Category Archives: mens 1s reports


Mens 1st Team v Wapping 1 L 0-1

Harleston Magpies, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, travelled to London for the second successive week seeking their 10th victory in a row. A strong squad including many from the golden generation were confident that their brand of hockey, fitness and desire would be enough to knock Wapping off top spot in Prem A. 
Coach Tim Whiteman asked for a fast start and put to bed any of the rumours that a point would be a good result. It was clear that Wapping wanted to play the ball long, with their captain bypassing the harleston midfield with disguised passes and an aerial threat but the men in black and white coped well and in return looked to get on the ball with short passing and good interplay. Pete Bale looked to orchestrate the play, bringing the likes of Tom Ridley into the game in dangerous areas. With 15 minutes on the clock, Manager Kevin Ridley was left scratching his head when Wapping opened the scoring through an uncharacteristic mistake from the defensive unit.
If truth be told now was the time for a mentally strong 15 men to dig deep, put pressure on the ball and control the tempo. Strong challenges were exchanged in all areas of the pitch and words said to both umpires, finally reducing Wapping to 10 men. From this point Magpies were marginally the better side but deserved to be losing at half time after too much running into flat sticks all over the pitch and not enough meaningful play in the opposition 25.
The message was simple from senior players, believe and execute the game plan. It was important to get back to basics. Good defensive pressing nullified Wapping attacks but with the ball magpies still struggled to create meaningful chances. 3 second half corners passed without the net bulging. Time was passing and it was beginning to look unlikely that the deficit would be overturned. Harleston continued to rotate their bench and dictated the game with their patterns but to no avail. 
Wapping roared at the final whistle recognising a big scalp over promotion rivals. Even man of the match Simon Hipwell couldn’t add to his growing goal tally for the season.
For magpies this was a reality check, next week Harleston host West Herts, where they will undoubtably bounce back and head into the Christmas period on a high.


Mens 1st Team v St Albans W 3-2

Harleston Magpies Sponsored by Dynamic Club Shop flew from the nest this week to take on St Albans. The two teams joint second with only 1 draw and 1 loss. The boys in white were keen to take this winning streak further 8/8 is never enough for a team like Magpies. After one of our best warmups for the season we were ready to revenge last years disappointment. 
The game started with a high press from Magpies giving the opposition very few options. St Albans only had 2 half chances inside the first half thanks to some excellent defending from Leigh Sitch, Andrew Bedwell, Oli Whiteman, Richard Larkin and Tom Sumner. It was clear that our defence were more than up to the challenge with every 50/50 ball ending on a white stick. 20 minutes into the game the deadlock was broken. A wonderful strike from the top of the D from Dave Gilbert saw the keeper make a save which fell comfortablly for James Gray to slot the ball home. 
Vocal instructions from midfield were clear that the next 2 minutes would be vital. We were determined not to have another Bedford performance and let them score directly from push back. These 2 minutes were infact vital as Tim Whiteman, Elliot Marsh and Tom Ridley had some lovely interlink play before finding Dave Gilbert out on the right. Some composed play allowed Dave Gilbert to carry the ball down the base line and pick out an inch perfect pass to James Gray on the P spot who slotted the ball home once again from close range. 2-0 with 2 goals in 2 minutes! A card for a poor tackle saw Tim sent off late into the first half but the Harleston stood strong. 2-0 the score at half time. 
We knew that 2-0 was always going to be tough to defend and ideally would like another goal. Raunaq Rai won a short corner by drawing a bad tackle outside the circle after some scintillating stick skills. A well worked corner thumped into the back board via Thomas Ridley. 
Shortly after this Ben Gowing received an unlucky card and was off for 2 minutes. St Albans won a easy short corner as the ball found a foot inside the D. This however was saved will by John Livings in goal and with Harleston back up to 11 we began to look dangerous. 
Simon Hipwell making some excellent leads up front assisted by the never ending legs of Pete Bale were unlucky not to increase the 3-0 lead further. Another loose tackle meant that Tim Whiteman was to receive a green and have 2 minutes on the bench. This time the player down was costly as St Albans overloaded the D and found a free player down the left to score past the onrushing John Livings in goal. 3-1. Just like Magpies, St Albans pressed again and inside 2 minutes had a second goal, this time down the right. A fabulous save by John Livings saw the ball roll wide straight to an attacker who lifted the ball from a tight angle into the back of the goal. 
3-2 the score with 20 mins left to play. With Magpies back up to 11 Raunaq Rai found some space into the D but unfortunately reversed the ball high over the fence and into the car park. More and more pressure put on from St Albans saw Magpies sag deeper and deeper into their half. Pete Bale and Dave Gilbert determined to not let this happen stepped out and pressed high encouraging the midfield to do the same. With 2 minutes left on the clock nerves began to show and Ben Gowing was sent off with a yellow this time. The drama was not over with a short corner awarded to St Albans. 
This was it the full time whistle had gone. Magpies had clenched 1 point away from home but could they keep the ball out and make in 9/9 wins! The ball was injected and James Gray ran a superb line getting his body on the line. The drag flick fired hard into the right foot. The Albans players took a reverse stick shot that found the back of the net however the whistle had already gone for a re award of the short corner. The second short corner saw the ball again charged down by James Gray who again wore the ball on the right foot. This time advantage was given and St Albans shot again but this time the ball deflected high from John Livings and a short corner was blown, again the ball ended up in the net so the Albans players were frustrated. The third short saw the flicker forced to fire the ball down the middle of the goal for John Livings to save and like lightning Leigh Sitch and Elliot Marsh bravely put their bodies on the line to get the rebound clear and the ball was out of the D. Magpies heard a whistle and looked up ready to celebrate, however it was yet another short corner. On their 4th attempt the front runner James Gray ran the same line as before not allowing the flicker to choose his favoured right hand side of the keeper and this time forced him to shoot low to John Living’s left. Andrew Bedwell on the left post quickly judged the ball was going wide however the deflecter was getting ever closer. But not close enough. The ball rolled harmlessly off the back line and we had done it! 
Magpies had won 9 on the bounce and secured 2nd place on the table just 2 points below next weeks opposition Wapping.
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Mens 1st Team v Saffron Walden W 2-1

This week Harleston Magpies men’s 1s, sponsored by dynamic club shops, were looking to continue their winning streak to make it 8 from 8. The team welcomed Dave Skinner who replaced the injured Tim Whiteman.
The team warmed up well with no injuries this time. With a shortage of midfielders, the team had to adapt to the circumstances and Raunaq Rai was pushed into the midfield line.
It was clear from the off that Saffron Walden relied heavily on their centre-half, with his aerials occasionally managing to catch the Harleston men off guard as their half backs sneakily crept through our lines.
After identifying the problem, the boys in white managed to set their press well and limited the opposition’s options.
After missing a number of back post deflections, the closest coming within the first minute as David Gilbert hit the post, Harleston were bound to open the score line. 
Some impressive work from Ollie Whiteman saw the ball roll towards goal, and Dave Skinner made sure of its entry.
Dave Gilbert was determined to score as usual and effortlessly flicked the ball into the net. This goal, unfortunately was disallowed and Magpies were forced to regroup and go again.
In a brief lapse of concentration, a Saffron Walden forward was found unmarked inside our D and the score became level at 1-1.
Getting frustrated with their own poor decision making, it was clear that Harleston were desperate to score. Finally the time came as Tom Ridley manoeuvred himself up the pitch in style, and managed to find an open James gray who reversed it low past the keeper.
With the time running low, Magpies’ game scenarios kicked in and let the clock run down.
The score ended 2-1 to Magpies who look forward to a challenge next week against St Albans.


Mens 1st Team v Norwich City 1 W3-1

This week Harleston Men’s 1s sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops were looking to continue their superb run of form away at close rivals Norwich City. The team welcomed Oakley, Epsom, John Livings and Ollie Whiteman back into the side. 
Early in the warm up it was clear that the difficult pitch was going to cause some issues and this was evident with an early injury for magpies. The first 20mins saw Harleston fail to secure a few early chances and struggle to take control of the game. Tim Whiteman and Simon Hipwell pickpocketed the Norwich defence a number of times which created some golden opportunities but no finish to put them ahead. 
An early disallowed goal from Norwich City made it seem to be not magpies’ day and soon afterwards Norwich City were able to take the lead; but this proved to be a stern wake up call for the boys in white. The remainder of the first half saw Harleston grow in confidence and an impressive piece of individual skill and finish from Raunaq Rai meant it was level at half time. Overall a disappointing half with lots of individual errors and turn over balls, much unlike previous games this season.
With the second half underway Harleston began to assert their dominance on the game and some ruthless pressure in the D from James Gray and Dave Gilbert gave magpies the lead. However, despite some commanding hockey from the likes of Thomas Ridley and Pete Bale in the middle of the park, Harleston continued to lack the quality of previous performances and were unable to rack up the score line. A well taken short corner goal from Ben Gowing secured the victory but this was certainly a game with little to say afterwards other than to move on. 
Looking positively on the game it’s the sign of a promotion worthy side to get the win even when not playing at their best. Next week magpies face Saffron Walden at the nest where they look to make it eight wins in a row and continue to put pressure on Wapping at the top of the table.


Mens 1st Team v Bedford W 5-4

Harleston, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shop, welcomed Bedford to Weybread on a sunny autumnal afternoon, hoping to continue their fine five-match winning streak. Harleston started extremely brightly, putting immense pressure on the Bedford back line and winning ball in midfield. Playing at this tempo wasn’t easy and the Harleston players also had to contend with a early afternoon downpour which made for slippery conditions. The Harleston heat eventually told and Magpies went 1-0 up after Tom Ridley played in Simon Hipwell on the edge of the circle to slot calmly passed the sliding keeper. Proceeding the goal however, Harleston succumbed to a mental slip and within 10 minutes found themselves 2-1 down. Impressive 1v1 eliminating skills from Bedford combined with lackluster defending handed the opposition the upper hand. Magpies regained composure before half-time and scored an equaliser with a lifted delivery skidding over Bedford sticks to find Pete Bale at the back-post. As the players regrouped on the halfway line they were astounded to see the decision overturned as the ball was deemed dangerous high. A slippery decision indeed. Harleston continued regardless and after more fine work from Tom Ridley who found Dynamic centre back Leigh Sitch, the full

back smashed the ball into the circle and regained parity through UEA Dave Gilbert slotting in at the far post. This match however had more turns than the Pulham bends and just when the boys could consider going ahead again, Bedford countered once more and finished close-in to lead 3-2 at the break.

The second half began with the same furious intensity, with both sides determined to finish as victors. It was Harleston however who wrestled control and after a fine 15 minutes levelled through first Leigh Sitch and then Andrew Bedwell at short corners. Two of the unlikeliest of heroes dragging Harleston ahead. With fifteen minutes to go it was 4-3 Harleston! The only question was, would they let the lead slip? Thankfully not, as captain Tom Ridley (once again at the heart of proceedings) won a corner attacking from high on the right. A crucial corner, Harleston had to get it right. The injection however was streaky and it looked like a corner fail. Thankfully however Leigh Sitch collected it and Tim Whiteman slipped past first the runner and then the sliding keeper to release a shot that skidded slippery over the line. Despite sky high emotions, a calm celebration denoted the concentration required for the final 10 minutes. Bedford pushed extremely hard but Harleston dug in displaying superb work-rate from James Gray, Simon Hipwell and Jack Hobbs to relieve endless pressure. With 2 minutes to go, Bedford however found their captain sliding in at the back post to make it 5-4! Tension was at Henman-esq levels! The crowd roared, willing the boys on. Finally, finally, it came and Harleston held on for a memorable victory. It was a hard game but with victory, Halreston moved to within two points of the summit and extended their winning run to six games – the first time for 4 years.

Manager Kevin Ridley commented afterwards, “that was a battle but the desire and commitment from all the boys was tremendous. The spirit shown from the players and the crowd made it a memorable Harleston occasion.”


Mens 1st Team v Cambridge City 2 W 2-1

On a crisp but sunny morning, Harleston men sponsored by Dynamic Club Shop flew the nest and landed at Wilberforce road and the home of Cambridge City 2s. Awaiting our arrival were two new beautifully laid pitches, a beautiful sight for any hockey player. As ever, the guys arrived in good spirits and start the day by attempting to break their hoodo – no, not winning away from home, but playing cricket before a game. Is it a curse? We dared to gamble and find out. Jack top scored with some irritating small shots, while Ruanaq nearly found himself in an inadvertent suicide pact with a discus while collecting the ball from the athletics field.

With all this fun it was easy to forget we had a game to play. The Harleston men started well in the first 15 minutes, controlling proceedings in high transfer and nearly went ahead through an early effort from stand-in captain Ben Gowing which was deflected narrowly wide. The pressure eventually told however when a well-crafted move starting at the back through Andrew Bedwell found Tom Sumner, who popped the ball into Ben Gowing, who then sprayed a beautiful ball out to discuss survivor Ruanaq Rai at right half who carried to the baseline and delivered to James Gray to brilliantly finish from close range. It was a sumptuous move that had manager Kevin Ridley purring on the sidelines. Harleston continued to apply pressure and before the half-time break missed three excellent deflections opportunities. Dave Gilbert, James Gray and Pete Bale all left looking to the heavens on this occasion. Were these misses just unfortunate? Or were the cricketing gods toying with the group? Only time would tell…

At half-time, a relaxed Tim Whiteman called for more patience and tempo, reminding the group that our pressure would eventually tell. Ten minutes into the second half, with the score still at 1-0 the balance however turned against Harleston as first Pete Bale (2 minutes), then Dave Gilbert (5 minutes) and James Gray (10 minutes) all went off for minor indiscretions that seemed harsh, even to the cricketing Gods. Note here – all three players sent off were also the three who missed deflections. Harleston had to then address a situation that had them pressing with 9 against a Cambridge 11. Harleston rode this out excellently but then, with 10 men, conceded a deflection goal from close range. Leek was helpless, the defense a little hopeless. Tension increased as the cricket gods chuckled away from above the clouds. It did indeed seem like the curse would not be broken.

However…Harleston stayed calm and with 5 minutes to go Cambridge themselves received a yellow card. Now Harleston had the upper-hand. They used it excellently, playing the ball around patiently to find Ruanaq Rai (again) at half-back, who found James Gray on the baseline who calmly found a foot. Penalty corner, 1 minute to go. The gods shuffled in nervous anticipation in their clouded seats. Harleston however executed the corner poorly and a shot deflected up and over the keeper. But wait! What comes up, must come down! The ball starts to drop, the gods are out of their seat and it falls, at the back post near Gilbert (UEA Dave) who fly swats the ball from high, down into the goal. A meer mortal man, from the UEA, defies the gods, breaks the curse and wins Harleston the game! Cue wild celebrations on the pitch and cordial handshakes on the bench between coach Tim Whiteman and manger Kevin Ridley. Harleston had done it and made it 5 wins on the spin.

Stand-in captain Ben Gowing reflected afterwards, ‘that was a test today but we reacted calmly to difficult situations and kept to our tactical game-plan. Right up to the end I never doubted we would score. The belief is half the battle. Roll on next week!”


Mens 1st Team v Cambridge University 1 W 1-0

Magpies welcomed the University of Cambridge to the Nest on a bright sunny day. The University boys had started the season in impressive form with strong wins over Wapping and West Herts. The home team had recovered from a wobbly start in their opening games to record a hat-trick of wins and both teams knew that a win in this fixture could prove a great springboard to kick on to the top 4 finish all teams are fighting for this season.
Magpies started the game in a composed fashion, smartly deciding to play into the first half sun, knowing this act of swagger would unsettle the young Cambridge team. Harleston were happy to let their opponents have the ball in their own half but their organised structure and general discipline meant the visitors struggled to make any headway once they entered the opposition half. The Magpies front line harried and hassled, denying the Cambridge backline time on the ball with which to find their forward players.
Harleston started to turnover the ball and were looking dangerous on the counter attack. One such attack resulted in a short corner. Simon Hipwell saw the goalie go low and denying team orders fired a drag flick high only for the keeper to push up a glove and make the save. Magpies were buoyed by this and continued to keep the ball patiently looking for an opening around the Cambridge deep defence.
Magpies won another short corner after dynamic defender Andrew Bedwell scythed his way past two Cambridge defenders before sliding in Richard Larkin whose ball across goal found a Cambridge foot. From the resultant corner a well worked routine resulted in captain fantastic Tom Ridley firing in to the net from close range. One nil Magpies.
Magpies continued to control the play in the first half but were unable to add to their tally. Cambridge tried to play their patterns but in the Harleston goal Chris Leek was rarely called into action, being limited to a few clearances.
The second half started much as the first had finished. Magpies midfield preventing their opposite numbers from having time on the ball and the Magpies defence applying excellent pressure on any Cambridge forward who did manage to get the ball near the circle.
Cambridge did begin to throw more men forward and their constant running and disciplined structure in possession eventually created some opportunities. The best of these saw a Cambridge forward reach the byline where his cross found a teammate unmarked at the back post. Fortunately for the home team the University forward fluffed his lines and kicked the ball as the goal lay open before him. Cambridge did force a few short corners of their own. One was well saved by Leek in goal and then bravely scrambled away by the rest of the defence. Another was charged down by Spi Hipwell, epitomising the bravery and determination of the rest of the team.
The home team continued to create chances with Jack Hobbs firing wide and top goal scorer Dave Gilbert being smartly denied by the keeper after Dave himself had robbed the Cambridge defence high up the pitch. Even half back Will Tew found himself with the ball in the opposition D although a bout of lightheadedness from being so far up the pitch allowed a defender time to bravely block the resultant shot.
As the final whistle blew Magpies knew they had put in a performance of great character against a fit and talented Cambridge side. After the game captain and man of the match Tom Ridley commented. “It was a very mature performance. Every man put in a shift today. I was happy with my goal as scoring more is something I am trying to add to my game. Ultimately though it doesn’t matter who scores as long as we get the win”  

Next week Magpies 1st team travel back to Cambridge to play City 2s looking to make it  five wins on the bounce.

Harleston Magpies M1s 1 – 0 Cambridge University M1s


Mens 1 v Chelmsford 1 W 3-1

This week saw Harleston Magpies Men’s 1s sponsored by Dynamic Club Shop make the long trek down to Chelmsford Hockey club on a very sunny and hot late October afternoon. The boys were very much hoping to put behind the memory’s of last year when they gave away a two goal lead in the last 5 minutes to draw 2-2.
The day started well with everyone arriving on time meaning the team to get a nice bit of yoga in before their warm up to loosen the bodies. The warm up was of very high intensity and quality which set us in good steed for the start of the game. Then game started with Chelmsford sitting back and soaking up the pressure Harleston where applying and it wasn’t long until the pressure became too much. The ball found its way into the crowded when Leigh Sitch made a good jump back tackle before Thomas Ridley found David Gilberts (UEA Dave) stick, where he then with his back to the goalie calmly spun round the keeper on a sixpence to place the ball into the back of the goal and extended. Chelmsford then upped the tempo causing them to win a few short corners for themselves, however the drag flicks where calmly swatted away by keeper Chris Leek who was making his first team league debut for this season. Chelmsford then where once again put on the back foot and the pressure began to build, this pressure was released then Tim Whiteman skilfully won a short corner. This seasons corners have been much better than last season due to a little bit of training dedicated just to short corners and this practice payed off, a slip left deflection was well saved by there keeper. However the ball was saved right into the path of Tim Whiteman who quickly controlled the ball a slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. The half time whistle was blown shortly after and Magpies went into the half time break with the score being 2-0 and having the upper hand.
The second half turned out to be much more of an equal affair with the game become very end to end hockey. Chelmsford then against the run of the play found them selves in the bottom corner for one of their player to smash the ball into the D where a deflection meant that the ball slowly crept under the Magpies keeper to make the score 2-1. Shortly after the first card of the game was brandished to a Chelmsford player for his back chat to the umpire, sadly Magpies where not able to take advantage of this and where unable to capitalise. The game continued to be played at a very intensity with both teams having fast paced counter attacks. During this stage of high intensity Magpies received their only card of the game due to a rash stick tackle from James Gray causing him to see green and a 2 minutes suspension. Not long after magpies where restored to their full number a short corner was won. Another slip left corner was produced but this time the ball deflected off a flying Leigh Sitch for him to expertly deflect the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net. After this the game became reasonably scrappy and began to slowly peter out and the final score ended 3-1 magpies, which now places them 4th in the league standings.
Next week Harleston Magpies men’s 1st team welcome Cambridge Uni 1st team who currently sit two points ahead of them in 3rd and this very much expected to be a game of high intensity and high quality. And anyone’s support will be very much welcomed.


Mens 1st Team v Ipswich 1 W 5-2

This week saw Harleston Magpies mens first team sponsored by Dybamic Club Shop take on local rivals Ipswich in a thrilling game of hockey. Even before the whistle there were scraps as a vocal Ipswich team fought for the push back even after the toss. Magpies warm up started very flat and needed lifting! A quick team gathering and a few words put us all on the right track which saw the Harleston boys hitting full speed before the final whistle.
The game began and Magpies quickly took control of possession, however it was Ipswich that had the first sniff at goal. Some good play from them saw the ball flicked over the bar from open play. An early eye opener for Magpies that this was going to be a battle until the final whistle. Chances began to come for the men in white as a few balls fizzed into the box narrowly missing an attackers stick for a deflection. The first break through came when Ipswich made a loose challenge outside their D resulting in a penalty corner. A miss placed injection came out to the wrong castle at the top of the D which was controlled and hit low and hard into the bottom corner by James Gray to give Magpies a 1-0 lead. Not long after this Magpies doubled their lead when Dave Gilbert on the back post tapped in a bouncing ball that came across the D. 2-0 Magpies! With just seconds on the clock, we became sloppy and lost our discipline for the first time in the game. A bad tackle outside the D was upgraded into a short corner. unfortunately an early break saw the shot charged down by Magpies number 1 runner but was only resulted in a re-award. A clinical drag flick from Ipswich took the score to 2-1 before half time.
The first half was fast and ferocious and was only going to get more intense as the game went on. We knew a 2-1 score wouldn’t secure us victory so we pressed on and despite the run of play early into the second half, Magpies extended their lead through Jack Hobbs with a nice reverse into an empty goal. 3-1 Magpies. We were quickly put on the back foot with Ipswich attacking our circle and winning another short corner. This time there was no early break from Magpies but this didn’t stop the Ipswich flicker closing the gap. A flick low to the right beat John Livings and the score now 3-2. A composed last 15 minutes saw us hold the ball better and dominate play, and eventually we were rewarded from our patience. A short corner – again from a poor tackle outside the D. This time the injection was good and Oli Whiteman found Leigh Sitch on the back post to deflect it into a Ipswich body and a stroke to be awarded. Dave Gilbert stepped up and slotted the ball calmly into the bottom right of the goal. Some poor language from the Ipswich keeper saw a yellow card pulled out and Ipswich were down to 9 (with a green given for the short corner challenge prior to the flick). Some more bad language from Ipswich saw a kicking back also receive a yellow before play had even begun again from their keepers yellow. Ipswich down to 8. with 14 minutes on the clock Magpies didn’t change tactics. We still pressed high as instructed by skipper Thomas Ridley himself. Tired Ipswich legs began to show as Harleston increased their lead through hatrick hero Dave Gilbert who tapped the ball in at the back post past the substitute keeper! 5-2 was the final score despite a corner gives to Ipswich on the last play of the game.
A huge result for Harleston who make it 3 games unbeaten and are rapidly climbing up the league table!
Next week the squad travel to Chelmsford looking to avenge their disappointing result last year. 


Mens 1st Team v Letchworth 1 W 5-0

Harleston Magpies Men’s 1st XI sponsored by Dynamic club shop entertained Letchworth hoping to produce their first win of the season. The team welcomed back Leigh Sitch and Ben Gowing. With a number of stalwart supporters braving the elements, Magpies got off to a flying start immediately forcing the opposition back into their own half where they camped for most of the first half. The Magpies call of Goals will come was rewarded when Simon Hipwell stayed calm in the D winning a corner. The corner was dispatched by Ollie Whiteman only to hit a Letchworth foot on the line, the ball fell to Thomas Ridley to slot home but the whistle had already blown and a penalty stroke awarded. Without hesitation, Dave Gilbert stepped up to convert to end his goal draught. Half time 1-0.
Head coach Tim ‘the stat man’ Whiteman was not happy with conceding possession too often, especially with first time passes. This was rectified in second half, with only the veteran Pete Bale allowed to complete 1st time passes with his years of experience. With ball pace improved, combined with opposition tiring, due to our fitness, many scoring chances were produced. Further goals from James Gray x 2 one of which being a penalty flick. Another goal from Dave Gilbert (tap in). Also Pete Bale on the score sheet with a celebration of shock as he smashed it into far corner. Overall a deserved 5-0 win.
Next week a local derby we entertain Ipswich at Shotford Heath which will be a far more testing physical game, push back at 1:30pm.


Mens 1st v West Herts D 2-2

Magpies Mens 1st XI sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops after their disappointment last week travelled to West Herts who were relegated from National League at the end of last season. The squad welcomed in Ranauq Rai for his 1st team league debut replacing Leigh Sitch who missed out due to a head injury sustained in training. The squad also welcomed back Dave Gilbert following a series double knee injury last year.
Feeling confident after a good training session during the week and warm-up, Harleston started strongly, keeping ball possession with good interlink play between the midfield and forward line.  The deadlock was broken when a head coach pass found Tom Ridley at top of D, to pass to Simon Hipwell to score with a deflected shot.  Magpies continued to play good hockey but could not add to their lead and went into half time deservedly 1-0 up.
Continued domination after the break for Harleston was rewarded with a Jack Hobbs unstoppable shot from just inside the top of the D. With the match drawing into the last ten minutes the home side scored from a short corner.  Nerves came into play for Harleston as they struggled to the get ball out.  A poor tackle on Tim Whiteman resulted in the West Herts player being given a ten minute yellow and Tim Whiteman a 5 minute yellow for his reaction.  The West Herts player returned onto the pitch unnoticed by the umpires at the same time as Tim Whiteman was beckoned on.  A short corner was soon awarded for West Herts.  The umpires realising their mistake conferred and resent the West Herts player to the sidelines, but unfortunately did not overturn the awarded short corner. This was expertly dispatched by the West Herts drag flicker to equalise for the home side in the dying stages.
A disappointing conclusion to  a match that Harleston deserved to win. However, the squad will take great heart in the fact that this was more controlled display than that agasint Wapping in the opening game of the season. Next week Harleston welcome Letchworth to the nest at 3:00pm.


Mens 1st v Wapping 1 L 0-2

After a long hot summer, a brisk breeze is now moving across the Norfolk countryside signalling the arrival of fall and with it the beginning of another season of Prem A hockey. After a long and albeit successful preseason, the Harleston Magpies 1’s, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, approached the 1:30pm ‘puck-drop’ with professionalism and swagger, looking to steal 3-points from a skillful, veteran Wapping side.
The Magpies started the game on their front foot with some great attacking hockey and hard-nosed 1v1 defending, a style of play that the club prides themselves on. Despite putting Wapping under some pressure in the early goings, the Magpies found it difficult to convert in the final third due to a composed and talented Wapping backline. Wapping were the first to draw blood approximately 12-minutes in, when against the run of play a Harleston turnover inside the attacking-25 in combination with a viciously executed counter-attack saw Wapping find the back of the net following an initial save by keeper Jon Livings. ‘Despite a strong, confident start to the game, you could really feel the wind get sucked out of the boys’ sails following that goal eh’ reminisced Canadian mid-fielder Elliott Marsh following the match.
The next 10-minutes saw Wapping put the Magpies under significant pressure. Wapping’s combination of 2 talented center backs wreaked havoc on an unstructured and undisciplined Magpies’ press, while the Magpies struggled to link passes together against an organized Wapping press, leading to a flurry of turnovers to Wapping’s benefit. During this period, the Magpies were heavily reliant on the showcased tackling abilities of their veteran backline comprised of Tom Sumner, Leigh Sitch, Andrew Bedwell, Will Tew and Ollie Whiteman.
To add insult to injury, a series of errors inside their own 25 saw a bobbling ball make its way across the goal mouth only to be potted home top-cheddar by one of the Wapping forwards. The Magpies struggled to regain their composure culminating in some top-class work by the forward line, James Gray, Oakley Elsom, Jack Hobbs, Richard Larkin and Simon Hipwell to earn 6-corners at the end of the first half. However, none of the chances found the back of the net and slip flicker Elliott Marsh found himself head in hands, riding the pine into halftime with Wapping up 2-0.
Early in the second half, the adjustments made at halftime appeared to pay dividends as a spell of pressure inside the Wapping 25 and some skillful baseline attack saw a ball sneak across the Wapping goal mouth just out of the reach of forward sniper James Gray, who was left inspecting his stick for holes on the Wapping goal line. Unfortunately, the Magpies were unable to generate much more in the way of chances in the 2nd half despite the efforts of the formidable midfield line-up of Ben Gowing, Pete Bale and Captain Tom Ridley who had some great moments of interplay and on several occasions used some tactful ‘phonebooth’ skills to break free of the Wapping pressure. However, unable to link up with the forwards, these flashes of brilliance were often left wanting. Wapping’s calm and collected style of play in the 2nd half only added to the Magpies frustration which was finally relieved with the final whistle.
Despite leaving the result they wanted on the pitch, the Magpies will take away the positives from the match and look to have a strong training session in preparation for their next opponents West Herts.
Man of the match Leigh Sitch


Mens 1st Team v St Albans (Away (L) L 0-3)

Harleston sponsored by Dynamic Sport travelled to St Albans on a sunny April afternoon for their final game of the season. The squad welcomed back Ben Watson and Jude Potruff.
Harelston started the game well and managed to string some good moves together with some good passing moves. Defensively the team worked hard and sat in their half court zone well. St Albans started to thread balls through as the half wore on, however, the defensive unit of Jonty Gosling, Leigh Sitch, Andrew Bedwell and Tom Sumner stood firm and John Livings made some excellent saves when called into action.
Harleston were unlucky not to steal the lead following good play from Archie Winter and Jack Hobbs in midfield found Jake Sewell wide on the right. The youngster smashed the ball into the D which narrowly avoided the diving Tim Whiteman.
With the scores at 0-0 at half time Tim Whiteman asked for calm on the pitch as the temperature started to boil on the pitch.
In the second half both teams where soon reduced to 10 minutes for 5 minutes which meant both teams sat back for a the reduction in players. Harleston were soon undone when they were reduced to 10 players again. A long ball was deflected just outside the 25 which found an unmarked St Albans forward in the circle which he cooly finished past the on rushing Livings.
St Albans soon made it 2-0 capatilisng on a misplaced aerial that was expertly picked. With the Harleston defence out of position the St Albans forward was able to lift the ball expertly over John Livings.
As Harleston legs started to tire due to low numbers and the intense heat St Albans started to dominate possession. The Hertfordshire side should have made it 3-0 but Andrew Bedwell picked a thunderbolt of a drag flick on the line. Unfortunately from the resultant short corner St Albans did score their drag flick. Harleston did try and rally with what little time was left but despite an up right reverse stick from Archie Winter which fizzed past the back post they were not able to pull a goal back.
This was the last game for some of the Harleston players who are off to university. The squad would like to wish Archie Winter, Jonty Gosling, Sam Paterson and Jake Sewell.
The squad would also like to thank Leigh Sitch who is stepping down as captain following over 10 years at the helm.


Mens 1st Team v Spalding (Away (L) W 10-2)

Harleston sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops travelled to Spalding on a warm spring day. Harleston welcomed back Mark Flatman after a spell on the sidelines with injury. After an inspirational team talk from player coach Tim Whiteman the team knew that they had to play through their attacking channels and get their flair players on the ball in the name of Tom (David Silva) Ridley and Tim (Kevin De Bruyne) Whiteman.

Spalding pushed back and Harleston quickly won the ball with a good interception from Jonty Gosling released the ball through Elliot Marsh who fed Tom Ridley. The young midfielder quickly accelerated through two challenges before unleashing a fierce reverse stick shot across goal where a Spalding defender turned it into his own net. Harleston continued to win the ball in midfield allowing quick counter attacks at the Spalding defence and within 8 minutes were 3 goals up and the game was out sight. Mark Flatman scored a neat deflection before Matt Bensley smashed home from close range following a good save from the Spalding goalkeeper.

Against the run of play Spalding did pull a goal back when the ball unfortunately found Stuart Leate’s foot in the circle, the resultant corner was dispatched with a low and powerful drag flick. Harleston started to turn the ball over a little too often as they tried to play forward at every opportunity. Despite not stringing many passes together at times there were still patterns of unbelievable hockey. A neat one-two from Elliot Marsh and Thomas Ridley allowed the vice captain to score his second of the afternoon before Mark Flatman grabbed his second.

Harleston were awarded a stroke just before half time when a powerful Tim Whiteman drag flick hit a defenders body on the line. After some confusion in the rules as to whether Matt Bensley was allowed to take the stroke Matt Richardson stepped up with a swagger and dispatched the flick into top left hand corner of the goal leaving the goal keeper handcuffed.

The team went into half time pleased with their efforts and the performance level. Tim Whiteman asked for more composure at times on the ball and to keep scoring goals.

Harleston were very composed in the second half, keeping the ball for long periods of play and deciding when to hit Spalding on the counter attack. Many good patterns starting from Tom Sumner and Leigh Sitch in a new centre back pairing.

Mark Flatman quickly completed his hat-trick from a close range deflection. Leigh Sitch then got on the score sheet from open play (a rarity) with what the umpire described as goal of the season. The dynamic centre back started off the move by carrying out from centre back he eliminated two players before feeding the ball back to Tom Sumner. As the ball was transferred across the back and up the right through Matt Richardson and Thomas Ridley the athletic centre back carried on his run leaving Spalding players in his wake. The ball eventually found Richard Larkin on the right just outside of the circle and looking up, with delight, he saw Sitch arrive. The ball was played across and Sitch had to use all of his attacking flair to deflect the ball skillfully into the roof of the net off his back foot. A loud cheer from the majority of the team showed the significance of the vital 8th goal.

Harleston continue to press forward and soon added their 9th and 10th goal. Firstly Thomas Ridley completed his hat-trick with a reverse stick thunderbolt before Tim Whiteman found space in the circle to slot home. There was still time left for Spalding to grab their second goal. Stuart Leate slotted in at centre back as Leigh Sitch and Tom Sumner were rested for the final few minutes. After a Spalding counter attack Leate was adjust to have brought down the attacked as he raced through on goal. Spalding dispatched the stroke to make the final score 10-2.

Harleston have a week off next week before travelling to Blueharts were they will look to replicate their best performance of the season.


Mens 1st Team v Bedford 1 (Home (L) W 4-1)

After last weeks disappointing result against City of Peterborough Magpies M1st sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops were determined to show the home crowd the fight skill that had seen them nearly salvage a draw rather than the lacklustre effort that had led to them falling behind. Frosty weather had curtailed the weeks training and even put the fixture in doubt. Fortunately Magpies manager and part time pitch inspector, Kevin Ridley, had prepped the pitch Friday night with his patented anti-frost measures. Come Saturday morning the tarpaulin was removed and a bouncy soft green astro was revealed ready to welcome an always dangerous Bedford team.

Magpies started the game at a high tempo with the energetic forward line harassing and hassling the Bedford back line. On the ball the midfield were linking well. Marsh, Ridley, Whiteman and Leate were distributing the ball with calm authority and the Magpies forwards and half backs were finding space down the wings. Magpies created the first chance of the game when excellent work down the right saw the ball slid into Simon Hipwell whose first time snapshot agonising flew wide of the far post.

Magpies midfield and defence were coping well with the Bedford aerial threat and the forwards continued to find circle penetrations although no end product could be found. With ten minutes gone Magpies knew they needed to make the pressure count and sent on supersub Andrew Bedwell to step up the pressure. No more than two minutes after the robust full back had come on and the deadlock was broken. Coincidence? A Bedford counterattack was smartly rebuffed and Magpies replied with a counter of their own. Good passing down the pitch ended with Spi Hipwell finding space in the D, with his usual calm confidence in front of goal, he smashed a trademark reverse stick finish into the bottom corner.   

Magpies continued to threaten with their slick passing skills and strong ball carrying from midfield and another smart passing move found Richard Larkin free at the back post to double the advantage. Bedford were always dangerous on the break but Jon Livings and the back line were up to the task. Bedford were never allowed any clean shot at goal and were limited to a couple of short corners.

After an encouraging team talk Magpies were determined to put the game to bed in the second half. More magpie pressure resulted in a penalty corner and after the initial routine broke down Sam Moore was quickest to react. A smart spin and shot from the returning forward snuck under the gk and past the post man to give the home side the lead they deserved.

Magpies were controlling the game but with skillful players across the pitch both teams found themselves with chances to score. John Lvings had made a fine save to deny the visitors but good work down the Magpies right led to the away team converting a cross on the back post. This could have been a nervy time for Harleston but the home team refused to sit back and let Bedford dominate. Magpies continued to press aggressively across the pitch and turnovers were happening more and more. One such turnover led to a slick passing move that went from right to left before Simon Hipwell was left with a simple tap in after the Goalkeeper had been eliminated. This sealed the win for the home side although there was still time for another excellent passing move to find Tim Whiteman at the back post with and open goal. Unfortunately the ex GB player summoned up his international goalscoring form and deftly flicked the ball wide.

The final 4-1 result was justification for a very professional display from the home team who now look to end the season strongly.


Mens 1st Team v City of Peterborough (Away (L) L 3-4)

It was a blustery day at Bretton Gate which saw a top of the table clash between Peterborough and Harleston Magpies, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops.  As action got underway it was the home team asserting their dominance, capitalising on a slow start from the visitors. Some well placed aerials kept Harleston on the back foot and caused a tactical headache for the Magpies. This bombardment resulted in the Peterborough forwards having the lions share of possession which eventually materialised in the form of a short corner. Peterborough had a slick routine which saw the ball moved quickly to the far post for an easy tap in, giving the home side an early lead. Unfortunately for the visitors they struggled to play at their normal tempo, passing too often going awry and although there were some small flashes of good link up play, it was the Peterborough which struck next. Some good build up play on the wing resulted in a harsh short corner decision for a slightly miss-times tackle. Again the home team moved the ball around well and scored another deflected short corner routine. Heading it to the half time break it was 2-0 and looked like it could be a long day for the Harleston players as they failed to mount any serious momentum. Harleston player coach Tim Whiteman had some stern words for his team and demanded more as the team were on the receiving end of some much needed hairdryer treatment. Harleston reverted to their aggressive full press stance and as the second half got underway the pep talk looked to have done the trick as the team started to link up and play the fast assured hockey they are renowned for.
The visitors looked like a different team as some flowing moves were starting to ask questions of Peterborough’s defence. Magpies defender Sam Paterson was having a sterling game and managed to find himself in the opposition’s area after some good link up play with midfielder Pete Bale. As he tried to round the last defender a cynical foul resulted in a penalty flick and a glimmer of hope for the Magpies. Shouldering the responsibility himself, Sam was quick to dispatch the penalty flick and Peteborough found they had now had a game on their hands. Harleston had now found their feet and fired in a quick second when Archie Winter dispatched from close range. 
Peterborough continued to push forward but were rebuffed, Leigh Sitch making an outstanding 1v1 tackle to keep his team in it. It was Peterborough who found the break through though when a reverse stick shot found it’s way to an attacker to finishe from close range. Harleston were not done and player coach Tim Whiteman stepped up to wobble his way around 4 defenders at a short corner and calmly slotted home. Harleston continued to press and created two more clear cut chances, one cleared off the line and one a near post miss. With the game clearly at bubbling point Stuart Leate was fourtunate not to see yellow for a rough stick tackle. 
Peterborough managed to hang on and claim a vital 3 points. Harleston again left feeling disappointed that they left themselves too much to do in the second half of a game. Next week they face Bedford at home at midday. 


Mens 1st Team v Letchworth 1 (Home (L) W 6-0)

Magpies had a small squad of 14 for their second home game since Christmas sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, a few unavailabilities would mean that the home side would have to work hard in order to beat a physical Letchworth side.
The game began with both sides trying to find their feet. The deadlock was finally broken by Magpies through an Andrew Bedwell short corner strike which the perplexed defence could do nothing about. The home side capitalised on the now frustrated Letchworth defence by quickly converting another corner through a powerful Sam Patterson drag flick, taking Magpies’ much maligned routines to 100% converted for the day. The team in black and white continued to look threatening upfront with Richard Larkin leading the press very effectively, backed up by strong 1v1 defence all over the rest of the pitch. A moment of inspiration from the excellent Thomas Ridley took the score to 3-0 with a high quality reverse stick hit, which the keeper could do nothing about. This catalyst spurred man of the match Ridley to score again, this time scoring in less spaectacular fashion to take the score to 4-0 at half time.
The second half began not as Magpies had hoped with personal indiscipline leading to numerous cards. Magpies weathered the storms, with only 9 players at points, and reasserted their control of an end to end game. Matt Bensley shone with a long reverse stick carry finding Simon Hipwell in the circle who, when about to score, was upended by the goalkeeper. Bensley stepped up to score the resulting penalty stroke. As Letchworth grew increasingly frustrated, Magpies put together their best passing move of the match, playing many quick passes with Elliot Marsh smashing home with an aggressive shot from a tight angle, taking the score to 6-0. No more goals would come leaving the home crowd happy with the 3 points and a clean sheet.
Next week, Magpies travel to Spalding to hopefully continue their excellent run of form since indoor.


Mens 1st Team v Chelmsford (Home (L) W 5-0

Harleston Magpies 1st Team sponsored by Dynamic Sports Shop hosted Chelmsford on a wet and windy day.After a disappointing draw away, the hosts were keen to put in a good showing for the magpies faithful who had decided to brave the elements. Pies started with great intensity with the midfield of Thomas Ridley, Tim Whiteman and Matt Richardson putting immediate pressure on their midfield and asserting their dominance. Before long the deadlock was broken after some silky skills from Whiteman created space for Simon Hipwell to slide the ball into the D. Ben Watson was on hand to deflect the ball under the chelmsford keeper to claim his first goal for magpies. Magpies continued to push forward and the second goal came after Richard Larkin slipped the ball under his arm to Hipwell who moved it across for Richardson to calmly slot the ball into the top corner.  Half time finished 2-0 to the hosts.
Magpies started the second half as they finished the first and continued to pressure the opposition. The back line looked composed as they repeatedly denied Chelmsford the opportunity to get back into the game. Pies scored their 3rd after quick thinking from Andrew Bedwell at a short corner who spotted Richardson on the back post. Richardson took his time but eventually slotted the ball home. Keen to continue the pressure, the whole magpies team harried the opposition looking to win the ball back as soon as possible. It wasn’t long before man of the match Thomas Ridley showed his class in the D and slipped the ball under the keeper for hipwell to deflect home. Richardson almost completed his hat trick with the last play of the game but a determined Richard larkin was on hand to steal the final goal, and glory, with the last touch of the game. The final score finished 5-0 after a really encouraging performance from a slightly depleted magpies team.


Mens 1st v Saffron Walden ( Away (L) W 7-4 )

Harleston Magpies sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops finished the first half of the season by taking flight to Saffron Walden Hockey Club. It was a brisk morning and after a nervy pitch inspection was cleared, the wagons rolled from Harleston with the team determined to put in a good performance after two weeks without a game due to the cold weather. 
Harleston began the game brightly with the midfield and forward line finding themselves in threatening positions and within five minutes the pies had won themselves two corners but failed to capitalise. Then, with Harleston looking to mount another attack, a misplaced pass let Saffron Walden start a counter attack which they finished emphatically to take the lead. Harleston reposed well though and man of the match Archie Winter scored two high quality goals. The first a rocket on the back-hand from the top left corner of the circle into the bottom right corner of the goal and the second, another classy finish, with a two-touch finish in the circle struck hard, once again passed the keepers left foot. Harleston then faced a mini-collapse with individual defending errors letting Saffron Walden score two quick goals to take the lead 3-2. Harleston however responded well and went into the break 5-3 up with two deflected goals. The first coming from Stuart Leate who converted a deflection with the natural finishing ability he is famed for after a superb delivery crashed in by captain Leigh Sitch. The second from Pete Bale who again deflected a hammer blow of a ball in from fellow full back Andrew Bedwell. Both goals coming with celebrations fitting with their superb finish. The third was a sharp finish from Jack Hobbs from close range after good work on the right from Sam Patterson. 
Understandably, Harleston were disappointed with the defensive naivety shown in the first half and after clear boundaries were set, came out with a much improved and controlled performance that saw them score two more goals. The first was arguable Harleston’s best of the season. It started deep in their own half with Bedwell playing the ball into Hipwell, who then became the pivotal figure in a 6 person move of minimal touches that resulted in the returning Will Martin finishing from 6 yards out. A run away goal from Saffron Walden once again reduced the arrears but it was to be Harleston day when they scored from a short corner with Tim Whiteman latching onto a bullet delivery from Archie Winter with a single-handed deflection from an impossible angle that rifled passed the ears of the man on the line. Final score 7-4.
Man of the match Archie Winter reflected afterwards: “we were extremely disappointed to have let in so many soft goals today but overall our attacking intensity and ball retention was massively improved from recent weeks. It was great to welcome Jake Sewell and Will Martin back into the side which demonstrates the strength of our squad. Overall it’s been a great first half of the season and despite the odd result, we have played some expansive, attacking hockey that has been enjoyable to play in. 


Mens 1st Team v St Albans 1 ( Home (L) L 1-2 )

Magpies welcomed St Albans to the nest in what promised to be the game of the season. Both teams vying for promotion, with St Albans top but Harleston just behind with an unbeaten record in the league. The game started at a fast pace, with both teams pressing high up the pitch. It was Harleston who had the majority of possession and nearly took the lead with a short corner on 15 minutes with Sam Patterson beating the keeper for pace but unfortunately also the outside of the post. Half-way through the game St Albans began to assert their authority and it was Harleston’s turn to absorb pressure but thankfully Harleston went into the first half with the scores even due to goal keeper John Living’s crucial save and Andrew Bedwell, Giles Flat and Leigh Sitch’s telling interceptions.
Harleston started the second half extremely brightly and after a prolonged period of pressure broke the deadlock after patient build-up play against a deep lying defensive. It was captain Leigh Sitch who provided the pass into the circle and former Canadian international Elliott Marsh who deflected the ball into the goal. St Albans reacted strongly and immediately turned up the heat and within five minutes the scores were even after they converted a penalty corner to make it 1-1. As the half wore on Harleston once again began to dominate proceedings with Thomas Ridley and David Gilbert showing attacking intent that nearly earned the team a goal.  With fifteen minutes to go Harleston had a barrage of short corners but despite their efforts they lacked the potency of their rivals and failed to score from 13 penalty corners over the course of the game. As the game entered the final moments there only looked like one winner with Harleston camped in the opposition half rallying attack after attack. Then, with 1 minute to go the unthinkable happened and a counter attack from St Albans resulted in only their third penalty corner of the game and crucially their second goal: this time from the right castle into the bottom left corner. With 20 seconds left Harleston mounted one more attack but it was all too late and the final whistle blew on not only the game but possibly Harleston’s East Premier League title ambitions.
A devastating way to end a game in which the Harleston guys showed so much heart and determination. Player coach Tim Whiteman commented after the game, “this was an absolutely gutting result and didn’t reflect the effort or quality the lads demonstrate today. It does however illustrate the importance of penalty corners in tight games of hockey and on reflection we didn’t execute our corners as well as our opposition.  This performance does however demonstrate huge progress and myself and the club are extremely proud of their efforts today.”