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Ipswich Cardinals

British American Football Team

Cardinals Defeated Again By The Spartans

Match Report - 11th August 2019

Essex Spartans 20 Ipswich Cardinals 0

Cardinals Bow Out Of The Play Offs With A Defeat In Essex

The Ipswich Cardinals 2019 season ended at the first play-off hurdle on Sunday in South Ockenden, Essex. As in the previous weeks regular season match up, the host side Essex Spartans wore down the Suffolk men in a stop start game, littered with yellow flags throughout.

The hosts scored early in the first quarter, again the impressive Felix Olu showed his strength after catching a short Thomas Macfarlane pass and stretching his legs to outrun the Cardinal defenders. Luke Goodwin added the conversion for a 7 point advantage, but unlike the previous week, points proved extremely hard to come by after that initial score.

There was no further scoring in the opening quarter as both sides defences stood firm. The Spartans lateral runs, that had done the most damage the previous week, were nullified as Coach Shaun Rapley made adjustments. He wasn’t helped by the omission of the hugely influential Thomas Markham, last weeks leading tackler.

The Cardinals offense showed signs of life as Quarterback Matt Agate connected with Fabian Ortiz Barr on several pass completions, but no points resulted. The Spartans worked their way upfield, but a fumble just a yard from the Cardinals endzone denied them a second score. Into the second quarter and another pass to Barr, then a lengthy scamper from Johnny Rodgers set the Cardinals up nicely, before an interception on the goal line ended another promising drive.

Having stifled the wide runs, the Cardinals defenders had to endure the bruising efforts from fullback Nick Walter. His direct, tackle me if you can, pile of dust plays really sucked the life out of the much smaller Suffolk defenders, and ultimately would prove a telling point in this fiercely contested winner takes all match.

Before halftime one of the bright young stars of the Cardinals defense, Ryan Caley intercepted a Macfarlane pass on a fourth down attempt. Along with fellow defensive back Angus Chisholm, either of these exciting talents will undoubtedly feature in the Player of the Season awards.

Just the one score separated the two sides at the interval then, the hosts realising they would have to work very hard to shake off the tenacious Suffolk men. The biggest concern for the Cardinals had been the inability to register any points at all, despite the defences resolute play giving them opportunities. The next score looked crucial.

The third quarter began with a huge sack from Tendai Aphiri, lifting the travelling support. In response, on the next Cardinals drive, back to back sacks from Billie Shelton, then Joseph Insole sent Agate reeling. The intensity rose as each minute passed.

Walter bulldozed his way into the Cardinals endzone for what looked a telling score, but the merry flag throwers called it back for a Holding penalty. Moments later Henri Clements, so often a threat with ball in hand, entered the fray on defense, and levelled Macfarlane with a crunching tackle. Rob Jelley replaced the wobbly Macfarlane, and he handed the ball to Walter who would not be denied a second time, extending the lead to 13 points.

It had taken the Spartans from the early moments of the game, until just 5 minutes remaining to register a second touchdown – a testament to the efforts of the magnificent Cardinal defenders. Unfortunately, you cannot win games without scoring, and try as they might, the offensive unit just couldn’t finish off drives.

As the players tired, the referees seemed to gain energy, launching penalty flag after penalty flag on both sides, rather spoiling a keenly contested affair.

Walter was denied another score by a referees call, but wouldn’t be denied again as he delivered the cous de gras from 11 yards out. Goodwin converted to make the score an unassailable 20-0 lead.

In true Cardinals style, one final effort in the dying seconds saw big runs from Jordan Mussington, then Clements galloped into the endzone for what looked a consolation score – only for the zebra’s to knock the final nails in the 2019 seasons coffin by calling it back for another infringement.

In a season that had promised so much this was a bitter disappointment for the Suffolk side. Back to back play-off years shows this talented squad are improving after some tough years of the past, but two tied games and two losses is not a fitting reward for the efforts of these gifted young men.

(Report By Ian Girling)

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