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 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 Team vs Chelmsford 1st Team (Away (L) D 2-2)
An injury depleted Harleston Magpies team sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops travelled to Chelmsford, full of confidence after an unbeaten start to the season.
Magpies however, were not able to inject some of the intensity that player coach Tim Whiteman had instilled into the team since the beginning of pre season. The first 20 minutes for magpies players was arguably some of the worst of the season.
However, the squad reflected on the values of what it means to be a ‘pie’ and managed to raise the intensity to a respectable standard. This was rewarded by some brilliant build up play down the right hand side through Tom Sumner who appears to be maturing likes fine wine. Simon Hipwell managed to use his assets to block off defenders after a breakdown of play in the D whilst a rip roarer of a strike from eventual MOM Matt Richardson gave Magpies the lead.
After a warning at half time from Player Coach Whiteman, who demanded more from his team, and reflected on the fact he himself needs to engage with the spirit of the game, Magpies were keen to convert more chances and put this game to bed.
Magpies back 4 headed by self coined ‘veterans’ Leigh Sitch and Andrew Bedwell raised the tempo of transfer. This gave subsequent room to new signing Jonty Gosling at left half who linked up with new Vice Captain Thomas Ridley, who linked with the forward line well to win a short corner. A slip flick from Thomas Ridley was deflected off a Chelmsford player and Magpies were 2-0 up.
With 4 minutes to go, Chelmsford weren’t disheartened and chased the game hard. After a magpies turnover and subsequent Chelmsford breakaway resulted in a goal, the home team had theirs tails up. Chelmsford won a shortcorner after full pressing a tired magpies side, which they neatly finished to end the game 2-2.Magpies players felt disheartened after having most of the possession during the encounter. However, the result was probably a fair one with magpies far from their best on the day and knew they are capable of much, much more.
Next week Magpies host a struggling Ipswich in what promises to be a riveting East Anglian derby. Push back is at 2:00pm at Harleston.
Mens 1st Team vs City Of Peterborough 1st Team (Home (L) D 1-1)
It was a grey day at the nest as Magpies welcomed City of Peterborough who were unbeaten heading into the game. The game started with real intensity and Magpies picked up where they had left off the week before with a real dominant showing in the first 10 minutes but not coming away with a goal. The game became very even with chances at both ends. Magpies were first to strike though with a dinked reverse stick ball from Sam Paterson through to Archie Winter who calmly slotted a reverse sweep through the keepers leg from an angle.
The game became slightly more in favour of Peterborough towards the end of the first half and they were soon to equalise through a nice well worked team goal. The game became very heated towards the end of the half and Magpies found themselves unfairly down to 10 when Archie Winter was shown green with a minute to go.
The second half started in the same vein as the first but with Peterborough in attack and as Magpies relieved the pressure through the pairing of Andrew Bedwell and Leigh Sitch the ball found it’s way to Pete Bale who managed to pick out Archie Winter who was fresh on from the card. He was left with a 1v1 and who coolie slotted a reverse from a tight angle to put the pies 2-1 up. The game became back and forward with both teams having chances and Peterborough were next to take the chance from a well worked short corner and a good deflection which ended up going in off a magpies players body.
As the game ticked by the chances started to build up for magpies but they were unable to convert any of them. The game ended 2-2 with Magpies rueing a few chances but they look forward to next week away at Chelmsford next weekend where the aim will be to pick up maximum points.