BARFORD TIGERS 4 HARLESTON MAGPIES 6
Harleston Magpies Men’s Over 50s are through to the final of the England Hockey Masters Cup for the third time in the past four years. On Sunday in the semi-final they beat Barford Tigers in Birmingham by six goals to four and they will play Reading in the final at the Lee Valley Sports Centre on Sunday 3 May. Magpies welcomed back Bob Skinner and Alistair Williamson to their squad after injury but were without David Blackmore following his recent knee operation.
Roger Kent and skipper Jon Aldridge put Magpies two goals ahead early in the game following flowing moves before Barford enjoyed a good spell of play during which Magpies’ goalkeeper, and club chairman, Murray Graham was called upon to make a series of fine saves. But he could do nothing to prevent an expertly taken and fully deserved Barford goal. Magpies responded with two goals just before half time with Philip Cobbald combining with Andy Law, who was again outstanding in midfield, for the latter to make it 3-1 before Cobbald converted a penalty corner with a typically fierce shot to give Magpies a slightly flattering 4-1 lead. On the resumption Magpies using the full width of the pitch, in contrast to their opponents, took full control of the game with Andy Caston setting up in-form Kent for his second goal of the game. The hard running Caston then scored to put Magpies five goals ahead.
With the game won and Cobbald off injured Magpies also made several other changes to their line-up and Barford took advantage with three goals in the last action-packed five minutes. Their first was smartly taken from close range, the third gifted to them by an uncharacteristic defensive blunder outside the circle and the third came with a penalty corner conversion with the last hit of the game. Despite the ending this was a fine win for Magpies who will hope it is third time lucky when they take on Reading who beat Stourport 4-0 in the other semi-final. Three years ago Magpies lost to Richmond in the final and last year they went down to Yorkshire club Ben Rhydding. This season the squad has been strengthened by the inclusion of Roger Kent, Simon Bardwell, Andy Caston and Rob Bensly who have just become eligible for inclusion.