Ipswich drawn towards drop

HOCKEY: Ipswich 2 Havant 4. Ipswich need to get their act together quickly if they are to avoid getting sucked into a relegation struggle in Division Two of the English Hockey League.

Ipswich 2 Havant 4

IPSWICH need to get their act together quickly if they are to avoid getting sucked into a relegation struggle in Division Two of the English Hockey League.

The fluent and confident brand of hockey they produced in their first season at this level has disappeared almost without trace and at times against a slick Havant outfit, they looked like total strangers, unsure of where to go and what to do next.

Their defence was too often pulled apart by a rampant attack who were well supported by an alert midfield and it needed several outstanding saves by Stuart Hendy to keep the scoreline respectable.

However, Hendy must take the blame for Havant's third goal, five minutes before half-time, when his uncharacteristic error allowed Max Festge's shot to go in under his left boot.

Andy Cook made his first appearance this season at first team level, having dropped out of the reckoning due to family commitments, but sadly his gallant efforts were rarely matched by his team-mates.

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Although the pace of the game may have been faster to what he is now used to in Division One of the Printwize East League, he chased, harried, tackled and covered almost every piece of the Henley Road pitch.

He was denied a second half goal when the ball thudded into Tom Skinner's pads, had another disallowed and saw a third shot go agonisingly wide of the far post.

It was a performance others would do well to emulate and he showed the sort of passion that has been absent from some of their other games.

Havant looked a classy outfit, but Ipswich often made it easy for them with misplaced passes, defenders out of position and a general reluctance to run with the ball.

Ipswich went behind after 11 minutes when Andy Lloyd put the finishing touches to a simple but effective move involving Jimmy Fox and Andy Cornick, but Simon Miller equalised seven minutes later with a glorious low shot that beat Skinner.

Havant were soon regained the lead when Toby Lever was robbed by Festge and Hendy was forced to save from Ben Allberry. Ipswich then failed to clear their lines properly and within seconds Lloyd had again found the back of the net.

Back came Ipswich as a pass by Andy Beresford was stolen off Craig Ellis by Richard Stainthorpe and the blond striker streaked away before thumping the ball across an on-rushing Skinner and into the far corner.

Five minutes from half-time, Havant took the lead for the third time through Festge and this time they didn't look back.

Although Cook, Miller, Stainthorpe, Richard Fox and Ivan Smith all saw chances either saved or go narrowly wide during the second half, they could not get back on terms.

With 18 minutes left, Andy Swindin lost the ball on the halfway line to Derek Cunliffe and his first time pass found Tim Davenport who sent a rising shot thundering past the helpless Hendy.

Twice Havant were reduced to ten men, but Ipswich failed to take advantage on either occasion and, as a result, paid the price.