Mens 5th Team v Felixstowe 3 (Away (L) L 3-5)
Despite a lot of effort Magpies didn’t click on Saturday and returned from the coast on the wrong end of the score line.
A confident start was soon undone when Felixstowe scored from their second attempt at a short corner and then double this lead when a defensive mix up allowed Felixstowe to steal the ball and work it past James Harvey in goal. However just before the break Magpies pulled a goal back to keep in touch with the opposition when James Smith followed up a short corner flicking the ball through the advancing keepers legs.
With it all to play for Magpies needed to start the second half positively but Felixstowe took the initiative adding a third goal swiftly after the break and then a fourth. Now in serious trouble the tea dug deep Tom Caston and Ben Emms working tirelessly eventually found ways to score and bring the game to a nail biting conclusion. Ben Emms drag flicking a short corner into the gaol, Tom Caston firing his shot in off the post.
However with Magpies pushing for an equaliser this left counter many counter acting opportunities for Felixstowe. James Harvey made some fine saves but eventually was beaten by a well worked 5th goal for Felixstowe sealing the win.
Not a great day at the seaside but at least the sun shined!
Mens 5th Team v Cranes (Away (L) W4-0)
After the disappointment of loosing their first match since September last weekend the 5ths wanted to get back into winnings ways but with only a bear 11 available and a cold and wet afternoon the prospects did not look good.
However the team, in particular our junior players, played with a maturity, patience and confidence from the outset which was a delight to see pushing Cranes back into a defensive mind set and formation. As a result it then became just a matter of how would Magpies would convert their dominance into goal scoring opportunities.
With the Cranes keeper anticipating magpies attacks it looked like this was going to be a tricky afternoon but the pressure finally told and Bens Emms from a short corner used his skills and game sense to evade the on rushing defenders and then from close range fire the ball past the isolated keeper.
However it took until the final minute of the first half before Magpies could extend this leads, the Cranes keeper was making save after safe but eventually a defenders foot on the goal line gave Magpies a penalty stroke was awarded. James Bensly stepped up to make certain of a 2-0 lead at half time.
The second half continued in a similar vein but a shorter passing game developed as the weather conditions began to take their toll. Magpies athletic build’s suffering in the persistent rain and cold wind. However, it take a lot to dent Magpies youngsters enthusiasm for a goal and they still looked sharp in front of goal testing the Cranes keeper regularly. Tom Caston breaking the second half stalemate with a brace of goals towards the end of the half, the second the pick of the bunch, a rising shot which squeezed in between the goal keeper and goal post.
Man of the Match, Ben Emms never tired and lead by example from the front – one for the future and will need testing at a higher level of hockey very soon.
Mens 5th v UEA 3rds (Away (L) W 4-0)
An impressive performance by Magpies Mens 5ths resulted in another 3 league points and a comfortable score line in Magpies favour.
However a lot of effort was needed by the entire Magpies team to achieve this result. UEA 3rds were no slouches, fit, quick and well organised in midfield and up front but as Magpies found from the first attack of the game a little tentative in defence. From the push back Magpies exposed this defensive weakness and were unlucky not to be in the lead after just a minute. However it wasn’t long before Magpies probing found a way round the defenders for Lewis Belsey to tap into an empty net, followed quickly by his second. James Bensly restored to an attacking role then sealed the win scoring on the stroke of half time to make it 3-0.
With Graeme Smith marshalling the defence, Graham Mobbs and Oli Hall were in commanding form, missing nothing. David Johnson and David Cadman worked tirelessly all afternoon in midfield alongside debutant Ollie Shippam as a result of which the UEA keeper was kept nice and warm fending off attack after attack. In Magpies goal Nick Moss wasn’t resting on his laurels mind you and pulled off a couple of sharp saves later it the half to keep a clean sheet for the team. However with the second half petering out Lewis latched on to a cross firing the ball home from a tight angle to finish his hat-trick and the score line
Man of the Match deservedly Lewis Belsey.
Mens 5th Team v Felixstowe 3 (Home (L) W 4-2)
Today was all about Ed Brice, how quickly would he score, who else would he set up, how many times would he get round his opposite number. The youngest player on the pitch showing all how the game can be played in the modern era with tricks and skills that the opposition had no answer too.
Ed put Magpies into a first half lead with a reverse stick shot from the top of the circle which evaded the on-coming Felixstowe keeper and then doubled his tally and extended Magpies lead with a similar style goal in the second half, a goal which was even more sweetly struck.
With Ben Emms, Tom Caston, Jake Caston and Jack Largent all combining well with Ed and Jack working tirelessly supporting from defence Ed and the young lads tormented the oppositions older and wiser defence, leaving gaps for Magpies senior players in the form of Andy Caston and Angus Wilkinson to add a goal each and ensure the win.
The only slight disappointment, Magpies defence giving Felixstowe a sniff of getting back into the game with a couple of goals.
Magpies Mens 5ths are now unbeaten in 4 matches and take their new found confidence and form to the UEA next weekend for what is bound to be a more challenging match against a team equally as fit and quick as Magpies.
Man of the Match – Ed Brice
Mens 5th v Bury St Edmunds 4th (Away (L) D 1-1)
Magpies travelled to Bury buoyed by two successive league victories and much improved individual and team performances but knew they would be in for a tough match which looked even harder on paper when Magpies could only field a team of 11, very light on regular defenders.
However with a makeshift defence Magpies took the approach of playing the game in the oppositions half well away from our back line which proved very successful. Magpies dominated the early exchanges gaining possession and creating shooting chances but at half time the best the team had to show for this effort was a scrabbled shot that hit the post but rebounded to safety. However increasingly as the half progressed Bury got stronger testing Magpies defensive resolve albeit finding no way through to James Harvey in goal.
The second half saw an interesting twist with Bury trying to take the pace out of the game sitting back on holding the ball but as time moved on again the game opened up and both goal keepers were called into action to keep the game goalless.
With only 6 minutes left to play it looked at is both teams had settled for a drawer but Magpies youngsters conjured up an opportunity for Angus Wilkinson to bounce on a loose ball in the D and put Magpies ahead. Where Magpies able to hold on and steel a win, sadly this was not to be. With only two minutes remaining Bury stole possession and final found a way past James Harvey in goal.
A very enjoyable game for all, well umpired and played in the right spirit the end result being the right result for all concerned.
Magpies man of the match award being presented to Ed Brice, chief tormentor of the Bury defence.
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.