Double-header for men and women

AFTER a weekend off due to the snow, Ipswich women now have to play two games in two days in the Slazenger EHL Premier League.Tomorrow they travel to seventh-placed Old Loughtonians, who will be keen to recover from the 11-2 thrashing that Leicester handed out to them last weekend, and then on Sunday Ipswich host second-from-bottom Sutton Coldfield, who currently sit in the relegation play-off spot, a seemingly unassailable eight points from safety.

AFTER a weekend off due to the snow, Ipswich women now have to play two games in two days in the Slazenger EHL Premier League.

Tomorrow they travel to seventh-placed Old Loughtonians, who will be keen to recover from the 11-2 thrashing that Leicester handed out to them last weekend, and then on Sunday Ipswich host second-from-bottom Sutton Coldfield, who currently sit in the relegation play-off spot, a seemingly unassailable eight points from safety.

Ipswich sit in sixth place, five points and one place above Saturday's hosts, but the Suffolk team have a game in hand and know that if they win both games at the weekend they could significantly close the gap on the teams above them.

Ipswich are able to select from a full squad and will be looking to gain revenge for their opening day 2-2 draw with their Essex opponents.


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Ipswich were missing four key players that day; South African international Kate Hector had not yet arrived in the country, England international Jo Ellis was recovering from the World Cup, ex-England player Kirsten Spencer was out with a broken thumb and ex-Old Loughtonians player and U18 England star Jenny Hall was away at a GB youth training camp.

With that amount of extra talent and experience to call upon, Ipswich will be confident that they can claim the three points.

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Despite Old Loughtonians' crushing defeat last weekend they will not be a pushover and have a South African international of their own in the shape of Julia Henry, who has scored a third of their goals.

Ipswich though will be keen to seize the initiative and grab an early goal, hopeful that this will unsettle a team that has conceded 21 goals in the last three games.

On Sunday Ipswich play the fixture postponed from last Saturday against struggling Sutton Coldfield. Ipswich won the last fixture between these sides 3-2 but were pushed all the way and will know that they cannot take their visitors challenge lightly.

Sutton and Doncaster are locked at the bottom of the table on three points each, separated only by goal difference.

They are fighting to avoid the automatic relegation place but whatever happens it looks likely that whoever escapes that will be involved in the end of season relegation play-off against the second-placed team in Division One.

With such high stakes involved Sutton will be willing to give their all to get something out of this game and Ipswich must be able to match that desire.

As usual the visitors' main predatory threat is ex-GB striker Jane Sixsmith, and Ipswich will need to be alert to her natural talent for scoring goals.

Ipswich should be able to pick from a full squad, unless there are any injuries tomorrow, and the Tuddenham Road side will be very disappointed with anything but a win from Sunday's game.

THIS weekend the Ipswich men's team make their longest journey of the season for their

double-header weekend.

Tomorrow Plymouth host the Suffolk side, who lie one position above them in the league. Ipswich are currently ninth on 16 points while Plymouth are languishing in the play-off relegation zone in tenth place, with 12 points.

Ipswich are without a number of players and make the trip with no more than 14 players - one of whom, Phil Messant, is doubtful because of a fractured hand sustained while playing for Ipswich School. Asif Rais is also doubtful as he has a mystery illness.The reverse fixture at Tuddenham road saw Ipswich narrowly win 4-3, after having been four goals up.

A win here will put Ipswich firmly in the

driving seat to avoid

relegation and establish the men's section in the National League for the third successive season.

On Sunday Ipswich make the short trip west to take on a skilful Exeter University side who are currently fourth in the table and making a late push for second place.

Earlier this season the students thrashed Ipswich 3-1, a scoreline that flatters the Suffolk side.

Ipswich will be without Richard Evans, their

leading scorer from open play this season, for this game.

The Suffolk side will be looking to bring home at least three points from this weekend.

It's a crucial part of the league calendar and could determine the Suffolk side's future.

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