Vital victory lifts Ipswich
MEN'S HOCKEY: Ipswich 5 Bromley 1. The battle is over but the war still has to be won.A second success over Bromley has lifted Ipswich off the bottom of the English Hockey League's Division Two, but a lot of work still lies ahead.
Ipswich 5 Bromley 1
THE battle is over but the war still has to be won.
A second success over Bromley has lifted Ipswich off the bottom of the English Hockey League's Division Two, but a lot of work still lies ahead.
A far more resurgent, hungry and willing Ipswich side, reminiscent of last season's debut-makers at this level, eventually completed the double over the Kent side in a physical and bruising encounter at Henley Road.
Bromley's war of attrition with the umpires saw them at one stage reduced to nine men and the diminutive Gary Kirk, having just been allowed back on, was then shown a red card for ill-timed remarks shortly before the end.
Their indiscipline, however, paled into insignificance against the home side's rediscovered desire. With the highly experienced Nick Fry making his debut in the national league at the age of 38 and the effervescent Andy Cook reinstated up front, it was like the Ipswich of old.
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Fry might have made the odd slip, but his vision, command and verbal assistance helped the midfield and forwards, while Cook, who has pledged his support at this level until the end of the season, gave a timely reminder of what has been missing.
Tireless throughout, chasing back, harrying and generally creating havoc in the Bromley defence, he put Ipswich on the way after just four minutes with a sweetly timed shot from a short corner.
Eleven minutes later, Richard Fox brought a James Hughes pass under control and thumped an accurate shot across keeper Nigel Walsh.
At this stage Ipswich were running the show, but went off the boil after an accidental clash between Simon Miller and Dean Hulls, which left the Bromley defender with a deep gash in his forehead and unable to take any further part in the game.
The lengthy delay only served to help the visitors and a hotly contested penalty award seven minutes before the interval saw Stuart Hendy beaten for the only time as John Warren put the flick high to his right.
For a while, Bromley dictated affairs as Ipswich struggled to get back in the game, but after the interval, Oliver Didham brought a great save out of Walsh before beating him with a superbly struck shot to round off a move involving Miller and Fox.
Bromley briefly threatened with Roy Wood hitting the post, but when Kirk was shown a yellow card for dissent, their enthusiasm waned.
With 12 minutes left, a sweeping move down the right ended up with Paul Calver on the left and a crisp drive beat Walsh at his near post to register the defender's first goal in five years.
Bromley were now out of sight and Walsh was forced to saved from both Jon Cuff and Fox, before Cook crossed from the right and Andy Swindin claimed the final touch as he and Fox arrived at the same time.
Ipswich still have some work to do if they are to climb away from the relegation area, but if this performance is anything to go by, the resurgence is just beginning.