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Rais against time for Ipswich men

PUBLISHED: 12:46 22 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 March 2010

HOCKEY: Ipswich will have nothing but survival thoughts on their minds when they take on Nottingham at Henley Road on Sunday. Time, however, is running out for the side who made their bow in Division Two of the English Hockey League at the start of the 2000-01 season.

IPSWICH will have nothing but survival thoughts on their minds when they take on Nottingham at Henley Road on Sunday.

Time, however, is running out for the side who made their bow in Division Two of the English Hockey League at the start of the 2000-01 season.

Ironically, Nottingham, who Ipswich beat in those heady play-offs at Milton Keynes, also eventually qualified, but last season's fourth place finish has not been matched this term.

The midlanders have been in freefall recently and have collected just two points from their last five games while conceding 20 goals along the way.

They have, however, garnered sufficient points to avoid being in the relegation scrap while it looks like Ipswich's best hope of staying at this level is to re-qualify through the same play-offs at the end of April.

Unfortunately, history does not favour the side trying to retain its place and it is often difficult for a team to lift their game against the pretenders to the crown.

There is a glimmer of hope that if Ipswich win both their remaining games and one of the three sides currently six points ahead lose both theirs, then they will escape.

To reach the play-offs, they must overtake Bromley who at present are two points ahead and not expected to get anything out of tomorrow's trip to champions Belper.

A fortnight later, the last rites will be performed, with Ipswich at Oxford Hawks and Bromley at home to Formby.

Ipswich will be without joint leading scorer, Oliver Didham, against Nottingham and that may mean longer pitch time for both Ivan Smith and Richard Stainthorpe.

Skipper Asif Rais has not given up hope and will want 100 per cent effort from all his players.

"Last week's draw with East Grinstead was a bitter disappointment to us all but we must lift

ourselves for our last two games," he said.

"We let them back in the game with some soft goals but we were the better side and should have won. Nottingham won't be easy, but it's a game we simply must win."

The second team, who have already sealed promotion to Premier Division B of the Printwize East League, finished their league with a 2-1 success over Old De Ferrians with goals from Ivan Smith and Toby Lever.

Alan Mayhew (2) and Steve Foster scored the goals which helped the thirds beat East London 3-2 and they have a final crucial game with Dunmow.

The fourth team completed their league games by beating Rochford Casuals 3-0 with goals from Bill Izzard (2) and Shyam Patel.

The fifth team game was postponed while the sixths team lost 4-2 to Chelmsford fifths.

Orwell Ladies, who have conceded 31 goals in their last five games, lost 4-1 to St Ives in Division Two North of the Printwize East League and tomorrow travel to Long Sutton, a team they beat 1-0 back in October.


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