Harleston Magpies Men’s 1st team travelled to St Albans to defend their title in the East Indoor tournament that they clinically won the previous season at Cambridge. The squad were missing their talismanic target man Chris Barber who is still recovering from injury and Sam Rowe (holiday) but were able to welcome James Meek and Carl Sitch to their squad.
Harleston 5 – St Albans 3
In the first game Harleston faced old rival St Albans. Harleston started well and soon found themselves a couple of goals up thanks Simon Hipwell and Toby Price. St Albans did pull a goal back but Harleston regained their two goal cushion when Carl Sitch slotted home from close range. Harleston took their foot of the gas in the second half which allowed St Albans to pull a goal back. Both teams continued to trade goals with Harleston running out 5-3 winners with James Meek rounding off the scoring.
Harleston 6 – Old Loughts 5
Next up Harleston faced a strong Old Loughts side. With Harleston only having 15 minutes between games it was not surprising that Old Loughts started the stronger and soon took a 3-1 lead as Harleston struggled to get going. A rasping half time team talk from Mrs Price and a team rotation saw Harleston fly out of the traps in the second half and turn the deficit into a 4-3 lead with goals from Carl Sitch, Simon Hipwell and James Meek. Harleston were now in the ascendancy and scored two more quick goals from Mark Wheelhouse and Toby Price without response from Old Loughts. Old Loughts tried to salvage the game but found Harleston goalkeeper Matt Collinge in inspired form. Old Loughts did pull two goals back at the death but Harleston ran out winners.
Harleston 10 – West Herts 4
In their third game Harleston faced West Herts, the team that had tormented them outdoors last season. Harleston started strongly and soon found themselves 3-0 up through Simon Hipwell, Toby Price and Mark Wheelhouse. West Herts did pull a goal back at a short corner. Before half time James Meek got on the score sheet following a well worked short corner routine from Richard Larkin, Andrew Bedwell and Leigh Sitch. Mark Wheelhouse added another before half time to put Harleston in a commanding position. In the second half West Herts took their goalkeeper off to give themselves a numerical advantage on pitch, this allowed them to pull a couple of goals back while Harleston adapted to the change. However with 10 minutes left Harleston found their feet and fired in a couple of more goals with Toby Price and Andrew Bedwell scoring, the later from a thunderbolt of a short corner. Richard Larkin in an advanced position found himself free on the left with the open goal begging only for him to see his shot from a narrow angle hit the side netting. Luckily 2 minutes later Larkin found himself in a similar position but this time found the net. Next up it was Tristan Baynes who fired home, at this point West Herts decided it might be best to put their goalkeeper back on. Harleston still had the last say when Carl Sitch added another goal and West Herts had their goalkeeper to thank for denying Leigh Sitch at the death with an outstanding diving save. After the game manager Mrs Price roused the team by saying “I thought you would beat them but that was an annihilation.”
Harleston 10 – Peterborough 5
Harleston knew that a draw would be enough in their final game to see them crowned as champions again. Peterborough who had played two games less than Harleston pressed high up the pitch which created space in the middle for Harleston to find their midfield and forward players too easily. This allowed Harleston to soon take the lead with Andrew Bedwell having fully grown into the concepts of indoor was dominating down the right creating goals for Simon Hipwell and Carl Sitch. Bedwell soon added his name to the score sheet with a back post deflection. Peterborough however pulled two goals back before Harleston found a 4th through Toby Price as he bamboozled the Peterborough defence and goalkeeper before finishing from a tight angle. Peterborough pulled a goal back to leave the half time scores at 4-3. Harleston again started the second half well and Leigh Sitch combined with Simon Hipwell for Hipwell to score a quick double and put Harleston out of sight. More goals were added via James Meek and Carl Sitch before Leigh Sitch scored the vital 9th goal from a well worked short corner drag flick from the edge of the circle which just had too much pace and accuracy for the Peterborough keeper. Peterborough did pull two goals back before Simon Hipwell finished off the scoring.
The results meant that Harleston maintained the East Championship crown and can now look forward to their National League tournaments in January.
Squad – Matt Collinge, Leigh Sitch, Tristan Baynes, Andrew Bedwell, Simon Hipwell, James Meek, Carl Sitch, Mark Wheelhouse, Richard Larkin, Toby Price.