EHB Masters O40s Cup
Belper 1, Ipswich 4
BELPER’S outstanding run in the national over-40s cup was finally ended at the semi-final stage as Ipswich Men’s Masters recorded a 4-1 win in Derbyshire.
After five fantastic wins Belper had reached the semi-final for the first time. Ipswich, who are made up of former first XI players and have a regular veterans team, were at full strength and made it three finals in four seasons, having won it once and gone into Europe.
Belper were without a couple of players due to other commitments and a few players were battling with injuries which did not make the task any easier.
However, a good crowd and atmosphere helped give the team a boost and Belper began brightly, attacking from the whistle, pushing the visitors back and having the first few attacks of the game.
However, after ten minutes, a defensive lapse left an Ipswich attacker alone in the Belper circle. As he attempted to go around Belper keeper Steve Mills it looked like he had dispossessed him with a good sliding stop. Unfortunately the ball ricocheted back off the attacker leaving him with a simple finish into an open goal.
This settled Ipswich down and soon after they increased their lead as Belper struggled to cope with their movement and passing.
It was another deflection which fell nicely for them as a Belper defender tackled and another easy finish meant an uphill task.
At 2-0 down it would have been easy for Belper to collapse. Even with the ever-reliable defensive three of Mark Minion, Tom Osin and Richard Ward carrying injuries which reduced their effectiveness, Belper kept battling and forced their way back into the game.
They began to stretch the Ipswich defence with some quick counter-attacks and broke through on 25 minutes when a good pass from midfield from Paul Lawrence found Nick Morris who took on a couple of defenders and fired over the advancing Ipswich keeper to make it 2-1.
Belper then got a hold of the game leading up to half-time. They forced Ipswich back and created a number of chances.
Lawrence had a great turn and shot excellently saved by the Ipswich keeper but unlike at the other end, the rebound did not fall to the waiting Belper forwards Stuart Humphris or Ken Campbell.
Then a burst into the circle by Nick Morris set Belper’s John Bell up with an excellent chance right in front of goal. Unfortunately, he could not manage to sweep the ball home with the keeper stranded
This was a key few minutes as Belper were so close to the equaliser and looked to be getting a grip on the game.
However, with only two minutes left of the first half Belper turned the ball over on the half-way line and one pass through the centre of the struggling Belper defence found an Ipswich forward on his own and he managed to round the advancing Steve Mills to fire in a crucial goal against the run of play.
Belper came out and battled hard in the second half while Ipswich changed their formation to cope with the Belper threat.
The hosts had to re-organise as influential defender Tom Osin finally succumbed to the injury he was carrying.
Belper continued to work hard and managed to force a number of corners and half chances with Paul Lawrence nearly opening the Ipswich defence up on a couple of occasions.
He worked his way in to the circle beating a number of defenders before slipping at the vital moment as the Belper forwards lined up at the far post!
Ipswich were set up to frustrate the home side and began to take more control as the half wore on and Belper could not find a way through.
They forced a couple of short corners and chances that Belper Keeper Simon Emsley did well to save.
With ten minutes to go and players tired, Ipswich finally secured the win as a break-away led to a free attacker at the top of the circle who fired into the corner to make it 4-1.
Belper Mens O40’s: Steve Mills (GK), Simon Emsley (GK), Richard Ward, Mark Minion, Tom Osin, Andrew Hartley, Paul Cahill, Roger Carter, Nick Morris (c), Paul Lawrence, Stuart Humphris, Ken Campbell, Paul Greensmith, Dave Hoare and John Bell.