Harleston Magpies 3 – St Albans 4
Magpies, sponsored by Dynamic Club shops, hosted St Albans at The Nest looking to finish on a high before the Christmas break, while also looking for revenge for the 4-1 defeat suffered in the reverse fixture. While player-coach Ben Wright distracted the opposition management the rest of the squad avoided dawdling and warmed up like they meant business.
As the game started Pies immediately showed their intent with some slick moves. Before long, Jack Knight was played through and with clearly no other possible options he was forced to wildly swing at the ball, narrowly missing at the near post. Undeterred, Pies continued pushing and the game picked up to a frantic pace with both teams turning over the ball repeatedly. Eventually it was St Albans who broke the deadlock with a baseline carry before pulling the ball back to score. Magpies continued to push and created more chances but it was St Albans who would stike again when the usually solid Leigh Sitch misjudged a reverse stick pick and Albans snuck in behind to win a corner. Magpies didn’t stand a chance as the ball was riffled in at unstopable speed. 2-0 Albans.
After some stern words at half time, and much soul searching, Magpies returned to the pitch knowing that they had overturned a worse deficit to win at Old Loughts. This optimism was promptly tested when another Albans penalty corner found its way into the net. It fell to Magpies’ other centre back to provide uplifting words of encouragement to the team and it wasn’t long before the frontline made a breakthrough. Ben Wright made a good run down the left of the pitch and fortunately his mis-hit shot fell to Myles King, who confidently slotted home. Magpies finally started building some momentum and pushed to carry on the comeback and it wasn’t long before Knight collected a long aerial and was brought down as he raced past the keeper. Wright selflessly stepped up to take the penalty stroke and make it a one goal game.
Magpies were determined not to concede another and threw their bodies on the line when Leigh Sitch took a nasty blow to his knee. With the resilience of the back 4 allowing a platform for Magpies to continue to build on Man of the match King completed the comeback when he rushed onto Wright’s pass and pushed the ball into the bottom corner. The momentum was all with Magpies and when St Albans went down to 10 men, after a harsh yellow, Pies pushed for the all important winner. Another goal looked certain as the pressure continued to build but as Magpies piled players forward it was Albans who snatched the winner, catching Magpies on the break and rushing up the pitch to slide the ball under Livings. A disappointing result in a game the Pies will feel they could have won.
Photos courtesy of Pat Leate