Ladies' hockey team perform fightback

IPSWICH Ladies performed probably the most unlikely comeback in sport since Liverpool were 3-0 down against AC Milan in last year's Champions' League football final.

IPSWICH Ladies performed probably the most unlikely comeback in sport since Liverpool were 3-0 down against AC Milan in last year's Champions' League football final.

The Suffolk team moved from a relegation spot of the English Indoor Premier League to a top-four play-off position, with four wins of the highest quality.

They scored 22 goals last weekend and snatched the last play-off spot ahead of last year's champions, Slough.

Ipswich, last season's runners-up, will now take their place alongside Chelmsford, Canterbury and Bowdon Hightown at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Sunday, February 5, for finals day and the

battle for the coveted Champions of England title.

With the semi-finals and final being played in front of 4,000 spectators, and also being broadcast by Sky Sports 3, this will be a massive day for Ipswich Hockey Club and sport in Suffolk.

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Ipswich started the weekend against relegation-threatened Clifton and had to work exceptionally hard to make sure of the three points. Their second game was against Bowdon Hightown but they made a poor start as they fell a goal behind.

But Ipswich fought back and a crucial penalty stroke save from Charlotte Lee-Smith and a Leisa King hat-trick helped the Suffolk side to a 6-2 victory.

With the team playing superbly, Ipswich approached Sunday's game against Leicester in confident mood. An early goal from Lizzy Aldous set the tone and her team cruised to an easy 6-1 win.

The final game could not have been any more dramatic, as Ipswich faced local rivals Harleston Magpies.

Ipswich were aiming for a top-four spot, while Magpies needed a win to avoid relegation.

There was a tense atmosphere, especially as a number of Ipswich players had previously played for Harleston.

Magpies took an early lead with a penalty stroke but Ipswich remained calm and their superb team display soon saw them leading 2-1.

Ipswich then stepped up the pace and a Lizzy Aldous hat-trick and a brace from ex-Magpie Emma Lee-Smith saw Ipswich run out comfortable 7-2 victors.

A nervous wait then ensued as Ipswich had to work out all the permutations of the other games to see if their four wins had been enough.

After watching two more games, and seeing Sutton Coldfield lose to Clifton, Ipswich finally knew they had done enough to take them through to the biggest indoor hockey event of the year.

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