The Men’s 4th Team travelled to Ipswich today to play IES 2s on their “Smurf Turf”.
With Bob Skinner now manager/coach/tactical maestro due to a hamstring injury from last week which, sadly, is going to keep him sidelined until next season, Phil Cobbald filled the void at centre back. The team also welcomed James Lane in goal, Jonathan Payne in midfield and Oli Clarke who roamed.
The 4s started positively and, while neither side had the lion’s share of the possession, we strung together a succession of attacks, and Cobbald tested the opposition goalie with a strike from a short corner.
We reached half time at 0-0, confident that, although the first half had been uneventful for the most part, we would be able to go on and win the game. Indeed, we were soon 1-0 up, despite their centre forward’s objections, through a well worked short which saw Richard Gill dink a finish over the ‘keeper who was on the floor.
We continued to fashion chances, but our ball retention began to let us down, with yours truly finding IES players with nearly every pass. IES’s heads, which had been down for a while after going behind, started to lift, and they clawed their way back into the game.
After a sustained period of pressure, a pin point aerial found their striker who brought a good save from Lane; unfortunately, the ball fell straight to their onrushing forward who slammed it home, making it one a piece.
We were keen not to have a repeat of the game away at Cranes, where they nicked all three points in the dying seconds of the game, but, of course, the exact same thing happened – a slick move found their attacker, already with one goal to his name, with his back to goal and only a centre back in between.
Naturally, he drilled it straight through him to wrap up the win – a sickener, agreed the team, since the performance had been so good. IES, in their dugout, could be overheard saying how it had been their best performance of the season; a recurring theme, one might say, since week in, week out, the 4s have produced performances that should, in reality, never merit a place at the foot of the table, and have drawn the best from their opponents to win the matches.
As always, Richard Gill had an immense game, and was by far the best player on the pitch; Phil Cobbald picked out his men with precision; Jonathan Sharpe was dynamic out on the right; and Jonty Herschel-Shorland, man of the match, had an excellent game behind him.
After a break next weekend, the team will have a tough game against UEA 1s but, provided central defence issues are solved, anything could happen.