Ladies' first win so close

HOCKEY: Ipswich Ladies 1 Olton & West Warks 1IPSWICH Ladies, for so long a driving force in English Hockey League's Premier Division, are still waiting for their first win of the season.

By Martin White

Ipswich Ladies 1 Olton & West Warks 1IPSWICH Ladies, for so long a driving force in English Hockey League's Premier Division, are still waiting for their first win of the season.

Two home draws, sandwiched by a defeat at Slough, keeps them in an unacustomed position towards the wrong end of the table, but at least they have the satisfaction of being the first side to take a point off Olton.

And, if they show the sort of form they did during a stirring second half at Tuddenham Road, that first victory won't be long in coming.

Olton arrived as joint leaders with a 100 per cent record and their mainly young side, well schooled by coach Kalbir Takher, showed on occasions the flair and speed of movement that has carried them to the top.

Their passing was crisp and simple, but too often a lack of control let them down in the final third of the field.

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With the league's leading scorer, Helen Grant, often an anonymous figure out on the right and well policed by Colleen Adcock, they had to look for other outlets and the trio of Vanessa Hawkins, Mandy Gatherer and Lucilla Wright made sure the Ipswich defence were kept on their toes.

The reliable Jo Thompson kept the home side in the game with some smart saves as Gatherer and Rachel Walker were both denied in quick succession.

Ipswich were far from fluent in a generally unproductive first half and they fell behind two minutes after the interval.

From only their third short corner, Walker's shot rebounded off Thompson but fell kindly for Caroline Jones who made no mistake with a reverse stick effort.

Thompson saved twice more from Kerry Moore and Walker before Ipswich equalised with a peach of a goal from Leisa King after 52 minutes.

Picking the ball up from Jo Ellis on the right, King drifted across the area before unleashing a reverse stick effort which left keeper Maggie Rees bemused.

From that moment, the clouds of uncertainty that had surrounded their earlier play disappeared and Ipswich looked a totally different side as they created far more chances.

Sarah Bamfield should have done better two minutes after King's equaliser but she gave Rees an extra split second in which to make a crucial save, while Kirsten Spencer was only inches wide from a short corner strike.

With time running out, Olton made a last-ditch attempt to win the game on the break, but the experience of Thompson again came to the fore as she raced out to deny Hannah Smith after Wright's superb crossfield run had set her up.

Dereham 2 Ipswich Ladies II 2

Ipswich travelled to Dereham looking for three points but in the end they had to settle for one in the Premier Division of the Printwize East League.

The first five minutes saw a cat and mouse game between both teams, but Dereham took an early lead as they broke away and scored with a well taken shot that left Ipswich keeper Mary Ost stranded.

Ipswich looked to hit back straight away but they could not take their chances. Dereham buoyed by their goal, broke away again and they took their chance to increase their lead.

Ipswich did not panic and a fine individual run by Lucy Philp resulted in her being fouled infront of goal and a penalty flick awarded, but Sarah Juggins saw her flick saved.

The visitors were beginning to feel frustrated, but the second half saw Ipswich step up their work rate and their perseverance paid off as the hard-working Fiona Molloy fed the ball through to striker Emma Millar.

Millar crossed the ball to Katie Leech in space and her shot beat the keeper.

Dereham were rattled and with Ipswich now in domineering form, moving the ball superbly round the back, it was only a matter of time before Ipswich equalised.

Molloy laid the ball off to Jane Cook who finished with an unstoppable shot straight through the keeper's legs. Further chances followed but Ipswich were unable to finish them off.

While Ipswich left Norfolk with only a point, the fight back from 2-0 down left the squad feeling that it was a point gained, not two lost.