre forward is all about the timing of the run and Murray coped with the ineffective Williams snr rather than his normal mate Page at the back.

Then Capitan Williams made a mistake – almost a fatal one. He positioned Whiting at right post on a defensive penalty corner. Whiting stopped the ball – waited an age – and let the centre forward amble up and knock it in from a foot. At which point Whiting decided to move from embarrassment to impetuosity and swiped at the ball in frustration. He missed the ball – his stick slipped out his hand and flew hard and fast across the D and very nearly decapitated Murray – who at the time was inspecting the spot from which he’d scored an own goal in the 2019 version of Dereham. Anyway 2-0 it was and all was safe and Whiting unusually apologetic. 

Then IES improved – the pressure is off when you are 2 down. And a slew of penalty corners were won. Elsom was in charge and was in military history mode. He scored one with a passable impression of Barnes-Wallis and then a bit later did the hockey verion of the Maginot Line and set up Scarff for a tap-in. Sadly, between the two – Dereham scored a third – courtesy of a Williams jnr own goal.

With 5 to go IES pressed and pressed and actually played pretty well. But despite crosses from the right, chances from penalty corners and no little effort the equalizer didn’t come. And the match finished in a 3-2 loss and with a long trip in sopping wet kit back home. Where it was then discovered that all 24 socks were present and accounted for – so much so that Williams very jnr counted 25. 

IES started the day in 7th – lost and finished the day in 7th. How’s that for odd. Next week a nice easy home game against top of the %age table, UEA 2nd XI. Plenty of running required – that doesn’t bode well for 80%+ of the team.

As to man of the match – Black played well, Whiting wasn’t bad (other than decapitation – gate), Meades had his best game this season (and is another year older and didn’t nick any socks this year) – but the award goes to Murray. He played well – didn’t score an own goal – and still had his head despite Whiting’s best efforts.

IES 4th XI 4 – Thetford 1st XI 1

For those with a fondness for 4th XI memorabilia, you will recall saga’s around this match in the last couple of seasons. Last year’s narrow victory was secured by Klug – seconds after he’d accidentally despatched one of the Thetford players to A&E. The year before Reid (J) was on fire and was the nadir of Blake’s hockeying career. The common themes to those games were the fact that the 4th XI were – unusually – playing on the main Ipswich School Sports Centre pitch (they are normally banished to the far out of sight one) and that IES struggled to cope with Thetford’s Talisman – bandana wearing Rees. 

As IES gathered in a socially distanced manner the team discovered that only one theme completed its hattrick – and thankfully it was the choice of pitch – the bandana was nowhere to be seen.

On to less prosaic issues – the squad. Black, Austin and Simpson were promoted and Scarff, Thornton and Meades were unavailable. The Maestro Elsom worked hard on the free transfer and loan market all week and with a bit of help from his friend he secured the services of O’Brien, Conway, Pineo and Gaffer – all of whom were making their 4th XI debuts. The Capitan and Gaffer played in the same Ipswich team in Prem B prior to the birth of most of the 4th XIs match day squad – but that is another story that isnt really relevant to anything much.

And – the Capitan – with his usual style – took positional advice from Elsom and did the opposite. He also asked Conway where he normally played – was told he was a defender so decided to play him at centre forward. This may have been a career defining master-stroke for Conway cos he revelled in the opportunity.

And the match started – in the dry – which with Storm Alex around was a miracle. O and other useless stat – this was the first 4th XI match in the Capitan’s time in charge where there wasn’t an S in the team – no Scarff, Sebborn, Simpson, Sneddon or Spurling. The rest of the squad being the normal bunch of Elsom, Murray, Page, Ramsey, Vince, Whiting and Williams (*2).

The opening exchanges were cagey with IES having most of the ball – including a 17 pass move from the initial push back. Eventually Pineo smote home a penalty corner. Then he conceded one and after an initial decent save Thetford equalised on the re-bound. The Maestro then brought himself on and following a sublime bit of skill from Whiting (he missed the ball but it wrong footed the whole Thetford team), Elsom buried a sitter and IES entered the half time break 2-1 up.

The Capitan observed that keeping the ball might be helpful and that when 2-1 up the next goal is often crucial. So IES actually did what was asked and scored the next goal. Whiting made a 40 yard run – without the ball – for the first time since the 80s – and arrived at the top of the D in time to stop a pass from a flowing move down the right involving Conway, Vince and Ramsey. Whiting found he had about 3 hours to shoot and took about 2.5 of them but lo he buried it from the top of the D and turned to pass out with exhaustion prior to celebrating. Plenty of penalty corners were won and it is debatable as to who led the worse routine – Pineo or Elsom. But with about ten minutes to go the IES defence started to get nervous because Murray hadn’t yet scored his obligatory own-goal but Page, O’Brien and Williams (1+2)) helped him out and then Ramsey capped a fine performance with his first 4th XI goal. Somewhere in the 2nd half, Gaffer picked up a green card for the sort of tackle he tended to get away with 20 years ago – probably cos green cards didn’t exist back then.

So 4-1 it finished and IES Mens 4th XI secured their first league win of the season and the men’s club first league win against opposing clubs this season. Amazingly IES have now reached the heights of 7th place in Division 4NE and have the delights of Dereham away next week – a Dereham side sitting in 10th place but a team that always performs strongly at home on their slowish pitch – the site of which – last season included Sneddon’s back ‘pass’, Williams’ whacked knee and – has it been mentioned before (?) – Murray’s best ever own goal.

A 1.30 start awaits whatever team is put out – your reporter confidently predicts a different squad and one with an S in.

Finally, man of the match from Thetford game. All 4 debutants played well – but they were all disqualified for being debutants. Which doesn’t leave many. Vince and Murray had their best games of the season (so far), Whiting continues to play well, Williams (jnr) and Page were solid again – the Maestro and the Capitan are building into the season and can be expected to play well at some point. So the winner is Ramsey – he ran well, linked play neatly, did plenty of good runs down the right and capped a fine performance with a goal – and it was his – and one or two others in the squad – first league victory in nearly 2 years of week in week out hockey.

IES 4th XI 0 – Sudbury 2nd XI 5

After an 8th place finished for IES 4th XI in the 2019/20 season in Division 4NE of the Eastern Region Hockey Association League, the world responded to Covid-19 and in the UK organised sport was permitted to commence in time for England Hockey to sanction a move to Stage 5 of their Covid plan in time for the league season to start on the 26th September.

The world was a different place and the IES squad was much changed too – although the changes didn’t directly relate to Covid-19.

Spurling was promoted to the third XI – as was Sebborn – and if our regular readers would stop laughing at this point we will progress.

Anyway, on the first Saturday of winter the newly formed IES 4th XI squad took the field against Sudbury 2nd XI (one of only 5 other teams thatt retained their place in Division 4NE). Some stalwarts remained – Capitan Williams, Murray, Page , Scarff and Whiting alongside the Maestro Elsom from the start of the 2019/20 season plus Black, Meades, Simpson and Vince who were post Xmas regulars. New faces included Austin, Ramsey, Thornton and a 2nd Williams. For some new faces this was a step up – for Thornton it was a clock re-wind.

Despite having a 14 man squad – and a delightful socially distanced warm up IES – noticed that Sudbury had even more players. And the match started. IES were soon 3-0 down – a well struck short corner and bouncing ball shot and a deflected effort making the match an uphill battle for the home team. But IES got stuck in. Meades made an awful tackle and escaped censure as the play moved on prior to the umpire finding a card. Elsom appeared on the pitch – did anyone notice – his daughter was playing away and so there was no ‘go dad’ call to alert his team mates. Ramsey sparkled and had IESs sole first half shot.

At half time it was learnt that the Maestro’s passionate orations don’t stir to the same degree when people are stood 7 ft apart (that is 2m plus to our metric readers). The 2nd half started and IES actually got back into the game. Williams managed an aerial – Whiting twiddled – Page intercepted – Ramsey ran some more (if only the rest of the team could). Short corners were won (2 of them). The first WIlliams crashed into Scarff’s foot. Scarff complained that Williams put the pass in the wrong place. The 2nd one Williams put exactly where Scarff had demanded it – and yes – you guessed it – he (Scarff that is) missed it completely.

Williams was then done for pace skill and everything else you can think of and stumbled innocently into the opposing player and picked up a dodgy green card – and this isn’t a moan about the umpiring – cos most thought it deserved a yellow. As it happens the team defended better without him. And then the Sudbury 4th. O dear …….. our more committed followers may recall Dereham away in 2018 when Murray scored an own goal he spent the rest of the season talking about. It won ‘own goal’ of the year in the 2019/20 seasonal awards. This year he repeated the trick in game 1 – although if your reporter is honest it wasn’t as great a finish as the Dereham one. And then Black and Murray got a bit tangled on the line to concede a 5th – to Sudbury’s nimble centre forward – in the last two minutes.

So 0-5 it finished and the better team clearly were victorious. Results elsewhere make interesting reading and the ever positive Whiting has already christened next week’s home game against Thetford as a relegation 6 pointer. When you’ve got friends like him ……. etc etc.

Turning to man of the match, this is an award the Capitan is normally asked by your reporter to dish out on a weekly basis. But he is a bit concerned about nepotism (that’s got half the squad scrabbling for their dictionaries) so he asked the Maestro to make the decision. The maestro chose Williams jnr – whereas, the Capitan thought Page and Ramsey were the leading contenders.

Next week, Thetford at home – and as crowds aren’t allowed – our readers dont really need to know it is a 4pm start. It isn’t yet known whether bandana wearing Rees will be part of the Thetford squad which may influence selectorial decisions around Blake’s availability for IES.

IES 4th XI 1 – Harleston Magpies 4th XI 7

Week 21 of Division 4 NE of the East League and a match against top of the table Harleston. IESs sponsors, Ellisons Solicitors, were out in force to watch the 4th XI – including taking in the performance of one of the countries great legal minds (from a rival law firm). Harleston had secured promotion in advance of the game with Sudbury beating Bury St Edmunds in an earlies game – so they could afford to lose the match!

Inevitably the IES line up changed again. Page had recovered from his bad foot. Reid and Farrow were drafted in from higher up (alternatively known as being unavailable for an away game). Barber came in for his 2nd game of the season and people dropped out for a variety of reasons – Spurling, Russell, Arthur and Williams jnr for away games and Black to run around London on some board game challenge that didn’t involve alcohol (why one wonders!). Anyhow the starting line up was Barber, Kiel, Murray, Page, Farrow, Vince, Trenter, Williams, Whiting, Reid and the Maetsro. Meades started on the bench. Capitan Williams decided to try another line up experiment and tried 5-3-2 and again took the somewhat deluded view that he might be up to playing in midfield.

The first half saw a battling committed IES team hold out fairly comfortably against Magpies – despite Magpies dominating possession. Capitan Williams enjoyed his personal battle against McTiffin and Bensly (M) in midfield although as the half wore on Magpies greater numbers (2 more) started to tell – although some might allege their greater quality was a factor too. Two slightly soft goals meant it was 0-2 at half time. By this time Meades was on and Kiel played a 5 minute cameo at centre-forward showing Ried and Elsom that movement does help. Lascelles and Bensley (J) scored the goals.

Some tactical half time tweaks by Capitan Williams returned Kiel to defence, Vince to midfield and saw Farrow take responsibility for danger man Bensly (M) – a relative of Bensly (J) one assumes. The 2nd half wasn’t so successful – IES kept going manfully. But so did Magpies. Farrow’s 70 yard aerials kept arcing through the sky – and from to time IESs nimble strikers got to the ball. Sadly though amidst the aerials, Bensly (M) scored 4 and Livings another. But the highlight, following a scramble or three, IES won a few short corners and a penalty stroke. The latter led to a stand-off at the ‘not so ok – coral’ between Elsom and Reid. Who was going to take it? There was only one winner and as Reid slunk out the D, Elsom stuffed it down the centre at a loopy waist height and the keeper moved out the way (in sympathy maybe).

Not a lot happened thereafter – Reid took himself off – due to the need to get to a birthday party allegedly and not – as rumoured – in a huff as a consequence of penalty gate. 7-1 it finished – and arguably the score line flattered Magpies but they were certainly the deserved comfortable winners. As the table unfolded – East Coast’s promotion was also confirmed – to the delight of Whiting (he doesn’t like sand) – and Ipswich eased out of the relegation zone in their final game meaning Norwich City need a result at Sudbury next week to avoid the drop. IES remain in 8th and a win away at Thetford against bandana wearing Reece and co will result in a 7th place finish if UEA can beat Dereham away.

Turning to the final element of the report. Your reporter interviewed the Ellisons’ representative at length before the game – who had turned up specifically to watch the Maestro having heard so much about his game over their long acquaintance. Sadly – and astonishingly – he’d left before the end (with Reid maybe?) so an assessment of Elsom’s performance will have to wait till another time. Player of the match, Page again did well, his feet acting as magnets to the ball in the second half, Whiting wasn’t bad (compliment 4 of the season), Capitan Williams ran further than he has done for years but the award goes to Meades. In a really tough game, he played 75% of the game at right back, showed maturity, no little skill, got physically stuck in and demonstrated the faith that the team has placed in him this season was more than justified.

Next week the winners of the first 4th XI awards of the season will start to be doled out. Meades and Black are competing for “most improved player”. There is half a chance that Elsom will win “top scorer” and a 99.99% chance that Simpson will win “WhatsApp message” of the season – although the runners up spot in this category is open to new entrants. Other less obvious awards (“lamp stand impersonation” of the season maybe) are to follow at the team end of season event on the 4th April.  Murray remains in leading spot for “own-goal” of the season. Trenter, Vince, Harris and the Maestro are vying for “goal” of the season – but your reporter has hopes that that award will be won next week – Scarff is rumoured to be returning after all. “Strop” of the season still has Whiting at East Coast in the lead. “Match report” of the season – well that could well be Dereham away. Blue socks anyone? There’s still a missing pair …… which means that Meades might yet avoid  the “thief” of the season award.

Sudbury 2nd XI 6 – IES 4th XI 1

IES 4th XI had soared to 7th place in Division 4NE of the East League for the first time since part way through the autumn following the – Elsom inspired – thrashing of 10 man Dereham. Sudbury away didn’t bode too well as it marked the return of the blue socks and the return match of IESs worst home performance of the season. Numerous changes were made – in fact Paul Lambert would have been proud. Sebborn missed his first match of the season – and surprisingly he was missed. Page came up with some podiatry ailment but thankfully didn’t share photographic evidence. Jones was inevitably missing and Reed too. In came the returning Arthur and Meades – the latter reminiscing about his affection for the blue socks. Williams jnr stepped up to make his 4th XI debut.

The first half was a bit of a blur. It was marked by Elsom dropping deeper and deeper and surpassing Sebborn for aerial acumen as he dispatched one over his left shoulder and off the pitch. Murray went back to kicking it and Capitan Williams was simply useless. Not a lot else happened other than Sudbury scored 5.

Now for our massed readership what followed was maybe predictable. Maetstro Elsom ranted … your reporter recalls ‘disgusting’ being the most used word and the Capitan took a more positive tone – extolling the fact that it couldn’t get any worse and that avoiding a thrashing was now the aim. And remarkably the second half was much better. IES packed the midfield – Spurling took on the dynamo role (not that challenging really when your midfield comrades are mainly Whiting, Elsom and Trenter). Arthur, Vince and Russell provided energy up front and if Kiel and Williams jnr had got a bit more support from Murray and Williams snr then Black may not have been called on so often. But Black shone in the second half conceding just the one. At one point Spurling twiddled and took on a Reed like appearance (with a bit of pace – to be fair) and beat 7 before tapping a fine individual goal passed the astonished keeper.

What happened thereafter is mainly down to the Maestro. On the voyage to Sudbury he had regaled Williams jnr with stories of the first match he’d himself played with Elsom jnr when the older jnr had received a yellow card much to Elsom snr chagrin. So Williams jnr took this on the chin – and stopped a ball rather too obviously and deliberately with his foot and he saw yellow. Sebborn is pleased he is now not the only 4th XI recipient this season. And of course the blue sock debacle goes on. Someone has stolen a pair and Williams snr is now awaiting the DNA test results on the 11 pairs he has – in an effort to discover the culprit.

And back to the point, IES dropped back to their normal 8th place following Dereham’s home point against Bury. Next week a tricky home tie against Magpies. Your reporter is hoping that Whiting excels like the last Magpies match (that may be the third compliment of the great man and its taken 20 match reports to get to it). Of course the greater aim is to gain a point or two (the latter being a particularly daft aspiration with three points given for a win and one for a draw). Player of the match – well Black was good in the second half, no one was great in the first half – in fact no one reached mediocre in the first half. But the award  simply has to be granted to Spurling – who stepped up and produced his best 4th XI performance yet (maybe bottom of the diamond is his position).

Week 19 Review – IES 4th XI 7 – Dereham 3rd XI 2

IES 4th XI had clung to 8th place in Division 4NE of the East League for some time as they gathered on this blustery wet Saturday for the return match against Dereham. Dereham away was a seasonal highlight. Trenter had scored a goal of the season contender. Murray had scored Dereham’s goal of the season. There was Sneddon’s ‘pass’. And above all there was the tale of the blue socked dinosaur, Meades’ pilfering and Williams’ knee lump. O and the match had ended 4-1 to Dereham and was game 5 of the acclaimed 7 match losing run.

The squad changed again – your reporter has that phrase saved for the match report every week. Jones was playing his first consecutive match since the decade before last. Whiting appeared in the hat but joyously to play rather than manage this time. Reed wandered back in, Oliver came in in goal for his 4th XI debut and most surprisingly of all Trenter professed mid week that his knees might be up to it (maybe he recalled his away goal). Those 5 joined the normal ‘recent’ bunch of Murray, Page, Williams, Sebborn, Kiel, Vince, Russell, Spurling and the Maestro.

The pre-match warm up took place in a darkened hall – it being too cold and wet outside. The match started with Dereham confessing to only having 10. That didn’t bode well. The last time IES lined up on the far home pitch against ten men they duly lost 4-0 to Watton. Look what happened to them!

Back to the match. The first ten minutes didn’t inspire from an IES perspective. Dereham’s crash ball style worked effectively aided by the fact they had two pacey and physical forwards who ran ran  and ran. Williams and Page aren’t so hot at the running. The latter is dragged into that sentence so as not to pick on the Capitan too much. ‘Be kind’ is the much used catchphrase of late – one that Elsom lives by. Dereham took the lead via a powerful – although fairly straight – short corner. Then IES woke up following three substitutions.

Your reporter is sure it is a coincidence that improvement took place at this point – but with Sebborn and Whiting watching IES stepped up and Trenter – yes Trenter – played a delightful square ball to Jones who swept in his first goal since 2008. Reed then twiddled a bit and knocked one in from close range.

Then our next goal of the season contender. This one was caught on video although the camerawoman seem transfixed by one participant so we have no idea what actually happened. Vince ran from his 23 collected the ball just outside the other D and drove in and smashed a shot in at the keepers near post for his first ever 4th XI goal.

What else happened in the first half you might ask. Well Trenter fell over, Elsom missed a bouncing attacking aerial in the left corner, Trenter fell over and Elsom missed a bouncing attacking aerial in the left corner. Then of course the Maestro scored – not missing a bouncing ball in the D – he smote it powerfully into the net to make it 4-1 at half time.

Over-whelmed with emotion – i.e. not being used to being 3 up at half time – Capitan Williams led the positive half-time chit chat. Elsom observed that the ball still needed to be in the D for him to be able to hit it. Williams changed the line-up taking off both central defenders and playing Sebborn in defence and handed over to Reed to add something insightful – Reed then helpfully pointed out that the 2nd half was about to start and maybe the IES team should get ready.

Were there highlights in the second half? Well, Elsom scored a short corner, Reed twiddled again and scored a reverse stick paddle. The front three kept forgetting whose go it was to go off. So Williams came on at centre forward. And the comedy moment of the year, Whiting received the ball on the half way line with a two on two position with Elsom. Elsom made his normal 5 yard run. Whiting ignored him and pushed the ball 15 yards passed the first man and set off in pursuit. Time stopped. Elsom stood with hand on hips watching. The Dereham player back tracked pushing his zimmer, collected the ball and for reasons only Whiting can fathom – passed it to Whiting, who stopped it, controlled it and decided to off-load it aimlessly before anything else happened. By this time Elsom had finished his strop and walked to his normal position at the top of the D to find the ball arriving and 7-1 it became and Elsom duly completed his 3rd hat-trick of the season. Your reporter knows if he has got this stat wrong then Elsom will shortly notify him of the fact. Whiting normally gets in contact via his legal team led by the hirsute Andrew.

Then Williams lost the ball, blocked his opponent from speeding away and took a rest on the side with a green card. Dereham then scored the 9th and final goal of the game.

But 7-2 it ended and no such score-line had here-to-for –  been dreamt possible by the IES team – other than in defeat by Sudbury in November. Next week – yes – Sudbury away.  Probability of Jones playing his 3rd match in a row —- 1,000,000,0000,000 to 1. IES rise to 7th and are now statistically safe from the bottom 2. 8th place is now looking the most likely finish. Anything higher will require an away win or two – with next week’s game at Great Cornard being an ideal opportunity to notch the second away win of the season.

Finally, man of the match. Despite not yet being mentioned in any of the above – this was probably Kiel’s finest match of the season and quite possibly Murray’s. Vince was a contender for his goal and The Maestro for his hat-trick. On balance, though, the award – for his reverse-dextrality when playing numerous positions well – and for keeping a clean sheet whilst playing alongside Sebborn in central defence (only for 15 minutes admittedly) goes to Murray.