Mens 5th Team vs Ipswich Cranes (Home (L) W 9-2)
Due to work commitments Cranes had only eight players available for this weekends match but to their credit arrived at Magpies to fulfil their league fixture.
Not surprisingly Magpies dominated possession but early on did not move the ball wide enough and early enough to find a way round the Cranes defence. However eventually the number superiority told and Toby Hughes opened the scored when a Tom Caston pass found Toby unmarked in front of goal. The second following swiftly after, Andy Caston volleying in a bouncing ball.
Cranes did not give up and Chris Flatt in Magpies goal was forced to make a save after 15 minutes with a well worked counter act and scoring opportunity. Magpies responded and at the other end Ed Brice put a sharp chance over the bar after a good first save by the Cranes keeper, Andy Johnson’s shot was illegally stopped on the line but Jake Caston hit the post with the resulting penalty stroke so it took Andy Caston to add his second to move the score board on to 3 – 0.
However, lax defending then allowed Cranes to get a goal back. Just reward for their hard work.
Tom Caston then made it onto the score sheet and just before half time Jake Caston add another to give Magpies a comfortable 5 – 1 score line at half time. The Caston family scoring 4 of these five goals with father leading the bragging rights with a brace of goals to his sons one a piece.
With the second half underway it was all going to be about moving the ball to spread play and open up space in front of goal. Quick decision making, unselfish play and pass quality would make the difference and when Magpies did this well opportunities were created. Three quick passes on the right gave Toby Hughes a simple chance to tap in from close range. When Magpies over-elaborated or became complacent Cranes broke down possession and looked dangerous in attack. One such Cranes breakaway led to a short corner and another goal, a well struck first shot, 6-2.
Ed Brice showing good control and a calm head made it 7, James Bensly made it eight and finally Tom Caston diverted an Andy Johnson shot which was going wide into the net to finish off the scoring…just before the electronic score board ran out of numbers. Final result 9-2 moving Magpies up into a mid-table position at an early stage in this years Division 5 NE league.
Mens 5th Team vs IES 5th Team (Away (L) W 5-3)
Magpies mens 5th have finally found that winning formula and goal scoring touch! An experienced IES 5ths started brightly pressurising Magpies from the start but Magpies determination shone through with their youngsters looking sharp in midfield snapping at the heels of the IES team whenever they were out of possession.
It wasn’t long before this determination paid off. Tom Caston stool a loose ball in the D and fired off an immediate shot which evaded the keeper, Ben Emms followed suit with a similar steel and tight angle shot to make it 2 – 0 at half time. However very quickly after the break Magpies were caught napping defensively and IES pulled a goal back.
In previous weeks this could have led to a collapse but not now, an interception, swift interplay of passes and James Smith added a third popping the ball in the bottom left corner when one on one with the keeper. IES responded with their second, Magpies hit back through Jake Caston, IES pegged Magpies back via a dispute short corner but with 5 minutes left to play Magpies secured the win when Smith was able to drive at the IES defence, pulling the ball back across the centre of the D for the advancing Caston – Tom adding his second and securing Magpies first win of the season.
Tom Caston just pipping Ben Emma to the man of the match title.
Mens 5th Team vs Norwich Exiles (Away (L) L 1-5)
The score line shows a comprehensive victor for Norwich Exiles against this young Magpies team but it could have easily been a victory for Magpies by a similar margin.
Magpies played their best hockey of the season and for some their senior careers completely dominating the game for the first 20 minutes. Ball control, creativity in attach, clinical defensive work and tireless off the ball running had Exiles back peddling and their goal keeper pulling off saves in every direction.
Deservedly Magpies finally took the lead in an unlikely manner James Smith defying his age to stoop low and fire in from the top of the circle a reverse stick shot.
However, it would now appear that this is the worst thing Magpies could have done. The team lost focus, purpose and drive and crispness in control and pass quality inviting pressure from Exiles who capitalised on two defensive errors to end the half 2 -1 up.
With all to play for in the 2nd half Magpies hope to start brightly but couldn’t find their earlier form until Exiles had completed their task of a comfortable win but credit to the youngsters in the team, with 15 minutes remaining that flair and drive returned and once again Exiles were on the back foot.
A tough day for all but many notable performances with Ben Emms and Ed Brice sharing the man of the match title. The aim of next week against the current league leaders will be to maintain that initial intensity for a longer period of the match.
Mens 5th Team vs Norwich Dragons (Away (F) L 1-2)
The weather stole the show and significantly influenced the result for the mens 5ths this weekend.
Magpies started brightly and were deservedly a goal up through a Ben Emms, a well struck reverse stick shot from the top of the D following a series of good interconnecting passes by Tom Caston and Ed Brice but then the heavens opened – and did it rained!
With the pitch flooding the umpires brought the game to a halt, 25 minutes later cold and wet Magpies returned to the pitch but had lost some of that earlier vigour and attacking purpose. Dragons seizing upon this and working an equaliser and if it wasn’t for a series of fine saves by James Harvey in goal we could have fallen behind.
The second half, was thankfully a drier affair for all and Magpies started to get back into an attacking mind set delivering a number of purposeful attacks many of which should have seen Magpies get back into the lead but in the end it was Dragons who found just a little more composure in front of goal and snuck into the lead with a matter of just minutes to go.
Magpies inexperience then began to show, with the team chasing the game just a little too hard in search of an equaliser, doing just a little too much with the ball or snatching at goal scoring opportunities. Overall another positive step forward in players and team development setting the team up nicely for their first league game at Magpies next weekend.
Men’s 5th 0 Bury St Edmunds 3rds 5
Often you write a match report enthusiastically to celebrate a victory. Rarely if ever do you feel motivated to write about a 5-0 defeat but Magpies 5ths result on Saturday does deserve some telling because for 50 minutes not only did we hold top of the league Bury at bay we made several good chances and a 3-1 advantage before the storm would not have been an unfair reflection. One efficiently taken pc and one contestable goal gave Bury, much to their relief, the ability to prise open our team with the eventual flourish of goals against a well worked defence and midfield.
The game started tentatively and Magpies, with the bare 11 comprising four over 50s, six under 16s and only one – new to hockey this year – who could be said to be in their prime, were defending for the first ten minutes whilst we introduced ourselves to each other. Our defence held strong with Seth doing a mighty CH/Sweeper job – in which he continued throughout – in tandem with Popey who probably made more decent hits in one match than his entire career. Jamie, left and Dolly, officially at Right Back snuffled out any attack and recycled efficiently. After an initial 10 minute period of pressure Magpies moved into the ascendancy and could easily have got a couple of goals with our midfield of Jon and Andy putting in a double shift and Saul and pacy Lewis giving Bury real headaches. Jack on the left deserves special mention both having listened to and applied the pre match team talk to the letter generating many good attacking forays balanced similarly by Morgan on right. But for a pc and a couple of defensive lapses, James in goal was hardly troubled for the rest of the first half.
No doubt expecting a comfortable win, the half time 0-0 was clearly a surprise to Bury and they came out strong in the second half clearly determined to try a more direct approach and get early balls into the D. We held out for around 15 minutes but inevitably we eventually conceded only our 2nd pc of the match which, whilst not the most brutal we’ve faced from a Bury side, was despatched efficiently. Even then we were still in the game but the second came as a body blow.
With elder statesmen of the team starting to flag mistakes were creeping in and Bury in the ascendancy took their opportunity, albeit with the suspicion of a helpful foot.
The ensuing collapse in the last 10 minutes followed with Bury ruthlessly and deservedly exploiting our loss in energy and positional discipline.
The purpose of the 5ths is to bring up the youngsters from junior to senior hockey and the positives of that first 50 minutes and just how well we played against a very good Bury side cannot go unrewarded in future.
Next week it’s Lowestoft Railway 2nds.
Magpies 5ths final game of the season was against Norwich Dragons 4ths. A win or draw for Dragons and they would see them crowned as league champions, a win for Magpies and we would finish the season in a very respectable 4th position.
However, rather than worry about the result the game was played with a few to give all pitch time and both teams opted to give all their squad a game and with bulging sub benches there was a lot of energy shown on the pitch.
In the first half both teams had their chances and both keepers came to the rescue on numerous occasions and a second similar tough half was expected.
Although the timing of the interval probably fell more kindly into Dragons hands, immediately after the break, whilst Magpies were settling a momentary lack of communication in the teams defence allowed the softest of goals to sneak in. Although disappointed Magpies regained composure and pushed hard to find an equaliser but time and time again Dragons defence made the crucial final tackle or block whilst at the other end Magpies had to work hard to ensure a second goal was not conceded with Jordan Wiseman in goal doing everything he could earning himself the man of the match title and high regard from the visiting Dragons team management in the bar after the match.
However, it was not to be Magpies day and the equaliser could not be found in this thoroughly enjoyable and hard fought contest leaving Dragons to celebrate winning the league and Magpies to reflect on a very good debut season in Division 5NE finishing a very credible 5th only losing 6 matches across the season but more importantly seeing our younger players develop very quickly.
Another difficult week with last minute team changes for Magpies Mens 5ths and the prospects of playing a fired up 6th XI but this time the end result was positive with a 2-0 win.
Interclub games are never easy to play and rarely bring the best hockey to the table and this was certainly the case on Saturday with the team struggling to find any real pattern or style to our play. Yes we had lots of good possession and in the 1st half dominated the match but too often it just didn’t click and goal scoring opportunities were at a premium. Fortunately from a 5th team perspective a slick exchange of passes early in the first half allowed Andy Caston to the opportunity to put Magpies one up and in the second half a well worked short corner allowed Sol Barker to double the lead.
However the story could have been very different, the 6ths had a series of short corners on the stroke of half time which, if it was not for Jordan Wisemans efforts in the 5ths goal could have easily seen the team to head into the break at one a piece.
Sadly, the result does mean the 6ths are now relying on other results to prevent relegation from Division 5NE albeit if this is the case I am sure they will be a very competitive team in the league below.
Another difficult week for Magpies Mens 5ths with last minute squad changes hitting the team hard. IES 4ths were therefore too wise and prepared for the very youthful Magpies 5th XI and they used their experience to open up a 3 – 0 lead during the first 20 minutes of the match.
Although in this 20 minute spell Magpies looking good in possession, when moving forward but the team just did not have enough experience and composure at the back to deal with the IES forward play and all agreed let 3 sloppy goals in handing IES a sizeable lead.
However, with Andy Smith arriving into the defence and Ewen Cumming making his return to competitive hockey the second half started brightly but against the run of play a text book short corner routine gave IES their 4th. In this darkest hour Magpies spirit then shone through and midway through the half James Smith found himself in the D with time and space to slot the ball pass the advancing keeper and then Ewen Cumming added a second with a fine reverse stick shot unsettling the IES defence.
If only a third could be found and the game could have faced a tense conclusion but this wasn’t too be although the quality of the second half display again indicated the potential these boys will offer the club over the next few seasons.
Magpies Mens 5ths finally managed to play out a full match on the water based pitch – our first of the New Year – and after a dis-jointed first half which saw Magpies score an on goal the team turned things round in the second half to record another Division 5NE win and cement our 4th position in the league.
This really was a tale of two halves and of one man, flying back in from his travels and with only 2 hours sleep Andy Caston made his return to the team with impact. In the first half whilst Magpies were struggling to find shape, form and rhythm his enthusiasm to defend meant that he got the final touch to a Lowestofrt Railway cross which diverted it round our keeper and into the back corner of our goal, giving Railway the lead at half time.
Then in the second half with much more shape and possession he scored our winner, this time a fine shot from the top of the D into the same corner of the goal. However this was not enough for Andy and maybe suffering from his travels shortly before full time he was judged to have professionally fouled and was ordered off the pitch leaving 10 men Magpies to battle through to the end.
However in this sticky final few minutes good resilience was shown by all members of the team, particular Rob Neal, Jamie Lawrence in defence and Jordan Wiseman in goal all making timely blocks, tackles and saves to keep Magpies in the driving seat and secure a 2-1 victory in a well contested match. Matt Bensly scoring the Magpies other goal.
Magpies entertained Bury 3rds this weekend who are by far one of the better teams in the league but with a tendency to be a little erratic. In the away leg of this fixture Bury were by far the stronger and should have sealed the win but for a last minute spirited fight back that saw Magpies snatch a draw. Therefore a tough encounter was expected this weekend but when Bury arrived with only 9 players Magpies confidence grew.
It was no surprise therefore that Magpies found the net early in the match an excellent flowing move of passes with Bury just not able to cover the entire pitch. Sumner fed Dolton, Dolton moved the ball swiftly to Pope and Pope slipped the ball right to the on coming Matt Bensly who just had the advancing keeper to beat. Matt made no mistake and placed his shot into the corner of the goal.
The only disappointment was that this was the only goal of the game, despite Magpies numerical advantage Bury worked hard all day and limited Magpies chances albeit Pete Dolton will rue the chances he had to make the score line more convincing.
However with a limited attacking threat Magpies did use the opportunity to test their junior players in new roles and gave Jamie Hinsley his home debut. The step up from boys development hockey is a big one but he acquitted himself well in the heart of the 5th team defence.
Magpies 5th match against Norwich Dragons was heading to be another hard fought encounter but at 1-1 the ball was taking on more of the look of a snow ball and the game had to be abandoned at half time.
Dragons had opened the scoring following an initial period of pressure but Magpies could have been comfortably on top with a half chance that was well saved and a missed flick opportunity before finally levelling via a short corner just before half time and the snow build up.
Hopefully the same form will be on show in March for the rearranged match.
Dereham Men’s 4ths 3 Harleston Magpies Men’s 5ths 6
What sounds like a comfortable win was anything but. Magpies quickly gained the upper hand and were 5 minutes away from going into the interval two goals up but a mini collapse and loss of shape lead to a Dereham fight back and at half time the scores were level at two a piece.
This comeback gave Dereham hope and it wasn’t long before they found the back of the net again, completely turning the tables on Magpies with a 3 -2 lead. However, the team rallied, regained composure and shape and slowly pulled the score line round, finally established a lead that Dereham just couldn’t fight back from with Rob Bensly, Rob Neal, Pete Dolton, Simon Newbery and debutant Jamie Hinsley finally getting the better of the Dereham attack and restricting them to only speculative shots as time ticked away.
Magpies scorers were Matt Bensly (2), the returning Jack Newbery (2), Andy Caston and Stuart Peters.
Harleston Magpies Mens 5ths vs Harleston Magpies Mens 6ths
Saturday 29th November
A very enjoyable club derby saw the mens 5ths come out on top but only just. Magpies defence had to stand considerable pressure throughout the match and the returning James Lane in goal kept Magpies 5ths in the match for long periods of the game.
However, it was the 5ths regular scorers of Matt Bensly and Sol Barker who kept their goal scoring run going grabbing one a piece at the end of each half to steel the win. Bensly capitalising on a loose ball in the sent the keeper the wrong way and was left with an open goal to push the ball into. Sol Barker striking the ball cleanly from the top of the D rising above the diving keeper.
With several regulars missing and injuries to James Smith and Jerry Blackmore in the last few minutes the work rate of the youngsters was first class. Jonty Herschel-Shorland tirelessly linked midfield to defence, Alex Lawrence tested defenders wits all match and Rob Neal had his best game yet for the team, solid in the heart of defence and even had a 5 minute sprint up front to finish.
Albeit Magpies 6ths won the better of the injury contest reducing Magpies 5ths team by two but only loosing one of their own!
At the mid point in the season Magpies 5ths are nicely mid table in Division 5NE with a number of key youngster for the future developing very nicely and the old heads just about holding together.
Ipswich & East Suffolk 4ths 2 vs Harleston Magpies Mens 5ths 1
Saturday 22nd November
Another day and Magpies would have earned at least a point from this match but a poor 10 minute spell in the first half saw Magpies give away two goals from which the team could not quite recover. Stuart Peters following good work by Matt Bensly down the right pulled a goal back with 15 minutes to go but despite great pressure and possession which resulted in a number of short corners and the ball whizzing past the odd open goal or two the equaliser could not be found this week and Magpies 5ths succumbed to their second defeat of the season.
Despite starting the match well IES 4ths were just too mobile and direct for the team in the first half. Their style of play caused Magpies problems in defence with players becoming free to often in dangerous positions. Jordan Wiseman dealt admirably with a number of one-on-ones and sharp shots but there was nothing he could do for the two goals which put Magpies on a back foot.
However the second half was a much better team performance with the defence settled, David Cadman, Rob Neal and George Ayling matched the IES forwards which gave Magpies midfield much more licence to roam and probe. Jonty , Matt, Keiran and Tom ran their socks off in the search of goals and on another day would have been playing against 10 men for longer parts of the game.
Hopefully the team will show their true character by bouncing back for the interclub derby match against the Mens 6ths this coming weekend.
Our best performance of the season so far – thanks to George Ayling keeping us in the match with a number of last ditch defensive tackles in the first 10 minutes as Ipswich 3rds look to over run Magpies defence. However sadly George couldn’t resit the onslaught for the whole half and Ipswich with another numerical advantage did finally find a way round him and they took an early lead.
Unfortunately for Ipswich this seemed to galvanise Magpies and with a few minor formation tweaks Magpies settled and began to dominate with Magpies midfield particularly getting control of the ball and winning back possession at their will when Ipswich attacked. It wasn’t long before Magpies started to get scoring opportunities, Jonty Herschel-Shorland having the best of the bunch with only the heroics of the defender on the line preventing the equaliser. At which point Sol Barker took control and fired in a delightful short corner to equalise and then had the ball in the back on the net only a few minutes latter from another set piece but this time the umpire cancelled out his strike on a technicality.
In the second half Magpies continued to look composed restricting Ipswich’s opportunities whilst probing for a second and when this came what a goal it was. Matt Bensley was set free behind the last defender and from the top of the circle fired the ball past the on coming keeper. His rising shot only just being contained by the goal netting.
All Magpies now had to do was close the match out for a well earned win and 3 more Division 5NE league points but a last minute rush of blood to the Magpies sweepers head and then his feet lead him to receiving a yellow card reducing the team to just 10 for the last 5 minutes. Ipswich threw everything at Magpies but it wasn’t to be there day and the final whistle arrived confirming a 2-1 win for Magpies 5ths.
A blustery day at the seaside caused Magpies 5ths problems from the outset with a condemned dug out meaning know where to assemble the kit or shelter from the North Sea breeze.
However the game started more promisingly with a lot of good possession and movement on the right albeit the heavy sand covering slowing Magpies game to a more pedestrian pace. In return Lowestoft Railway went long and fast at every opportunity and this was causing Rob Neal and George Ayling difficulties and just as we felt our defence was settling Railway managed to force the ball past all at the back leaving Jordan Wiseman in goal one on one with the Railway forward.
Jordan stood tall and came out to meet the on rushing forward but I his attempt to reach the ball just clipped the forward and brought him down. Railway converted the resulting flick.
Magpies heads didn’t go down and possession was restored and equalising opportunities created but it wasn’t until the intervention of Tom Norton and short corners that Magpies found the pack of the net. Smith injected the ball to Sol Barker who unleashed a great shot from the top of the D which Tom made certain of going into the goal deflecting the shot into the roof of the net.
At half time the game looked to be anyones and Lowestoft Railway pressed hard to find the winner but Magpies had settled and defended strongly breaking play up and counter acting at pace. On another day a number of such attacks would have lead to goal scoring opportunities, further short corner goals would have come and in the final minutes of the game the Railway keeper wouldn’t have pulled off a blinding save.
In the end a 1-1 result was a good point away from home.
Magpies 5ths were back on the road again this weekend over at Bury St Edmunds playing their Mens 3rd XI. From the moment Magpies arrived it looked a difficult match, Bury had an experienced club team on show against Magpies much more youthful look with 8 former development team boys on show.
However, Magpies, despite their inexperience from the start took the game to Bury, keeping their passes short and sharp resulting in a lot of early possession. So much so that within 10 minutes of the start Matt Bensley was able to work his way round the back of the Bury defence and pull the ball back across the face of goal for Tom Norton to score his first senior goal.
However, at the other end of the pitch Bury where causing Magpies as many difficulties with two very pacey forwards and deservedly they combined to pull back an equaliser before the break and then added a second when Magpies defence failed to clear their lines sensibly.
At half time and just 2-1 down Magpies had everything to play for albeit they knew it was going to be a difficult half against a strong opposition. Bury started strongly but Magpies held firm and then started to exert some pressure gaining a series of short corners. Sadly an equaliser could not be found at this time and Bury were able to use this opportunity to mount a fast counter act resulting in their 3rd goal.
With 5 minutes to go and despite being 3-1 down Magpies youngsters were still trying to do the right think and finally a bit of good fortune came there way. A Bury defensive clearance struck a team mate and fell kindly into the path of Norton yards form the D. The umpire waved play on and Norton slipped the ball pass the last defender to Stuart Peters who’s shot was kindly turned into the goal by the Bury keeper. Then with just a minute left to play Cameron Woodcock was set free behind the last defender. He confidently drove towards the D and with Keeper and defenders bearing down on him he slipped the ball across the goal for Peters to add his second and earn Magpies a point from the enthralling match.
Dragons 4th team are riding high in Division 5NE at present and therefore Magpies knew this was going to be a tough game from the start and indeed it was. Dragons pressed hard from the off and had a number of good chances to take an early lead but some good and sometimes last minute defending kept the game finally balanced at 0 – 0 at half time. In the second half Dragons continued where they had left off and finally found a goal forcing their way through the middle of the park and had men in the right place at the right time to follow up the rebound from Wiseman’s initial save. This lead could have been doubled but Wiseman pulled off a great penalty flick save to give Magpies hope.
Magpies, despite defending deeply were not out of the match and a good spell of attacking play late in the second half lead to a short corner from which Kieran Peters showed his father what to do and dispatched the ball over the keeper and into the corner of the goal.
Dragons were not happy and pressed hard for a winner but Magpies soaked up this pressure and tried to counter attack whenever possible using their pace to set up an exciting finish with a couple of short corners but the quality of the first could not be matched and the game finished deservedly 1 – 1.
Rob Neal, made his debut for the 5ths from the development team showing what a cool temperament he has under pressure and a real willingness to battle hard which will stand him in good stead over the forthcoming weeks.
Magpies Mens 5ths should have won their game against Dereham 4ths comfortably but as can so often be the case in sport early pressure and possession if it doesn’t lead to goals can be the undoing of a team.
Magpies threw everything at Dereham from the outset, Andy Caston just missed the mark twice, Jonty had a number of good short corners shots saved by the keeper, including one which involved the help of the post and Sol saw his well placed flick turned round the post by the outstretched boot of the inform Dereham goalkeeper.
And then Dereham had their shot and of course as so often happens in such games it went in.
The good news is that in David Cadman, Tom Norton, George Ayling, Cameron Woodcock, Jonty and Sol the club have a group of players who never give up and Magpies continued to press for a goal, moving the ball swiftly, taking on the last defender and battling against a team set on defence and defence only. Magpies finally got their reward with a goal five minutes from time when a short corner variation gave Stuart Peters the opportunity to squeeze the ball over the goal line between the goal post and last defenders foot.
The final result a hard fought and well earned 1-1 draw.
Magpies Mens 5ths tasted their first defeat of the season and got a thorough soaking at the same time away to Sudbury 3rds.
With one or two regulars not available the new look 5th XI struggled to settled in the first half and had to withstand a lot of early pressure from a well organised and determined Sudbury 3rds. However it was actually Magpies who opened the scoring. Against the run of the play Magpies broke quickly and the keeper could only parry the initial first shot back to John Pope who calmly lifted the ball over the keeper to open the scoring.
Sadly as the heavens opened Magpies shape and fluidity failed to hold together and Sudbury looked the stronger eventually forcing an equaliser when a ball struck outside the circle took the faintest of touches off the Sudbury forward. The lack of Sudbury celebration confirming the view of all but the umpire that there maybe wasn’t a touch and this gaol should not have stood.
Their second goal was equally as perplexing a cross turned into a shot taking all by surprise and leaving Wiseman to parry into his own net.
The second half was more promising from Magpies, a slightly re-shaped team and some improved passing saw a number of short corners gained in the effort the find an equaliser.
However it was not to be Magpies day. Magpies did get the ball over the goal line but an earlier infringement saw the goal not count and Magpies had to treat this game as one to learn from.