MIKE’S MUSINGS – 21 March 2017

MEN’S 1STS BATTLE HARD FOR THE THREE POINTS

There is more to writing this column each week than just putting words on paper so to speak. One of the first decisions is to decide which team deserves top billing and in doing so to make a judgement between the various competing egos. The Men’s 1sts say they didn’t get this recognition even when they beat league leaders Old Loughtonians away (correct – I was trying a different format that week) and the Ladies’ 2nds say they deserve the headline this week despite me reminding them they actually lost to Cambridge City 2nds. Yes Laura Tibbenham your team did play well and yes Katie Woollatt you deserve a mention as you played well!

I feel on balance the headlining team should have won so I have gone as you can see (and at last) for the Men’s 1sts just ahead of the Men’s 4ths with, in a generally disappointing weekend of only five league wins, a nod in the direction of the Ladies’ 3rds, Ladies’ 6ths and Girls’ Development and the Ladies’ 2nds for their excellent performance against Cambs City.

Tom Sumner

The Men’s 1sts went into the second game of their post-Wrighty era at home last Saturday missing five players (in addition to Ben) from their season’s strongest line-up against relegation threatened Saffron Walden and they had to battle hard for the three points after twice being behind. In addition to the loss of the missing players defender Andrew Bedwell was only able to play for a few minutes due to injury and he was replaced by Iain Cumming who did well in his first senior game for eleven years. Saffron Walden took the lead against the run of play before Thomas Ridley equalised at a penalty corner and the in-form Simon Hipwell put Magpies ahead after bursting into the circle before finding the net with a reverse stick shot. Inspired by their number 7 Matt Wells (the game’s best player) the visitors hit back and levelled with a penalty corner conversion on the cusp of half time. Soon after the break and with rain now falling heavily they regained the lead at another penalty corner only for Magpies to draw level with a superb reverse stick shot by their MOTM (for the fourth week running) Thomas Ridley. With time running out and shortly after being struck on the head by the ball at a SW sixteen yard hit Richard Larkin got the 4-3 winner for Magpies in a scramble following a penalty corner. NB. In case you don’t spot it the match report on the website was written by Larky!

Richard Larkin

END OF SEASON SENIOR AWARDS EVENING – TICKETS
THIS SATURDAY (25 March) 7.30 – 11.30pm Wortwell Community Centre IP20 0HS
Hot buffet, music, presentations. Please come with your team-mates.
FOR YOUR TICKET(S) (£20 each or £18 each for groups of 5 to 15 (subject to limited availability)) please go to https://hmhcawards2017.eventbrite.com/?aff=musings

The Men’s 4ths had to play their entire 3.30pm game against Newmarket 2nds in now steady rain and they played well to win 4-0. They were two-up at half time with goals by Alex Kilbourn and Lewis Belsey. After the break Newmarket hit a post with a penalty stroke and on other occasions were unable to find a way past George Baldwin our outstandingly promising young goalkeeper. Magpies ensured victory with an excellent run and finish by Arthur Johnson and a penalty stroke conversion by Luke Edwards.

Earlier and in the dry the Ladies’ 2nds played some of their best hockey of the season in going down 2-1 to league champions Cambridge City 2nds who admitted it was one of their toughest games of the campaign. In a top quality encounter Magpies deservedly took the lead early in the second half through Lottie Summers following a good run and pass by Laura Tibbenham. But City hit back and were level from a penalty corner within two minutes. Magpies then forced two unfruitful penalty corners of their own before City got the winner at another penalty corner with eight minutes left when a draw would have been a fair result. MOTM for Magpies in a fine squad effort was Jess Howland for her strong all-round performance.

In other home games there were losses for the Ladies’ 4ths, Ladies’ 5ths and Men’s 6ths and a walkover win for the Boys’ Development against Norwich Dragons’ ‘B’ who were unable to raise a full team. The Ladies’ 4ths took the lead through Molly Warnes against UEA 2nds before the visitors won the game with two quick goals while the Ladies’ 5ths went down 1-0 to UEA 3rds. The students scored early in the game and their goalkeeper made some good saves in the first half. Treacle Griffin played well for Magpies as did stand-in captain and MOTM Emma Tolhurst. The Men’s 6ths went down 4-1 to an experienced Norwich Exiles. For Magpies Graham Mobbs and Jack Largent had especially good games while their goal came from captain and leading scorer Eric Davy with his fourth of the season. As often happens with the sixth team of six in a club the team has had to cope with many changes and while the team has been relegated this is, frankly, no bad thing. Next season with hopefully a more settled line-up the team should be able to return to winning ways.

THE CLUB HOSTS POOL B OF THE U14 BOYS EAST LEAGUE REGIONAL FINALS ON SUNDAY so it is very best wishes to our team which has reached this stage of the national competition with wins over Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, IES and Norwich City. They play Cambridge City (11.30), Southgate (12.40) and Sevenoaks (1.50). The pool winner goes through to the national finals.

We had eight teams playing away producing wins for the Ladies’ 3rds, Ladies’ 6ths and Girls’ Development, a draw for the Men’s 2nds and defeats for the Ladies’ 1sts, Ladies’ 7ths, Men’s 3rds and Men’s 5ths. The Ladies’ 3rds beat Bury St Edmunds 2nds 2-0 with goals by Helena Knock and Katie Kinsella while the Ladies’ 6ths got back to winning ways beating North Norfolk 2nds 3-1 with Vanessa Vigrass, Annie Lancaster and Lydia Barrett finding the net. The Girls’ Development maintained their fine run and league leadership beating Watton 4-0 with two clinical penalty corner strikes by Anna Cogdell and further goals by Evie Brice and Alyssa Walker. I was a little premature last week in saying victory over Watton would clinch them the league title. They will do so if they beat Norwich Dragons at home this Saturday (10.45) in their last game of the season. The Boys’ Development will make it a very happy double for the club if they beat Norwich City away (5.30).

It was a particularly disappointing weekend for the Men’s 2nds. They went into their double-header requiring four points for safety and emerged with just one. Away to Upminster on Saturday they were 2-1 ahead after goals by Peter Bale and Martin Fields only to concede a penalty corner in the last second of the game. This was changed to a penalty stroke and duly converted. On Sunday at home against Shefford & Sandy (who had surprisingly lost at home the previous day to lowly Cambridge City 3rds allowing them to close within one point of Magpies) they went 2-0 up with goals by Archie Winter. After some splendid saves by goalkeeper Murray Graham S&S converted a penalty corner on the stroke of half time and this changed the momentum of the game. S&S then went ahead before David Francis made it 3-3 only for S&S to find the winner. This leaves Magpies’ Division One survival very much in the balance and only a win at home this Saturday against league leaders (and certain champions) Wapping 2nds (3.30) is likely to be good enough for them to avoid relegation with four teams going down.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Archie Winter (U18s) and Rose Winter (U16s) on being selected to represent England against Holland over Easter. This will be Archie’s international debut while Rose played for her country last season. Congratulations also to Matt Brand and Jamie Hudson on being selected to play for Norfolk O40s in the regional finals at Lee Valley in two weeks time.

After conceding three goals in the first twenty minutes to lose 3-0 against second-placed Sevenoaks the Ladies’ 1sts (who gave promising debuts to Martha Lawrence and Alice Woollatt) will hope to finish their season on a high when they host St Albans this Saturday (2.00). A point will ensure them of fourth place in their league while a defeat would see them overtaken by St Albans and possibly Cambridge City. Meanwhile Wimbledon seem certain to win the league title as they only need a point away to Northampton Saints who have failed to register a point since the opening day of the season.

The Ladies’ 7ths went down 5-0 to Norwich Dragons 7ths while the Men’s 3rds failed to score for the first time this season losing 3-0 to fellow promotion hopefuls Bury St Edmunds. Magpies are at home to free-scoring Newmarket on Saturday (1.45), the third team left with a chance of one of the two promotion spots. Even if they lose Matt Brand and his team will still have two other games in which to secure the three points which could secure them promotion although a heavy defeat by Newmarket would bring goal difference into the calculation. Meanwhile the Men’s 5ths lost 3-1 to an experienced Bury St Edmunds 4ths. There were some good performances by the Magpies’ youngsters including James Harvey (in goal), Louis Calvert, Hugo Thomas and Jake and Tom Caston. Chris Hall was on target for the team in the second half.

Good luck as always to all our teams this coming weekend. For most of our league teams it will be the end of yet another season. Please see the website for the full list of fixtures.

With kind regards

Mike Denham
[email protected]
21/3/17