Mens 2nd Team v UEA D 1-1
This weekend the 3rds faced a very strong UEA 1st team with a lot of talent. After getting caught on the break we conceded early on to a well taken finish from the UEA striker.
After this Magpies realized it was going to be a hard fought game. We had to be patient. About half way through the first half we were at our prime and moving the ball nicely through the defence, midfield and the attack, we were creating some good chances but couldn’t quite manage to score.
After an inspirational half time talk from Adam and Phil everyone was determined to go get a result out of the game.
After a quick start to the half from magpies we finally got what we deserved. After some quick inter play and taking the free hit quickly the ball found its way to Gavwho rocketed it across the face of goal before taking a deflection off one of the UEA defenders and smashing straight into the bottom corner. After this Magpies were determined to go get a winner but UEA had the exact same idea. After a big midfield battle UEA and Magpies both had the occasional chance.
Going into the last 5 minutes UEA were peppering the goal but after some outstanding saves from Nick Moss Magpies were holding in there. Then with about 3 minutes left we got a short corner of our own which unfortunately we couldn’t quite execute it. It finished 1-1.
This was a great point to put us in a good position going into the final stretch of the season.
Mens 3rd Teams v North Norfolk L 1-4
An unusually nice day in Cromer welcomed an experienced but youthful magpies team, hot off two comfortable wins and ready to take on a high flying North Norfolk.
The dressing room was also filled with optimism after an inspiring pre match rally from captain Lacelles in the absence of GB Masters Legend Cobbold and possibly because the hopes of post match fish and chips.
It started well, magpies went one up with a James Stacey spectacular inside 10 minutes, sadly, that was the beginning of our end good fortune.
North Norfolk then equalised from a well crafted short corner deflection which managed to outfox the usually lightning sharp Moss and Caswell-Dodd which created rapturous applause from the oppositions bench.
Norfolk Norfolk then scored again quickly just before the break and 3s went in 2-1 down, the ball was slotted home through mosses legs and his pink helmet was somewhat hiding his pink face.
The Half time team talk from Captain Lacelles had a tremendous Impact and Magpies went out and dominated the second half. At 2-1 down magpies thought they’d scored through Toby Hughes to regain the status quo only for it to be disallowed.
The half was sprinkled with flashes of brilliance from Hipwell and Taylor with Captain Lascelles throwing aerials like paper planes.
The half went on with continued pressure from magpies, North Norfolk playing counter attacking hockey forced a lightning quick stick save from Moss to keep the score at 2-1, magpies then broke and Hughes smashed the cross bar after running the length of the pitch to make it to the back post.
In Andrew Johnsons absence and with the pressure building Greg jagger took the mantle of burning bridges with the opposition and received a yellow card for dissent.
North Norfolk broke again despite pressure from Magpies and slotted the ball under the desperate diving Moss.
With the score at 3-1 magpies pushed again but could not find the break through. North Norfolk then broke again which led to confusion in the box between the usually dependable Moss/Caswell-Dodd combo, the ball flew in the air from a save ran down the back of the confused keeper and then ended up rolling home to leave magpies 4-1 in the red.
Once again Mosses pink helmet sheltering his blushes unfortunately it couldn’t do the same for Caswell-Dodd
And there you have it sports fans.
Sometimes you play well and end up on the losing side, leaving the pitch with black veils of melancholy, thats the way it goes.
Mens 3 V UEA 1 L 0-5
Mens 3s unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday against a high performing UEA 1s squad.
The Students put Magpies under pressure from the off with a high and aggressive press which caught the rapidly developing Mens 3s off guard, who struggled to weather the storm during the 1st half.
It didn’t take long for Magpies to concede multiple corners, all of which were clinically converted by the extremely well drilled students to finish the first half 4-0.
With some positive words from the more experienced members of the team at half time it was a refreshed and rejuivinated group who restarted the second half.
The half started a lot more positively with much improved possession and confidence for Magpies (particularly for MOTM Max), with several attempts on goal but unfortunately nothing Magpies were able to convert, the only goal of the half being for UEA another expertly deflected short corner which highlighted the calibre and quality the ‘promotion favourites’ have available this year.
A tough day at the office for Magpies (particularly for this reporter when exiting the shower), but a high quality game which everyone, particularly the younger members of the team will benefit from.
Bring on Dragons next week.
Mens 3rd Team v Norwich Dragons 1 (Home (L) W 4-2)
An unbeaten visiting team on 10 points against a home team not yet off the mark. A miss match? Well potentially. But the home players were looking at it quite differently and saw it as an opportunity, at home and on the water, to prove they could play in this league.
However the initial exchanges saw the visitors shading it bringing a couple of telling saves from George Baldwin in the home goal. This defensive strength certainly helped Magpies and gradually the midfield and forwards began to find some wriggle room, no more so than Kieran Peters. From a quick turnover he weaved from the right channel across the pitch before beating the keeper on the reverse. A goal you would be satisfied to score once in a season. But not for Kieran. About 5minutes later he was at it again with almost a carbon copy. 2-0 up, lots of quality and looking solid. Almost the perfect half which Kieran looked like he would cap with a hat trick after great work by Gavin Cole. However Dragons flew up the other end to secure a short corner which they would convert.
Dragons took this momentum into the second half and started to look the more likely to score next. But a resolute wall of white kept their opponents at bay and when skipper Matt Brand stole the ball and drove into the circle he did the only sensible thing and teed up Kieran to beat the keeper for a third time.
To keep the spectators guessing, Dragons would respond with a poached short corner goal but Magpies had the belief and with Jamie Hudson and Jack Richards (both fullbacks) keeping their side on the front foot a well earnt short corner was duly converted by Matt Brand; and the breathing space was again in place.
A couple of small scares later and the points were in the bag. 4-2 and onwards and upwards.
Mens 3rd Team vs Dereham 2nd Team (Away (L) L 0-1)
After an enforced week off Magpies men’s third team got back into action against Dereham 2nd team. Setting out to be well disciplined, organised and hard to beat the travelling team delivered on all of those things keeping chances of their opponents chances to a minimum. With the experienced pairing of Taylor and Brice looking on top of their game. When Dereham did manage to play round the Magpies defence it was debutant Chris Routes in goal who kept them out.
Slightly shading the first half play the home team had a goal lead to show for it with the experienced Mark Baybrook scoring from a broken down short corner.
Unusually for Magpies their forward play was not up to the usual standard and although this was identified and tackled after half time if proved to be a day where goals would not come. The closet attempt being when man of the match Dickon Taylor hit the post.
So the promoted third team, competing but still looking to put points on the board.
Mens 3rd Team vs Mens 2nd Team (Home (L) L 3-11)
You’ve got to love an inter club match! Well that’s what the large number of spectators clearly thought as the Men’s Third team hosted the Men’s Second team in front of a crowd which matched in size the national league ladies match that proceeded it.
No doubt hoping for a close match to get into they would have been encouraged when Gavin Cole, found unmarked in the last third of pitch by Robert Kinsella, took the ball around the keeper to finish and put the underdogs in front. However the best thing for the neutral spectators would have been for the thirds to have frustrated their “visitors” and kept the ball better but unfortunately several back to back errors gifted a three goal salvo which would effectively seal the match in the first 20 minutes.
Either side of half time it was good to see the seconds get into their stride and combine as a team to ruthlessly stretch their lead to 10! Jamie Legg deserving particular mention with 5 goals. It was a chastening experience for the third team players and supporters who have largely been untroubled at home for over 3 years but despite lessen odds every challenge was still entered into as if it was still 0-0 and every attack was supported by runners who looked like they were in pursuit of the winner not a mere consolation. And indeed latecomers to the match might have been surprised by the last ten minutes as the third team scored not one but two consolations, both claimed by Greg Jagger. Within this spell further chances also came from good work by Robert Kinsella, David Cadman, and notably debutant Kieran Peters. So, 11-3 but was the last 10 minutes due to compassion by the 2s? Or good commitment and fitness by the threes? The players and spectators withdrew to the bar to discuss.
Mens 3rd Team vs Bury St Edmunds 1st Team (Away (L) L 0-1)
Last season Magpies Men’s 3s & Bury St Edmunds were extremely closely matched with each fixture won by the home side. Other results meant that Bury St Edmunds would shade the season probably as a virtue of their first team status, but with the 2 starting elevens being composed of largely the same protagonists it was clear that we would be in for another close one.
The early skirmishes were shared evenly with Bury forcing a couple of short corners without success whilst James Stacey and Matt Brand combined down the right to pick out David Cadman who saw his shot blocked.
With the pattern of the game established both sides were looking to be physical and strong in defence and fast and inventive in attack. After 25 minutes one such fast Bury attack would turn Magpies midfield, and as they strove to get back into position a well-chosen pass behind them would allow Burys best player on the day to pick out a committed forwarded diving across George Baldwin in goal to deflect into the top corner. However with no reason to change things Magpies strove on and with the time at an end in the first half thought they had equalised when a squared ball from Jon Aldridge at a short corner was all but in but no final touch could be found.
With the home side realising the importance of an early season win in this much harder league they began to commit less to the attack. They still broke at pace but Jack, Jak, Jamie and Jon in defence limited their chances to one rising reverse stick shot and a couple of tame paddles. Meanwhile at the other end Magpies creative players were beginning to get more and more to work with and saw; shots well saved, shots on more than one occasion turned off the line or frustratingly hitting the wrong side of the post. And as time run out Magpies would ultimately be frustrated by a combination of missed opportunities or wrong choices.
With many candidates for Man of the Match it was narrowly awarded to Jak Middleton for his calm performance in defence alongside fellow candidate Jon Aldridge.
Mens 3rd Team vs Norwich Dragons (Home (F) W 3-2)
A friendly against one of the few teams to beat Magpies last year was just what was required as a sharpener for the forthcoming league season.
Norwich Dragons showed their quality in taking a 2-0 lead into half time. However the signs for Magpies were good, lots of attacking purpose and endeavour only denied by good goalkeeping and the defenders on the posts, with Phil Cobbald going closest.
The second half saw magpies take hold of the game creating the majority of chances. With enough chances to run through seven short corner routines it was perhaps fair when a return to the straight strike brought a goal for Matt Brand.
Good forward play continued with the exemplary James Stacey at the heart of it all. However it was his fellow forward Andy Johnson who would equalise when he smashed home from a tight angle. The highlight of the day was still to come when a turnover on the left back baseline would see magpies go the length if the field in a move that was finished by Morgan Manly concluding the 3-2 comeback win.
Magpies’ Men’s 3rds 10 Newmarket 1
After defeat to Bury St Edmunds last week Magpies were expecting a tough game against a Newmarket side just behind them in the league and especially since Newmarket had won the reverse fixture 6-1 just before Christmas. However with a full squad available Magpies felt confident that they could produce their best form when it mattered. As it turned out it didn’t matter as much as they thought, because despite playing some of their poorest hockey for several weeks they went into the break 5-0 up with good finishes from Tristan Hipper (2) and Gavin Cole and slightly scruffier efforts from Jamie Hudson and Matt Brand.
The second half saw both teams playing much better and despite Newmarket being much more resolute in defence they still found it hard to deal with a rampaging Magpies’ team who were clinical down both wings. Five more goals came with Tristan getting a third, Greg Jagger, who had a goal in the first half disallowed, adding two and Gavin and James Stacey completing the Magpies’ tally. It was not, however, the last goal as Newmarket would (in the words of defender) Tiger Brice (who was in superb form again) “ruin magpies afternoon” when they scored in the 69th minute.
So a 10-1 win, a top two finish and promotion guaranteed and with every team in the league beaten at least once Magpies can cast one eye over next season. Horncastle away anyone? However before then Magpies must complete this campaign at home to Dragons and away to Ipswich.
Bury St Edmunds 3 Magpies 3rds 0
After not being severely tested for the last 3 weeks Magpies knew they would have to up their game against the 15 man squad of Bury St Edmunds first team. Delighted to welcome back Phil Cobbald, Jon Aldridge, Jamie Hudson and James Stacey as well as coaxing one more guest appearance from Nick Whitehead, the away team were hoping that experience in the predicted close game would count.
As in most encounters between these two teams the first goal would be key and unusually for Magpies they could not convert their short corners or take a couple of early open play chances. So when Bury bobbled in a corner of their own the pattern of the game would be set. Bury, who have conceded less than a goal a game, defended robustly as Magpies tried all they had to get back into the game. Bury had a strong period just after half-time but goalkeeper Chris Flatt and his defensive team seemed to have weathered the storm. However, with the game moving on the push forward by Magpies left them vulnerable to the counter attack and with two ruthless breaks the game was settled. Magpies continued their good hockey particularly down the flanks with Tom Norton and James Stacey but a shut-out meant they came home empty handed.
Magpies’ Men’s 3rds 4 North Norfolk 1
North Norfolk were the visitors on Saturday and having put up a strong fight in the reverse fixture Magpies were expecting a tough game. However our north coast visitors have real trouble with putting out their first choice eleven and Magpies, with their own availability issues, looked to capitalize. Iain Cumming put Magpies ahead from a short corner, via a deflection, but this was cancelled by North Norfolk scoring their own corner. In a first half characterised by good intentions without the quality to execute them, it would take a goal from Gavin Cole to separate the sides at half time as he reacted fastest to a loose ball in the circle.
The second half saw some play more befitting of the Magpies’ recent form and further goals from Iain and Greg Jagger would close the game out at 4-1. An encouraging debut from Tim Goodge should be noted alongside the growing performances of David Cadman and Tom Norton. With promotion now a real possibility it is perhaps fitting that the next two games are against Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket as the race to the top goes down to the wire.
Newmarket 6 Magpies Men’s 3rds 1
If you have not lost all season then a loss is going to feel a bit odd and a 6-1 defeat is going to feel really odd.
It wasn’t for the lack of effort though and at 2-1 down, with a goal from Tom Norton, there was a game to be won. However the home side quickly scored a double which ultimately would define the result. With little between the sides in terms of territory it was Newmarket’s clinical breaking which produced two further goals in the second half making the home support very happy. The away support, however, will have to content themselves with the encouraging introduction of Tom, Rob Neal, David Cadman and Ben Kilburn; four young players from the fourth team who gradually grew into the game proving to themselves, the captain and the faithful followers that they are well on the right path.
A tough day on the pitch then but the coaches would tell you “you have to lose a few to appreciate the wins!” Onwards now to the second half of the season still top of the league!
North Norfolk 1 Magpies’ Men’s 3rds 3
On a balmy November day Cromer, bathed in that wet sunshine that it is famous for, was the destination for the men’s third team.
With very different records it may have appeared the North Norfolk would be swept away by a rampant Magpies’ team and when Greg Jagger smashed home an opener in the 8th minute this seemed the only outcome. But buoyed by many returning players this game was no procession, and when the hosts secured an equaliser through an emphatic finish of their own the game was set up for a close battle right to the end.
In the persistent rainshine both sides found it hard to carve out clear cut chances but two clinical Phil Cobbald strikes from two different short corner routines demonstrated that the third team did not just want to leave Cromer with wet kits and they duly secured a ninth win in a row. With notable performances by Jamie Hudson and Tristan Hipper, together with Lewis Belsey’s promising debut, the team stride confidently on to next Saturday’s top of the table clash against Bury St Edmunds first team.
Pelicans 2nds 2 Magpies Men’s 3rds 3
An away trip to Kings Lynn generally means you will not keep the same team as the week before but with a six players unavailable it may have seemed optimistic that Magpies could extend their perfect start to the season.
On a smart new surface and against a Pelicans team struggling to find form this season the reshaped league leaders started the game with typical vigour creating a raft of good chances. However, after 15 minutes the scoreline remained 0-0 and the home side was starting to grow in confidence.
With Magpies having no substitutes to call upon Pelicans may have felt they had weathered the storm but by committing more players to attack they gave the chance of being picked off. And regardless of the eleven Magpies are able to field there is always enough quality to play through a side who give them the chance. And so it was, a flowing Magpies move was swept home, from a season’s best six yards by Gavin Cole. And a neat restart around the circle allowed Vincent Leruth to find Greg Jagger to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
With the Harleston back four playing superbly it was always likely that a bit of luck would be required by the home side. And at 2-0 behind that luck came when a speculative raised cross/shot was deflected in. Not to be put off Magpies swept forward and a back post finish by Gavin would ensure a 2-goal lead at the break.
Much like the week before, the second half would prove a struggle with the away support expecting the leaders to kick on but things were not quite happening in the last third. A spirited Pelicans team stood up well and when another crash ball into the D was deflected home it guaranteed a frantic last 5 minutes (finally played under floodlights!) But if winning is a habit then the third team are hooked and closed out a seventh win in a row. Onwards to Sudbury 2nds at home this week.
Bury St Edmunds 2nds 1 Magpies 3rds 3
Having won the first 4 games it was unfortunate that 6 players were unavailable this Saturday for the men’s third team and their away trip to Bury St Edmunds 2nd team. And when Bury celebrated taking a one goal lead into the break it might have appeared that these changes had disrupted their serene progress. However what wasn’t on the score sheet was the hatful of chances that had fallen just the wrong side of the post or off the post or, most commonly, off the goalkeeper.
With instruction to keep playing the same the second half proved that the third team squad is rich in talented players. Alex K and David C making noticeable contributions, David on debut.
The arrears were quickly removed. The ever alert Phil C travelling into the vacant space in front of him before finding Gavin C who picked his spot. Then a short corner was stopped on the line by a foot which allowed Phil to convert. The next short corner was then put away by the captain Matt and the game was unofficially over. Sol B and Vincent L still had time to go close and with Tristan H, Jamie H and Jack R nullifying all break outs, goalkeeper Steve H, just back from holiday, had a chance to recover from his jet lag.
5 wins in a row and great preparation for the harder games ahead.
Norwich Dragons 2nds 1 Magpies 3rds 5
Over the years Magpies 3rds against Dragons have produced some classic encounters and having finished last season so strongly the hosts would have been hoping to force another one.
Magpies kept up their pattern of fast starts and early pressure soon brought a Luke E goal. A second from Jon A at a short corner and things were looking comfortable. But slick passing from the hosts would immediately half the deficit.
Back came Magpies and Phil C got his just rewards when he sneaked home a short corner, after it looked like the chance had gone.
Having played some seriously impressive passing hockey and taking a two goal lead into the break there was reason for optimism as the sides lined up for the second half. But at the same time Dragons may have felt they had weathered the storm as the movement and link play of Magpies could surely not be maintained!
A far grittier half was therefore required from the visitors as Dragons, determined to create another classic, stepped up. However when a simple triangle move produced a goal for Greg Jagger the game was effectively done.
With the remaining time, territory was conceded to the hosts but not chances. And a back four of Tiger B, Jamie H, Tristan H and Joe C shut down any opportunities; with Will G in goal superbly snuffing out anything that did creep through. Another Aldridge, Brand, Cobbald triangle would see Gavin C get on the score sheet to conclude events for another match.
Maybe not a classic this time, but with a notable team debut for Vincent L, Magpies will take a league leading perfect record into next week’s home game (3.30) against Norwich City 4ths.