Harleston Magpies indoor team, sponsored by Durrants, made the long trip to Bristol for the second weekend of the National Division 2 Super Sixes Indoor weekend. The squad went into the weekend confident following a strong display in the Division 2 North qualifier two weeks previously. The squad were without Toby Price and Louis Totton who were playing in the under 18 National competition and Richard Larkin absent through coaching. The squad also had to contend with a late call off from Simon Hipwell who was suffering with vertigo.
In the first game of the weekend Harleston faced a youthful looking Ashmoor side. Harleston started the game very well and soon found themselves 3 goals up through Tristan Baynes with two, one a tidy finish from a tight angle and the second from a corner routine. Ben Wright soon added a third from another corner. Ashmoor pulled a goal back following a quick counter attack before Chris Barber extended Magpies lead just before the break. The second half followed a similar pattern with Harleston playing attractive hockey and extending their lead with two quick goals from Chris Barber who grabbed his second before Stuart Leate finished off a devastating counter attacking move for Magpies. The score finishing at 6-1 to Harleston.
In their second game of the weekend Harleston faced Fareham. Harleston again started straight out of the traps and found themselves 3 goals up within 9 minutes with Ben Wright and Chris Barber adding to their earlier tally before Thomas Ridley opened his account for the weekend. Fareham did pull a goal back in the 12th minutes before Harleston replied straight away with a goal from Sam Rowe. Harleston were feeling confident going into the second half following their first half display but Fareham came out fighting and soon pulled a couple of goals back as Harleston’s ill discipline cost them a couple of green cards. However, the Harleston back line of John Livings, Leigh Sitch, Tristan Byanes and Carl Sitch stood firm and kept Fareham out until the final whistle. The 4-3 win placed Harleston top of the league going into the second day.
In their first game of the Sunday Harleston faced a strong Bournville side who they had narrowly beaten two weekends ago. Harleston again started the game well but struggled to create too many clear cut goal scoring opportunities as Bournville defended well. The breakthrough did finally come in the 12th minute as Ben Wright scored another corner and he soon doubled his and Harleston’s total with a neat finish from a tight angle. Bournville did pull a goal back in the 16th minute before Tristan Baynes restored Harleston’s two goal advantage with another well worked corner. Bournville started the second half the stronger and pulled two goals back to draw level. The momentum suddenly swung back in Harleston’s favour when Bournville were reduced to 5 players. Harleston capitalised on this and scored two quick fire goals from Carl Sitch and Ben Wright who completed his hat-trick.
The dynamic forward was not done for the game though and soon found himself back in the thick of things when he received a green card in the 38th minute. This allowed Bournville to pull a goal back. No sooner was player coach Ben Wright back on the pitch before he picked up a yellow card. With no time left on the clock Harleston faced a barrage of corners but the team defended well and also had the post and cross bar to thank for keeping their lead intact. The final score being 5-4 to Harleston.
In their second game of the day Harleston faced their bogey side St Albans who had topped the previous weekend’s North table. Harleston got off to the worst possible start as they found themselves 2 goals down after 6 minutes. Harleston did manage to slow the tide and started to create opportunities but were dealt a blow in the 18th minute when St Albans extended their lead. The second half started in the same manner as the first half ended with St Albans going 4-0 up. Despite this set back Harleston dug deep and goals were traded between the two teams with the final score finishing as a 7-3 win to St Albans. The Harleston goals were scored by Chris Barber, Ben Wright and Sam Rowe. The defeat opened the table up but left Harleston with the knowledge that a win or a draw in their last game would see them promoted back to the Division 1 League.
In their last game of the day Harleston faced Cheltenham who were also still in the hunt for promotion. Harleston again started well and went 1-0 up through Ben Wright. Cheltenham pulled a goal back in the 13th minute following a powerful run from their right back. This spurred Harleston on who regained the lead when Ben Wright converted from a short corner.
Harleston again started the second half well and soon extended their lead with good deflection goals from Thomas Ridley and Sam Rowe. Cheltenham did pull a goal back before Ridley scored one of the goals of the tournament after two bounce passes off the boards from Carl Sitch and Ben Wright allowed him to cooly slot home first time with an upright reverse stick finish.
Cheltenham were then dealt a blow when after a little bit of handbags from Stuart Leate and their right back, the Cheltenham defender reacted with a raised his stick leaving Stuart Leate reeling on the floor. The Cheltenham player receiving a red card. Despite the numerical advantage it was Cheltenham who added to their tally in the last 20 seconds. The final score being 5-3 to Harleston.
This win guaranteed Harleston top spot in the table and with it a return to the Super Sixes Division 1 League for next season.
Squad – John Livings (GK), Leigh Sitch (C), Tristan Baynes, Carl Sitch, Stuart Leate, Ben Wright, Chris Barber, Sam Rowe and Thomas Ridley.
Photos are courtesy of Pat Leate.