Mens 1st Team v Bedford 1 (Home (L) W 4-1)
After last weeks disappointing result against City of Peterborough Magpies M1st sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops were determined to show the home crowd the fight skill that had seen them nearly salvage a draw rather than the lacklustre effort that had led to them falling behind. Frosty weather had curtailed the weeks training and even put the fixture in doubt. Fortunately Magpies manager and part time pitch inspector, Kevin Ridley, had prepped the pitch Friday night with his patented anti-frost measures. Come Saturday morning the tarpaulin was removed and a bouncy soft green astro was revealed ready to welcome an always dangerous Bedford team.
Magpies started the game at a high tempo with the energetic forward line harassing and hassling the Bedford back line. On the ball the midfield were linking well. Marsh, Ridley, Whiteman and Leate were distributing the ball with calm authority and the Magpies forwards and half backs were finding space down the wings. Magpies created the first chance of the game when excellent work down the right saw the ball slid into Simon Hipwell whose first time snapshot agonising flew wide of the far post.
Magpies midfield and defence were coping well with the Bedford aerial threat and the forwards continued to find circle penetrations although no end product could be found. With ten minutes gone Magpies knew they needed to make the pressure count and sent on supersub Andrew Bedwell to step up the pressure. No more than two minutes after the robust full back had come on and the deadlock was broken. Coincidence? A Bedford counterattack was smartly rebuffed and Magpies replied with a counter of their own. Good passing down the pitch ended with Spi Hipwell finding space in the D, with his usual calm confidence in front of goal, he smashed a trademark reverse stick finish into the bottom corner.
Magpies continued to threaten with their slick passing skills and strong ball carrying from midfield and another smart passing move found Richard Larkin free at the back post to double the advantage. Bedford were always dangerous on the break but Jon Livings and the back line were up to the task. Bedford were never allowed any clean shot at goal and were limited to a couple of short corners.
After an encouraging team talk Magpies were determined to put the game to bed in the second half. More magpie pressure resulted in a penalty corner and after the initial routine broke down Sam Moore was quickest to react. A smart spin and shot from the returning forward snuck under the gk and past the post man to give the home side the lead they deserved.
Magpies were controlling the game but with skillful players across the pitch both teams found themselves with chances to score. John Lvings had made a fine save to deny the visitors but good work down the Magpies right led to the away team converting a cross on the back post. This could have been a nervy time for Harleston but the home team refused to sit back and let Bedford dominate. Magpies continued to press aggressively across the pitch and turnovers were happening more and more. One such turnover led to a slick passing move that went from right to left before Simon Hipwell was left with a simple tap in after the Goalkeeper had been eliminated. This sealed the win for the home side although there was still time for another excellent passing move to find Tim Whiteman at the back post with and open goal. Unfortunately the ex GB player summoned up his international goalscoring form and deftly flicked the ball wide.
The final 4-1 result was justification for a very professional display from the home team who now look to end the season strongly.