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.