Ladies O35 v Clifton Robinsons (Home (O35 Cup )W 5-0)
Magpies thrilled the home crowd with this resounding Investec Women’s Over 35s Tier 1 Championship semi-final victory playing quality hockey from the opening minute against a talented Clifton side. They threatened to open the scoring on several occasions but before doing so were grateful for a good save by goalkeeper Lucy King who was otherwise rarely tested.
In a superb squad performance Emma Lee-Smith was outstanding for Magpies with her strong runs at the Clifton defence and she put the home team ahead in the 23rd minute with a powerful shot from a narrow angle which evaded goalkeeper Sarah Ellis who had earlier made several smart saves. Six minutes later Emma converted a penalty corner with a powerful shot high into the net following some deft stickwork.
Magpies were now in total control with Frances Burrell and Debbie Francis in dominant form in midfield and their position was further strengthened just before half time when after a strong run down the right by Lucy Field the ball found Charlie Harrison to the left of the circle. By sheer persistence and aided by a first-class advantage by the umpire she took the ball along the goal line before squeezing the ball into the net.
Early in the second half Angie Wheelhouse, who had several times gone close to scoring in the first half, was unlucky to see her shot hit the bar before being cleared. Clifton, with Isabel Palmer prominent, responded with a spell of pressure of their own but the fourth goal for Magpies was soon forthcoming when Anouska Stott took advantage of a calamitous mix up in the visitors’ defence to ease the ball past the guiltless goalkeeper.
This made the game safe for Magpies before Anouska latched on to a through ball to race into the circle to fire high into the net to complete the scoring.
This has to rank as one of the finest home performances by a Magpies’ team in recent seasons and in the final at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre on Saturday 5 May (5.00pm) they will play Canterbury who beat Olton & West Warwicks 4-3 in the other semi-final.