Harleston Magpies 8-5 Cheltenham
In the first game of the weekend Harleston played Cheltenham in a rematch from the first weekend. Harleston again started very well and quickly found them selves a couple of goals up Simon Hipwell and Tom Ridley. Harleston continued to press Cheltenham high up the pitch and extended their lead to 6-0 with goals from Simon Hipwell, Mark Wheelhouse, Toby Price and Chris Barber. Unfortunately Harleston could not see out the half and conceded from a short just before the end of the half.
As with their last encounter Harleston started the second half slowly and allowed Cheltenham back into the game with two sloppy goals. Both teams continued to trade blows like two heavy weight boxers with each team scoring two more goals. Mark Wheelhouse added to his tally from a trade mark short corner before Toby Price grabbed his second of the game after a mazy run. The game finished with the scores at 8-5.
Wimbledon 5-3 Harleston Magpies
Next up for Harleston were the Division 2 South League winners Wimbledon. Wimbledon boasted a strong squad which included ex Magpie James Osborne and National Indoor winner Adam Harper.
Harleston again started strongly in what was billed by the organisers as the game of the weekend. Wimbledon pressed Harleston high up the pitch which caused them issues and they shortly took the lead. Harleston responded quickly through another Mark Wheelhouse drag flick.
Harleston took the lead through another Wheelhouse drag flick. Wimbledon responded again and then took the lead. Harleston managed to equalise just before half time when Mark Wheelhouse completed his hatrick.
In the second half Wimbledon showed their composure as they scored a well worked corner. Harleston tried to grab a goal back but the tightest defence in the league could not be broken. With Harleston pushing forward Wimbledon were able to grab the vital 5th goal in a swift counter attacking move. The final score finishing 5-3 to Wimbledon.
Harleston Magpies 10-Indian Gymkhana 5
Harleston played Indian Gymkhana in a must win game in the first game on of the day on Sunday morning. Not notorious for starting well on a Sunday morning Harleston bucked the trend and quickly went 2-0 up with goals from Chris Barber and Toby Price. Indian Gymkhana did respond with a goal of their own. Harleston extended their lead through two more from Toby Price to complete his hatrick and one from Simon Hipwell. Before the end of the half Indian Gymkhana pulled a couple of goals back.
Harleston again started the second half running with two quick goals from Chris Barber one great deflection and the other following a great piece of skill. Indian Gymkhana pulled a goal back before Harleston turned on the style and put the game beyond any doubt. Goals flowed from Toby Price, Sam Moore and then Chris Barber completing his hatrick and Harleston’s second of the game. Before the end Indian Gymkhana did pull a goal back but this was nothing more than a consolation goal.
West Herts 7-4 Harleston Magpies
Harleston faced their outdoor rivals in their next game. The Suffolk side got off to the best possible start when they were awarded a stroke after 17 seconds with West Herts losing their goal keeper in the process. Mark Wheelhouse converted the stroke to maintain his 100% conversion rate. The lead was short lived as West Herts equalised with their next attack. West Herts then took the lead before it was Harleston’s turn to respond though Chris Barber. West Herts regained the lead just before the end of the half.
Calmness was called for in the half time team talk as Harleston were creating chances. Harleston scored an equaliser through Chris Barber before West Herts retook the lead. West Herts then extended their lead despite some resolute defending from star man Andrew Bedwell. Harleston pushed forward but it was all in vain as they could only manage one goal from Mark Wheelhouse with West Herts scoring 2 more. The final score with Harleston going down 7-4.
Harleston Magpies 7-0 Sheffield Hallam
With Harleston going down to West Herts they needed a big performance against Sheffield Hallam, another team that Harleston had beaten the previous weekend. Harleston started the game in electrifying fashion with two early goals from Simon Hipwell and Chris Barber. This rattled the students and to compound their misery Chris Barber doubled his tally after a stella run from his own circle beating 4 players before calmly slotting home before an emphatic celebration. Harleston did have Rees Leonard to thank for keeping their clean sheet intact with some super reflex saves. Sam Rowe showed his class by skinning Welsh international Gareth Furlong before winning Harleston a short corner. Before the end of the half Toby Price scored with a well taken flick.
Harleston continued to press hard as the second half started with more goals being added by Richard Hobley and Tom Ridley who deceived the opposition with a sensual touch. Sheffield pulled their goalkeeper to heap the pressure in Harleston. With the numerical advantage Sheffield created more chances but were unable to beat the inspired Rees Leonard. Harleston were then reduced to 4 players for 2 minutes. Again despite the advantage Sheffield were unable to score despite Will Blyth popping up at the back post. Harleston had not finished their scoring as Richard Larkin finished from a tight angle.
This comprehensive 7-0 victory left Harleston needing Wimbledon to beat Indian Gymkhana in the last game of the day to ensure their promotion back to the Division 1 National League. The final game finished 6-3 to Wimbledon which clinched promotion for both Harleston and Wimbledon.
A great indoor campaign for the squad saw them play 16 games, winning 14 and losing 2. A great squad performance over the weekend leaves the group looking forward to next season.