MEN’S 1STS – NATIONAL INDOOR LEAGUE REPORT – Saturday/Sunday 5/6 January 2013

Harleston Magpies Men’s indoor team sponsored by Hunton Legg, Silver FX and Sam Moore Electricals (07543 779873) travelled across the country to Bristol to play the first of their four games in the National League Division 1 competition. 

The squad welcomed big money signing Gareth Furlong back from Sheffield University and Carl Sitch from Loughborough University as their two transfers for the competition. 

The team started the weekend with a game against outdoor rivals St Albans and Magpies went into the game knowing only a win would do as the remaining games for the weekend were against outdoor Premier National League teams and Holcombe who currently sit top of the East National League. Harleston took an early lead when Tom Graham finished a neat move with his first touch of the game. With the game in the balance Andrew Bedwell played the ball across to Tristan Baynes who moved the ball down the line to Gareth Furlong who played Carl Sitch in who was clinically fouled by the goalkeeper. The loose ball fell kindly to Andrew Bedwell who still had a lot to do to finish the move he started. St Albans managed to pull a goal back following a strong near post shot. Gareth ‘Big Money’ Furlong scored his opening goal of the weekend with a clinical drag flick. He soon doubled his tally with another well worked team goal. St Albans pulled another goal back before Carl Sitch scored his first goal with a powerful finish. Carl Sitch scored his second of the game when Leigh Sitch drove powerfully forward from right back before pulling the ball back to his brother. St Albans managed to pull two goals back but it was Magpies who struck the last goal when Richard Larkin finished powerfully from an acute angle. The final score finishing 7-4 to Harleston.

The second game of the day saw Harleston face a strong Holcombe side. Both sides started the game cautiously setting half court presses when not in possession allowing each team to try and play the ball to their forwards in space. Holcombe struck first when a slick move allowed them to score from the top of the circle, Holcombe’s class started to show and they soon doubled their lead. This setback sparked Harleston into life and they stepped up their press making Holcombe make mistakes at the back. Harleston pulled one goal back through Gareth Furlong with a low struck short corner. Harleston found an equaliser when Rhodri Furlong converted another short corner with another trademark Furlong low hard strike. Holcombe came again and managed to extend their lead scoring two quick goals. As stated by Mr and Mrs Furlong the goal of the tournament then followed when Leigh Sitch instinctively took a quick free hit just outside the attacking circle, he drove into the circle before slipping the ball to Tom Graham and the young forward slipped the ball back to Sitch who deflected the ball past the onrushing keeper. With Holcombe starting strongly in the second half they quickly scored their fifth and sixth goals. Harleston pushed higher and managed to snatch a fourth goal, when Stuart Leate snuck in to score low across goal. With Harleston now in the ascendancy they pushed forward in search of two more goals. With the team pushing so high Reece Leonard was exposed in goal and the team conceded two late goals to the leave the final score at 8-4.

On Sunday Harleston started with another tough game against Hampstead and Westminster. Harleston gave the National League too much respect early on and soon found themselves a couple of goals down. Hampstead could smell blood and pressured the two Magpies defenders making it very hard for them to get the ball forward. Harleston soon found themselves a third goal down when Hampstead scored a lucky deflected goal from a short corner. Harleston managed to grab a lifeline in the game with a goal from Rhodri Furlong who deflected the ball past the goalkeeper following a 35 yard pass from Leigh Sitch. Unfortunately Harleston could not build on this and soon found themselves further goals down, mainly conceding from unfortunate short corners. Sam Moore did grab a late goal for Harleston when an initial shot was saved Sam reacted fasted in the circle to smash the ball home. Hampstead had the final say as they scored their seventh of match to leave the score at 7-2.

In the final game of the weekend Harleston faced an unbeaten Brooklands team. Harleston pressed hard from the start of this game managing to snatch the ball high up the pitch. Harleston soon found themselves a goal up when Gareth Furlong finished off a well worked move started by Mark Wheelhouse before Carl Sitch doubled Harleston’s advantage. Stuart Leate soon made it 3-0 when he superbly rounded the keeper to loft the ball into the empty net. Brooklands did grab a goal back when they caught Harleston on the counter attack. With the scores at 3-1 Sam Moore won a short corner after another dogged and battering run down the right boards. With a clinical injection Tristan Baynes scored an excellent drag flick as he rounded the keeper with one swift movement. As expected Brooklands came at Harleston in the second half from the off but despite the pressure it was Harleston who scored their fifth of the game when Gareth Furlong scored with a drag flick. Brooklands continued to apply pressure and managed to drag themselves back into the game and at 5-3 Brooklands decided to take their keeper off and play with a kicking back. The numerical advantage soon paid off when they finished a slick move. With the score at 5-4 Harleston won another penalty corner which was blocked on the line by a player’s body resulting in a penalty stroke. Brooklands brought their goalkeeper back on but Tristan Baynes still dispatched the stroke with ease. With 10 seconds left Brooklands won a penalty corner of their own which they were able to dispatch with the final touch of the game leaving Harleston 6-5 winners. 

The squad travel to Bristol again next weekend to play their remaining fixtures against Havant, Southgate, Sevenoaks and Bourneville.