Harleston Magpies sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops finished the first half of the season by taking flight to Saffron Walden Hockey Club. It was a brisk morning and after a nervy pitch inspection was cleared, the wagons rolled from Harleston with the team determined to put in a good performance after two weeks without a game due to the cold weather.
Harleston began the game brightly with the midfield and forward line finding themselves in threatening positions and within five minutes the pies had won themselves two corners but failed to capitalise. Then, with Harleston looking to mount another attack, a misplaced pass let Saffron Walden start a counter attack which they finished emphatically to take the lead. Harleston reposed well though and man of the match Archie Winter scored two high quality goals. The first a rocket on the back-hand from the top left corner of the circle into the bottom right corner of the goal and the second, another classy finish, with a two-touch finish in the circle struck hard, once again passed the keepers left foot. Harleston then faced a mini-collapse with individual defending errors letting Saffron Walden score two quick goals to take the lead 3-2. Harleston however responded well and went into the break 5-3 up with two deflected goals. The first coming from Stuart Leate who converted a deflection with the natural finishing ability he is famed for after a superb delivery crashed in by captain Leigh Sitch. The second from Pete Bale who again deflected a hammer blow of a ball in from fellow full back Andrew Bedwell. Both goals coming with celebrations fitting with their superb finish. The third was a sharp finish from Jack Hobbs from close range after good work on the right from Sam Patterson.
Understandably, Harleston were disappointed with the defensive naivety shown in the first half and after clear boundaries were set, came out with a much improved and controlled performance that saw them score two more goals. The first was arguable Harleston’s best of the season. It started deep in their own half with Bedwell playing the ball into Hipwell, who then became the pivotal figure in a 6 person move of minimal touches that resulted in the returning Will Martin finishing from 6 yards out. A run away goal from Saffron Walden once again reduced the arrears but it was to be Harleston day when they scored from a short corner with Tim Whiteman latching onto a bullet delivery from Archie Winter with a single-handed deflection from an impossible angle that rifled passed the ears of the man on the line. Final score 7-4. Man of the match Archie Winter reflected afterwards: “we were extremely disappointed to have let in so many soft goals today but overall our attacking intensity and ball retention was massively improved from recent weeks. It was great to welcome Jake Sewell and Will Martin back into the side which demonstrates the strength of our squad. Overall it’s been a great first half of the season and despite the odd result, we have played some expansive, attacking hockey that has been enjoyable to play in.