Andy tries to Cook up escape

MEN'S HOCKEY: Ipswich 2 Nottingham 1. Two vital goals from leading scorer Andy Cook have given Ipswich one final chance of staying in Division Two of the English Hockey League.

By Martin White

Ipswich 2 Nottingham 1

TWO vital goals from leading scorer Andy Cook have given Ipswich one final chance of staying in Division Two of the English Hockey League.

A win in their last game by two clear goals at Oxford Hawks will save the Henley Road side from possible relegation, but to do that they must learn not to squander the chances they create.

Nottingham should have been dead and buried by the interval, but despite relentless pressure Ipswich failed to capitalise.

Richard Fox had three good opportunities but fluffed a couple before keeper Edward Kendall brought off a good save from him just before the interval.

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With Nick Fry prompting most of the moves from the back and Ian Driver giving an outstanding display on the right of midfield, Ipswich were in total control but couldn't find that killer touch.

The Nottingham defence was often at sixes and sevens especially against the pace of Fox, Richard Stainthorpe and Ivan Smith, but a lot of the hard work went to waste.

The visitors rarely got out of their own half and it was no surprise when Ipswich took the lead after 22 minutes.

Fry found Simon Miller with a superb pass and having waltzed round one defender he saw his shot balloon up off Kendall for Cook to apply the necessary finish.

In between, Fox shot wide when well placed and then saw another effort blocked before Kendall denied him with a full length save.

Two minutes before the interval, Ipswich keeper Stuart Hendy was finally called on as the

disappointing Sarpreet Mehat at last passed to a team-mate instead of the opposition, but Guy Gisborne was thwarted by an acrobatic save.

Nottingham had relied mainly on breakaways but their control often let them down and for the majority of the game they didn't seem too interested.

With 16 minutes left, Ipswich gained their sixth short corner and Driver delayed his pass just long enough to fool the substitute keeper and Cook thumped the ball home through David Brewer's pads.

Brewer left the field soon after with Kendall coming back on and Ipswich thought they had added a third when Cook's through ball was flicked past the advancing keeper by Richard Stainthorpe, but his final touch was about a foot outside the circle.

Nottingham woke up in the last ten minutes and decided to make it a nervous one for the Ipswich players and vociferous supporters.

Kalbir Takher, the former England and Great Britain player, saw Hendy keep out his short corner effort but from a similar routine seven minutes from time, Gary Noseley's shot rebounded off Hendy for Gisborne to score with ease.

All at once Ipswich looked ragged and decidedly on edge, but with Andy Swindin, Asif Rais and Paul Calver all making vital tackles, they hung on to fight another day.