Victorious Ipswich lift challenge cup
WATER POLO: Ipswich sensationally scooped victory in the Eastern Water Polo League handicap challenge.The senior team made a clean sweep in the regional contest, having already fought their way past Colchester and Ilford earlier in the season.
By Debbie Watson
IPSWICH sensationally scooped victory in the Eastern Water Polo League handicap challenge.
The senior team made a clean sweep in the regional contest, having already fought their way past Colchester and Ilford earlier in the season.
Suffolk's increasingly impressive side faced old rivals Clacton with a seven-goal advantage on handicap.
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Despite this bonus, victory was by no means a forgone conclusion given that Clacton has fast become known as the league's toughest side.
Playing at Clacton Leisure Centre, the away venue might have proved a disadvantage for Ipswich's squad and it certainly called for a change of style on the team's behalf.
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However, tight marking in defence by Rick Tovell and David McCartney contained the Clacton attack and the forwards kept possession of the ball with accurate passes and positional play.
Notable contributions included two goals from Artie Radziunas and energetic swimming from recently-promoted youth Matt Morgan.
A strong player for Ipswich, he proved unlucky not to find the net during the match.
Ipswich's man of the match was talented 16-year-old Stuart Baker.
His scintillating break up the left wing looked finished as the Clacton tackle came in, but determined to see through his move he kept the ball and caught the keeper unprepared with a superb shot.
The game took on a distinctly edgy mood in the last quarter.
Several quibbles with the referee might have ruined Ipswich's chances, but the team calmed down and played out the last few minutes without letting Clacton get near the seven-goal margin.
The final score of 8-4 meant that for the first time in many years Ipswich had won the challenge cup.
Team spokesman, Chris Stephens, said: "We're thrilled with the result and it's a real credit to the team after some tough matches throughout the season.
"It's a terrific victory for us."