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.