Ipswich promise all-out assault

MEN'S HOCKEY: Ipswich are planning an all-out attack as they bid to preserve their national league status at Oxford Hawks on Sunday. A victory by two clear goals will see them leapfrog the university city side and give them a third season in Division Two of the English Hockey League.

By Martin White

IPSWICH are planning an all-out attack as they bid to preserve their national league status at Oxford Hawks on Sunday.

A victory by two clear goals will see them leapfrog the university city side and give them a third season in Division Two of the English Hockey League.

A draw would condemn them to the dreaded end of season play-offs against regional champions striving to play at a higher level and a defeat, assuming Bromley win their last game, would relegate the Henley Road side automatically.

Skipper Asif Rais, who has always steadfastedly maintained that his side will not go down, said today: "This is without doubt our biggest game since we qualified for this league at the expense of Isca.

"Over the last three years the club has worked hard to get to this level and we don't want to see this go to waste.

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"We are going to have to gamble and go for an all-out attack against Oxford with both full backs Andy Swindin and Toby Lever pushing up as much as possible.

"On occasions, that will leave Nick Fry and myself facing their breakaways, but with goalkeeper Stuart Hendy behind us, I am convinced that tactic will be successful.

"My main concern is for all of us to be patient and take the chances when they come our way.

"Hawks have had a good run during the second half of the season, but I firmly believe we have the all-round ability to beat them.

"The last thing I want is for us to go to the play-offs. It has been a long, hard season and we all want to avoid extending it if at all possible.

"There is a tremendous amount at stake on Sunday's game but I still believe we are too good a side to go down."

Ipswich will be missing the services of midfielder or defender, Paul Calver and forward Oliver Didham, but several of the side played in a tournament in Dublin on a water-based pitch over the Easter weekend and that experience will help them on a similar surface in Oxford.