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Ipswich Cardinals

British American Football Team

Cardinals Defeated By The Spartans

Match Report - 4th August 2019

Essex Spartans 27 Ipswich Cardinals 14

Cardinals Finish The Regular Season With A Defeat In Essex

With both teams already certain of a play-off place, the result of this match would only ascertain the seedings as the regular season came to a close on Sunday. Should the travelling Ipswich Cardinals overcome the undefeated Essex Spartans in South Ockenden, the number one seeded Spartans would lose their top spot, while the Cardinals could move up from their eighth position.

Seedings aside, the hosts were playing for their unblemished record to remain intact, while the Suffolk men looked to upset the apple cart and prove that, despite tying winnable games, they are indeed of play-off calibre.

Sundays battle ended as a tale of two halves, with the visitors ahead by 7 points to 6 at the half time whistle. The first half performance by Ipswich had been patient and balanced on offense, and determined and brutal on defense, although neither side looked on top. Cardinals quarterback Matt Agate moved the ball through the air to receivers Connor Phimister and Charlie Crewe at regular intervals, which freed up the Spartan defenders for runners Henri Clements and Jordan Mussington to run through. This balanced attack proved fruitful and Clements spun his way into the endzone for the opening score after a big Crewe catch down the Ipswich sideline. Angus Chisholm added the conversion.

In the second quarter the first signs of the punishing duel began to show. The Spartans are a big, bruising bunch that wear their opponents down. Linebacker Tom Markham, hugely influential in this match, and youngster Chisholm both received treatment before returning to the fray. The hosts began to find success running wide sweep plays, and it was the dangerous Felix Olu that capitalised on some tired tacklers when he burst around the edge from 22 yards out on 3rd and 8 for a touchdown. Ex Felixstowe rugby player Luke Goodwin missed the conversion however, and the Ipswich offense controlled the ball until halftime commanding a slender 7-6 lead.

As the second half got going, the chances of an upset looked less and less likely when Clements had the ball ripped from his grasp. One bounce and Spartans linebacker Kieron Goymer grabbed the ball before sprinting the 33 yards into the endzone to put his team ahead. A two point conversion attempt failed but the hosts looked refreshed and confident after that score and began to play like the division leaders they are. Olu again opened his legs around the despairing Cardinal defenders, then the bruising runner Nick Walter burst straight through the heart of the Ipswich tacklers, before Steve Cox finished a fine drive going the wide route again. 18-7 now, quickly made 20-7 by a Jon Tottman run.

John Rodgers, returning from injury for Ipswich, made good ground fielding the next kick off, but the Cardinals offense were struggling now, and were forced to punt. Olu enjoyed another burst, then on 4th down and 2, Tottman ran another sweep for a touchdown that sealed the deal. Goodwin converted and the Spartans had amassed a 21 point second half comeback to lead 27-7 going into the fourth and final quarter.

The Cardinals pulled their socks up. Spartans Aaron Jackson suffered concussion as Tom Markham led the charge for the Ipswich defense. Two big tackles for losses forced punts and when QB Thomas Macfarlane attempted to go the aerial route, safety Nate Hamer intercepted his pass to deny further scoring.

As the minutes ticked by more players left the field on both sides. The Spartans were able to recover their own fumble once, but not twice when Andrew Cook pounced on a loose ball inside the final two minutes. Agate found Crewe open again down the sideline for a nice gain, and it was Henri Clements that bulldozed his way for a consolation TD. Brad Ling converted to make the scoreline a far more respectable one at 27-14 and time expired after an unsuccessful onside kick attempt.

Seedings unchanged then, and the two sides get to do it all again next week. Essex maintained their grip on the number 1 seed, while Ipswich kept their 8 spot as results elsewhere went as predicted.

It will be a mighty ask for the Suffolk squad to raise their game once more, against an undefeated division winner – but if we’ve learned one thing about watching Cardinals games this season, anything can happen!

(Report By Ian Girling)

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Essex Spartans 27 Ipswich Cardinals 14

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