Christmas cracker

IPSWICH welcome Essex rivals Chelmsford to Tuddenham Road tomorrow for the last Slazenger EHL Premier League game before Christmas.Both teams are level on ten points and neither can afford to lose this weekend if they want to keep in touch with the all-important top-two places.

IPSWICH welcome Essex rivals Chelmsford to Tuddenham Road tomorrow for the last Slazenger EHL Premier League game before Christmas.

Both teams are level on ten points and neither can afford to lose this weekend if they want to keep in touch with the all-important top-two places.

Both teams come into the game, which starts at 2pm, after draws last weekend. Chelmsford drew with Slough, while Ipswich drew with Bowdon Hightown.

It has been the inconsistency of these sides that sees them both sitting in mid-table.


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As usual there will be no love lost between these two sides and the final result will probably be heavily influenced by which side can create that special bit of magic.

Chelmsford will be looking to England internationals Katy Roberts, Lisa Wooding and Chloe Rogers to set the tone, while Ipswich will be expecting their international trio of Jo Ellis, Jenny Hall and South African Kate Hector to dominate the game.

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Last season the points shared between the teams, with both sides winning their home games.

Ipswich midfielder Emma Lee-Smith scored four goals in those games and Chelmsford will be wary of letting her add to that tally.

Ipswich will welcome back defender Millie Sharp and striker Sarah Tallent and are buoyed by the news that last season's player of the year, Kirsten Spencer, should make her return from injury in time for the indoor season which starts in early January.

On Sunday, Ipswich welcome Slazenger EHL Premier Division strugglers Doncaster to Tuddenham Road for a fourth round English Hockey Cup tie (12 noon start).

Last season Doncaster knocked Ipswich out of the cup on their home ground and Ipswich will be keen to return the compliment this time around.

A 4-1-victory to Ipswich early on in the league would suggest that this should be an easy tie for the Suffolk side, but Doncaster are never a team to discount and the hosts will have to work for the full 70 minutes if they want to progress into the next round.

Doncaster pose a threat going forward through England striker Jo Ellis, but Ipswich have been defending well of late and should know how to handle such a tricky character.

Ipswich will be looking to enjoy the game and with little pressure on either team - as the cup does not lead to Europe or a play-off place - the game should be fast and free-flowing.

Ipswich will be playing at the unusually early noon start to allow Jo Ellis to attend the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Jo has been invited not only as part of the England team that won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, but also as Suffolk Sports Personality of the Year.

Men's hockey

TOMORROW is Ipswich's final game of the first half of the season in the Slazenger English Hockey League South Division.

For the occasion they welcome strugglers St Albans to Tuddenham Road and will be looking to take all three points from this fixture (start 12 noon).

St Albans sit in eleventh place on the ladder with nine points - one point less than Ipswich, who are currently tenth in the table.

A win for Ipswich here could see them extend the gap over the bottom two to four points, so this is possibly the Suffolk outfit's most important game since their return to National League in 2005.

Judging by the visitors' results this season it seems as though they save their big performances for the big teams.

All of their three wins have come against Whitchurch, Firebrands and league-leaders Old Georgians.

On the flip side they've lost to all the teams Ipswich have beaten, so Saturday's game promises to be a tight fixture.

Danger men for St Albans include the experienced ex-Great Britain international Paul Bolland and

top goal-scorer Ashley Tillet.

Both teams picked up losses in their fixtures last week with St Albans just losing out to Oxford Hawks. Ipswich narrowly lost to high-flyers Oxted 5-3 after leading for the majority of the match.

Due to Ipswich second team's home fixture against Dereham at 1.30pm at Henley Road, the first team have been forced to lose hardman Jimmy Walker and U-16 international William Hearne, but other than that will be at full strength.

n For the latest hockey reports go online to www.eveningstar.co.uk

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