Magpies Mens 1s 4-3 Saffron Walden Mens 1s
Harleston, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, came in to the game with a slightly depleted squad. Sam Paterson was missing with school commitments, meaning that Iain Cumming made his long awaited return to the first team. However, Magpies still went into the match full of confidence after last week’s gritty win in Cambridge.
The game started with both teams camped in the Saffron Walden half, but a failure to convert chances cost Magpies as a fast Walden counter attack led to the first goal. The home side continued to look dangerous with the ball and scored a well deserved equaliser through a smart short corner routine. Matt Richardson’s world class delivery was skilfully deflected by Leigh Sitch towards the target only for Thomas Ridley to poach the goal from under his nose, as he finally achieved his first goal of the season. With the momentum growing, a typically direct Simon Hipwell run saw him collect his own rebound and smash the ball home to give Magpies the lead. The advantage was short lived. With Magpies having lost their main centre back, Andrew Bedwell, to a groin injury, there were moments of confusion in the defence. Saffron Walden took advantage of this and converted a short corner of their own – Thomas Ridley, on the line, blown away by the sheer power of the drag flick.
A solid half time team talk from Andrew Bedwell (settling into his new player/coach role well) led to more pressure being applied to the visitors’ most influential player by Richard Larkin, leading to more turnover ball for Harleston. Against the run of play, Saffron Walden attacked down their right hand side winning another short corner after Stuart Leate’s mistrap inexplicably ballooned the ball high into the air. The resulting short corner was converted with another flick to retake the lead. This did little to change the flow of the game though. Thomas Ridley coming out of midfield with the ball, found his partner in crime Richard Larkin who, with some typically quick thinking, returned the pass to Ridley to set up the goal of the game- Ridley’s trademark reverse stick hit finish showed his class to his ever growing legion of fans in the crowd. With the game building towards a tense finish, Magpies needed to redouble their efforts if they were to come away with 3 points. Richard Larkin, leading the forward line, stole the ball away from the defender on the half way line before rounding another, only to be cynically brought down outside the circle, before he could get his chance to potentially score the winner- leading to Saffron Walden being temporarily reduced to 10 players. Larkin’s influence on the game would not end there though. Just as Magpies were beginning to lose hope, the man of the moment would step up to the plate. With the umpire playing a good advantage, Larkin was on his toes to react the fastest to a saved Vincent Leruth strike, pouncing on the loose ball to heroically turn home and take the score to 4-3. The drama was not over though, Magpies kept out a late corner and had to play out the last couple of minutes, before getting the result that their play deserved.
Photos Courtesy Pat Leate