MIKE’S MUSINGS – 20 November 2012

While several teams have a claim to top billing this week it just has to go to the Ladies’ 1sts who came away from their top of the table encounter with Sevenoaks last Sunday with a 2-0 win and the three points which moves them back to the top of the East Conference at the half way point of the season although they still have the return match this coming Saturday at home against Oxford Hawks (12.30) before the indoor break. This was a really splendid team performance with goalkeeper Megan Adams in sparkling form (in a defence which has been solid all season) and with two goals by Hannah Palmer from the most prolific forward line in the league.
Challenging captain Charlie Harrison and her team for the performance of the weekend was the Ladies’ 2nds exciting and well deserved 5-2 win over Ipswich 2nds last Saturday in another top of the table clash. After Ipswich took the lead Anouska Hipperson soon had the team level with a typical run and shot before skipper Frances Taylor put them ahead with a thumping shot at a shortie. Anouska scored two quick goals in the second half to complete her hat trick before Ipswich pulled a goal back to plant a few doubts in the minds of the home crowd before Hayley Toleman rounded off a wholehearted personal performance with the fifth and clinching goal leaving manager Nigel Wooltorton’s team five points clear before their visit this Saturday to Cambridge Nomads (2.00). Rumours were circulating that with QPR possibly looking for a new manager Nigel might be receiving a call!
Next up were the Men’s 1sts against Bishops Stortford who despite having had a literally pointless season to date had lost very narrowly on several occasions so nothing was being taken for granted with both injured skipper Mark Wheelhouse and former manager Robert Stimpson (making a welcome appearance before going off to see Norwich City beat Man Utd) looking on. Any doubts about the outcome of the match were soon removed, however, with two goals by Tristan Baynes (the second a quite remarkable reverse stick shot from the narrowest of angles) and a penalty corner conversion by Andy Hipwell past a diffident goalkeeper who played far better in the second half pulling off some fine saves. Tristan added two more goals before half time and a personal fifth after the break following a superb move involving Andy and Simon Hipwell. Sam Moore and Tom Sumner then got in on the act with two well worked goals before the visitors caught the home defence napping with the last hit of the game. This excellent 8-1 win took the team back to the top of the league with St Albans only drawing with Chelmsford.  This Saturday the team travel to play Blueharts (12.00).
Earlier in the day the Ladies’ 4ths won for the fourth successive game beating Thetford 2-0 (OG (sorry Treacle!) and Lisa Dobson) before the Ladies’ 6ths won again beating Breckland 3-0 with a hat trick from Vicky Blackmore (her first and last she said!) and despite her sister Jenny suffering the skipper’s curse with a ball in the face following Jodie Guest’s broken thumb last week. Luckily optician Helen Barber was on hand to straighten out Jenny’s glasses. It was good to see Graham Ramm umpiring the game – his first since his hip op last year. 
Later in the day the Men’s 7ths battled away against Bury St Edmunds 3rds going down 3-1 (Alfie Fawkner) while the Men’s 5ths played extremely well although losing 3-2 to Ipswich 2nds. After Ipswich took the lead George Moore waltzed through the Ipswich defence to score a fine individual goal (before going off to work at half time) and Deben Nelson put the 5ths ahead after the break only for Ipswich to fight back with perennial goal machine Andy Cook hitting the winner despite the heroic efforts of Steve Halliley who was outstanding between the posts.
The Men’s 2nds, 3rds and 4ths all went down away from home so they will hope for better luck this week. The 2nds were not helped when a navigational problem left them short of players until late in the game away to league leaders Ramgarhia so in the circumstances a 4-3 defeat (David Francis, Martin Fields and Fred Merrett) was a fine effort. This week they entertain Waltham Forest (2.15).  Please see the Home Page of the website for the full list of this weekend’s fixtures which include EHB Cup action on Sunday for the U14 Girls (at Dereham). U16 Girls (Pelicans), U14 Boys (Saffron Walden) and U16 Boys who play Norwich City (10.30) and Colchester (1.30) at Weybread.
Last Sunday our two U18 teams were both in EHB Cup action with both away to Norwich City in front of their enthusiastic band of supporters. The Boys had a comfortable 6-1 win with Thomas Ridley, James Graham (with an outrageous lob), OG (Dominic Absolon), Mitchell Tompkins, Tom Graham and skipper Giles Flatt (confident penalty stroke) finding the net with the strong management team of Kevin Ridley (leader) and Murray Graham (assistant and form filler) looking after the one sub! The Girls, with Nigel and Kira Wooltorton in charge, took the game to Norwich City from the start and were two up at half time through Rachael Herod and Jemima Jacobs. To their credit Norwich City continued to defend as if their lives depended on the outcome and it was not until a three goal burst in three minutes (Emily Brown, Rachael and Jemima) late in the game, as the temperature was plummeting, did Norwich concede again leaving Magpies 5-0 winners. Both our teams will next be in action on Sunday 3 February.
Finally, Diss Ladies HC are holding a Fun Fancy Dress Mixed game for Children In Need on Thursday 29 November at Hartismere School (8.00pm) and Lindsay Cates (Tel: 07951 714068) is looking for umpires. If you are interested would you please give Lindsay a call. Spectators will also be very welcome.
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With kind regards         
Mike Denham