Old Streets boost survival hopes with Ipswich victory
London Two North East: Old Streetonians 21 Ipswich 17
Old Streetonians first-team coach David Bailey was all smiles following his side’s 21-17 home victory against Ipswich at the weekend.
The Shoreditch-based side welcomed their Suffolk visitors to the Hackney Marshes, knowing that they would face a stern test from a side placed fourth in the league table.
However, against a gentle breeze, Bailey’s men started well, with two quick penalties giving them a 6-0 lead.
Ipswich then struck back with a try of their own, as the teams went in 6-5 at the break.
In the second half, Old Street really took the game to Ipswich and managed to score three forwards tries through Harry Marson, Liam McInerney and Anthony Mills.
Despite the visitors scoring two further tries, Old Streets managed to hold on for the much-needed victory, which lifts them up to third-from bottom of the London Two North East table, two points above relegation rivals Canvey Island.
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“It was a fantastic result and it has been a long time coming,” said Bailey.
“It looks as though we may have given ourselves a real chance of avoiding relegation following that brilliant win.
“Ipswich are a team of semi-professionals and the club pays their players and they have several internationals, whereas we are completely amateur.
“They had one exceptional wing who was easily the best player we have played against in the league. So to restrict them to just three tries, I think that we did really, really well.”
Old Streets scored their tries on Saturday through strong forward play, an approach that has not been a regular characteristic of Bailey’s team this season.
“We are quite a small side in terms of size, so we try to play an expansive game,” said Bailey.
“However, on Saturday it was a case of needs must as we are in a real battle for survival in the league.
“And thankfully it worked and the players showed real belief and determination to hold on once we got into the lead.
“We fronted up to the physical battle on Saturday, and I was really pleased.”
With Old Streets now outside the relegation zone for the first time this season, Bailey’s men have a weekend off before travelling to bottom of the league Beccles for a survival clash on March 24.
“There is a good buzz around the club now and everybody is happy,” he said. “Winning like we did against a top-four side at home was great.
“However, the real battle comes against Beccles on March 24.
“It is a very tough place to go to on the Suffolk-Norfolk border and teams find it very difficult up there.
“It will be a long three-hour journey up there for us, but we are confident that if we prepare well then we can return with a win.
“If we win at Beccles, then I am sure that will probably be enough to keep us up.”
Last season, Old Streets found themselves in a rather similar situation, languishing in the bottom two before pulling away in the final stage of the season, and Bailey is struggling to put his finger on the reason why it has happened again.
“It really is peculiar that the same thing could happen this season,” he added. “The more you play at this level, the more you understand it, and the players are really focused on keeping the club in this division.
“I believe that we can do it, and if we play well for 80 minutes like I know that we can, then hopefully we will be in this league next year.”