Harleston Magpies sponsored by Musker McIntyre Estate Agents, warmly welcomed Horsham to the Nest on a sunny Saturday afternoon. As it was half-term this was the only match at The Nest, however due to its importance attracted a large crowd. There was however one notable absentee in Mike Denham. With the lure of lunch and a Box, Mike decided Carrow Road was far more appealing option.
The resulting away fixture ended in a 2-2 draw, at a time when Magpies were flying high in the League and with Horsham twice coming from behind, Magpies knew that this would be a keenly contested fixture. With Magpies’ opponents only a few points behind in 6th it had added importance in maintaining position in the league.
For Magpies, a combination of holidays, illness and injury had several players unavailable. As a result Magpies welcomed back Jade Daly in goal (for the unfortunate Meg Brown who played two games last weekend with a broken wrist) Tor Findley, Lucy Whiting and finally Lauren Rowe returning back earlier than expected from injury.
From the start Magpies were in no mood to allow Horsham to settle and seized the initiative immediately. Within the first two minutes Lauren Rowe collected the ball on the right-hand side and made a quick and decisive pass into the circle to a lively Lara Taylor, who’s quick thinking to round the keeper resulted in her being up-ended, gaining our first short corner of the match. From this Lauren Rowe sent a trade mark flick towards the top right which was parried by their impressive keeper, only for Lara to be the quickest to react to the loose ball, and despatched the rebound into the net, 1-0 to Magpies.
This start put the home supporters in a good voice and Magpies responded by continuing to have good levels possession throughout the half. Horsham’s resolute defence and at times our final ball restricted Magpies to only a number of half chances which were dealt with well by their keeper. The first half was marred with a couple of nasty looking injuries one to Emma Lee Smith and also a stick to the head on Lucy Whiting who was unable to play any further part in the match.
The early part of the second half Horsham pressed high and began to take some control. At times Magpies struggled to penetrate the ball up the pitch and relieve the pressure. As a result Horsham gained several short corners all of which were well marshalled by our defence and protected by Jade in goal.
The game continued to ebb and flow, but both attacks struggled to carve out any clear-cut chances and with both defences holding strong. The large crowd were nervous at times however Magpies managed to hold on for a well-earned 1-0 win.
This was not in any way our best performance of the season and the players were made to work very hard by a determined Horsham side who have acquitted themselves very well in this League since their promotion last year. For once the result was probably more important than the performance and enabled Magpies to open up a 6-point gap between 5th and 6th with only 5 games remaining.
A game played in a good spirit and was well umpired and all the locals went home happy with the result.
Nest week Magpies travel to local rivals Ipswich hoping for a repeat of the 5-0 home win in October. If successful, this will give us a good opportunity to push for a higher league position by the end of the season
Squad: Lauren Barber (Captain), Jade Daly, Annie Nunn, Louisa Greenacre, Katrina Sitch, Debbie Francis, Charlotte Harrison, Lara Taylor, Victoria Findley, Katherine Ridley, Lucy Whiting, Lizzie Clymer, Lauren Rowe, Emma Lee-Smith, Frances Burrell, Kristine Ayling.