Already promoted Harleston Magpies sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops headed to Saffron Walden to enforce their dominance on a struggling side who find themselves one off the bottom as the season comes to a close. The lads from the Waveney were in good spirits going into the game, one of the team back from the Alps with the vice-captain going the other way. Ridley Senior didn’t waste much time in reminding the team of their social commitments and the importance of attendance at the upcoming dinner dance, although it wasn’t long until he was rudely interrupted by Coach Tim Whiteman who yet again had forgotten his coaching board.
During the warm up it was evident that Storm Gareth was likely to have an impact on Harleston’s liquid hockey.
True to form Harleston imposed themselves on the opposition demanding control of the early exchanges. At points the opposition were able to show glimpses of ability however this was often soon extinguished by some good defensive organisation and execution from the black and whites.
It didn’t take long for Tom Ridley to burst through the middle and fire in a reverse which was easily converted by James Gray. As the control remained with Harleston much of the game was played in the opposition half which at times left the promoted team open to a counter attack goal. Against the run of play Saffron Walden used the long aerial ball with great success finding their sole high player in space who was able to craft an opportunity in front of goal which another Saffron Walden player finished. Apart from this slight setback the opposition posed very little threat to the travelling side for the remainder of the half which allowed Harleston to win many short corners, one of which was converted by league veteran Tom Dunnett.
Typically, Harleston tend to overpower lesser opponents in the second half of the game. This week was like no other, magpies opened the second half with more pace, purpose and precision. Like magic the team were suddenly able to piece together team play they had utilised throughout the season with great success. No pass looked easier than the next but the CM trio of Tim Whiteman, Pete Bale and Tom Ridley demanded the ball from all angles making life easier for the rest of the team. The sustained pressure made life very difficult for the opponents. Harleston were rewarded for their efforts through goals from Tom Ridley, Ollie Whiteman and Andrew Bedwell, two of which came from further short corners.
The result was never in doubt although Saffron Walden were able to take advantage of reduced team numbers from Harleston. Final result 5-3.