Mens 1st Team v Cambridge University 1 W 1-0
Magpies welcomed the University of Cambridge to the Nest on a bright sunny day. The University boys had started the season in impressive form with strong wins over Wapping and West Herts. The home team had recovered from a wobbly start in their opening games to record a hat-trick of wins and both teams knew that a win in this fixture could prove a great springboard to kick on to the top 4 finish all teams are fighting for this season.
Magpies started the game in a composed fashion, smartly deciding to play into the first half sun, knowing this act of swagger would unsettle the young Cambridge team. Harleston were happy to let their opponents have the ball in their own half but their organised structure and general discipline meant the visitors struggled to make any headway once they entered the opposition half. The Magpies front line harried and hassled, denying the Cambridge backline time on the ball with which to find their forward players.
Harleston started to turnover the ball and were looking dangerous on the counter attack. One such attack resulted in a short corner. Simon Hipwell saw the goalie go low and denying team orders fired a drag flick high only for the keeper to push up a glove and make the save. Magpies were buoyed by this and continued to keep the ball patiently looking for an opening around the Cambridge deep defence.
Magpies won another short corner after dynamic defender Andrew Bedwell scythed his way past two Cambridge defenders before sliding in Richard Larkin whose ball across goal found a Cambridge foot. From the resultant corner a well worked routine resulted in captain fantastic Tom Ridley firing in to the net from close range. One nil Magpies.
Magpies continued to control the play in the first half but were unable to add to their tally. Cambridge tried to play their patterns but in the Harleston goal Chris Leek was rarely called into action, being limited to a few clearances.
The second half started much as the first had finished. Magpies midfield preventing their opposite numbers from having time on the ball and the Magpies defence applying excellent pressure on any Cambridge forward who did manage to get the ball near the circle.
Cambridge did begin to throw more men forward and their constant running and disciplined structure in possession eventually created some opportunities. The best of these saw a Cambridge forward reach the byline where his cross found a teammate unmarked at the back post. Fortunately for the home team the University forward fluffed his lines and kicked the ball as the goal lay open before him. Cambridge did force a few short corners of their own. One was well saved by Leek in goal and then bravely scrambled away by the rest of the defence. Another was charged down by Spi Hipwell, epitomising the bravery and determination of the rest of the team.
The home team continued to create chances with Jack Hobbs firing wide and top goal scorer Dave Gilbert being smartly denied by the keeper after Dave himself had robbed the Cambridge defence high up the pitch. Even half back Will Tew found himself with the ball in the opposition D although a bout of lightheadedness from being so far up the pitch allowed a defender time to bravely block the resultant shot.
As the final whistle blew Magpies knew they had put in a performance of great character against a fit and talented Cambridge side. After the game captain and man of the match Tom Ridley commented. “It was a very mature performance. Every man put in a shift today. I was happy with my goal as scoring more is something I am trying to add to my game. Ultimately though it doesn’t matter who scores as long as we get the win”
Next week Magpies 1st team travel back to Cambridge to play City 2s looking to make it five wins on the bounce.
Harleston Magpies M1s 1 – 0 Cambridge University M1s