MAGPIES MEN FINISH JOINT 5TH IN DIVISION ONE OF THE NATIONAL INDOOR LEAGUE AT NTU IN NOTTINGHAM
After promotion last year Harleston Magpies found themselves back in National Division 1 for the 2016/17 season. The league looked strong this year with three National Premier outdoor teams in Brooklands, Holcombe and Beeston, four other National League teams as well as St Albans and Harleston as the only teams from the Regional Leagues.
West Herts 11-3 Harleston Magpies
The tournament started off with constant bogey side West Herts. Magpies started sluggishly and found their press being penetrated too frequently. Goals were being shipped at regular intervals and at half time West Herts were in control at 6-2. Ben Wright completed his hat-trick shortly after half time and Magpies were looking more comfortable. The second half was much more competitive with neither team able to find the net for the next 10 minutes. Unfortunately Magpies were unable to score the goals that could have caused West Herts concern and late on with legs tiring West Herts found their goal scoring boots. A goal on 32 minutes and 4 in the last 3 minutes gave a final score of 11-3 to West Herts.
Southgate 5-7 Harleston Magpies
Magpies again started slowly against Southgate. Magpies were two down after 13 minutes but were playing much better. Magpies hit back with two goals of their own through Ben Wright and Thomas Ridley, although a late Southgate goal meant half time saw Harleston 3-2 down. Harleston’s press was becoming increasingly solid and more and more counter attack opportunities were being made. The second half started slowly again but then 5 goals in 7 minutes, including a first ever Magpies indoor goal for Tom Hughes, with only one in reply saw Magpies take a 7-4 lead. Magpies looked assured and despite a late Southgate goal held on for the win and first points of the campaign.
St Albans 4-3 Harleston Magpies
Day two started with a match against St Albans, the only team to beat Harleston indoors last year. Magpies played a solid first half in what was a tight affair and with goals from Thomas Ridley and Chris Barber went into the break leading for the first time, up 2-1. However a sloppy start to the second half saw St Albans take control of the match. Three unanswered goals in 8 minutes proved too much for Magpies to come back from. Despite another Chris Barber goal Magpies couldn’t find the equaliser and succumbed to a 4-3 defeat.
Harleston Magpies 1-12 Holcombe
The last game of the weekend saw a tired Magpies team go down to a skilful and energetic Holcombe team. Magpies sat too deep and were unable to counter the opposition but were still disappointed to go down 12-1. The only goal coming from a Ben Wright short corner.
Harleston entered the second weekend knowing that 6 points would be the minimum needed if they were to avoid relegation. With the Sunday fixtures against National Premier League sides Beeston and Brooklands looking tough the team knew it was Saturday where points needed to be picked up.
Harleston Magpies 6-0 Cannock
Harleston knew that their strict training regime and meticulous preparation stood them in the best possible stead for the upcoming games. Captain Andrew Bedwell had placed extra responsibility on the players this year and here it came good. Magpies controlled the game from the start. The press was letting very little past and the forward line were finding good counter attack opportunities. The only thing initially missing were goals. Fortunately two goals in the last two minutes before half time from Ben Wright and Richard Larkin meant Harleston had the lead they deserved. The second half continued with Harleston dominating. Two more goals from Ben Wright along with one each from Tristan Baynes and Tom Ridley ensured a comprehensive win. In fact Magpies were so dominant Cannock resorted to playing with 7 outfield players in an effort to stem the tide. However excellent math skills from the Magpies’ captain caught them out before any damage was done.
Sheffield Hallam 3-6 Harleston Magpies
The second game of the day saw Harleston complete a thoroughly professional job in seeing off a young Sheffield Hallam team. A tight opening half had Magpies edging ahead 3 times through goals from Chris Barber, Jack Knight and Tristan Baynes. Hallam equalised in the second half but three goals without reply (Ben Wright x2, Simon Hipwell x1) saw Magpies take and maintain control of the second half and ultimately the game.
Brooklands MU 11-4 Harleston Magpies
After a good night’s sleep the Magpies team were fresh faced and bushy tailed going into the last day. Although their nine points did not assure them of safety, four results all had to go against them, including table toppers Holcombe losing twice. Magpies started the game against Brooklands well, taking a two goal lead after six minutes. However the previous day’s efforts seemed to be resting heavy in their legs and Brooklands came into the game scoring at regular intervals to take the game away.
Harleston Magpies 3-3 Beeston
By the time Harleston came to play Beeston (currently 4th in the National Premier League) they were already assured of their place in Div 1 next year. However Harleston were not going to lie down again for one of the big boys of indoor hockey. Magpies bolted out of the blocks with a goal by Jack Knight in the 4th minute. A goal for either side in a tight first half saw Harleston go in at the break with a 2-1 advantage. Two second half goals from Beeston saw them take the lead however Magpies battled to the last. With less than 2 minutes on the clock a swift counter attack saw Jack Knight play a slick one-two with Ben Wright before slotting home the equaliser.
Overall two excellent weekends saw Magpies finish joint 5th in the table with 10 points. This marks the first time since the 2008/09 season that the Men’s Indoor team have remained in a division, having been promoted or relegated every season since then until now. Ben Wright finished with 12 goals placing him 7th in the goal scorers table and thanks go to him for his coaching across the two weekends. Thanks also to Kevin Ridley who ran the bench and managed with his usual calmness and insight. Our thanks also go to Durrants for sponsoring the Men’s and Ladies’ teams and to all those at the club who worked hard to ensure that Harleston Magpies continue to punch well above their weight on the indoor scene.
Finally thanks to all who played. Magpies Squad: Jon Livings (GK), Chris Leek (GK), Andrew Bedwell (C), Tristan Baynes, Richard Larkin, Jack Knight, Thomas Ridley, Chris Barber, Ben Wright, Tom Hughes, Simon Hipwell.