On Saturday, which should have been the last day of the season (before the weather wiped out two weekends worth of matches) Harleston Magpies fielded 11 teams to scrabble for the last few points up for grabs.
The Men’s Fourths found themselves at 3-3 by half time in their away fixture at Felixstowe after Toby Hughes (2) and Ben Emms had put Magpies ahead only for the team to completely forget their game plan and concede three quick goals. Playing fast and open hockey in the second half, Magpies kept the game mostly in Felixstowe’s half and Ben doubled his tally via one of the many chances that were created. Inevitably, Toby then popped up to score his 23rd goal of the season, resulting in a 6-4 win for Magpies who sit comfortably at fourth place in the table.
In the first of two games in three days, the Ladies Fourths welcomed Evergreens to The Nest searching for a more representative scoreline than of late. Despite having the majority of the possession and a huge effort from Sophie Maynell Anderson, Imogen Ramsdale, Cassie Ayms, Megan Beckett, Imogen Maynell Anderson and debutant Beth Moodie in midfield, Magpies were caught on the break and conceded the only goal of the game.
Monday evening’s rearranged fixture began in much the same vain, relentless pressure on the Dereham ‘D’ and numerous chances but no goals. The hosts scored twice against the run of play but, in a desperate search for three points, Magpies maintained the intensity and finally found the backboard. Goals from Jess Green, Alice Evans Hendrick, Helena Knock and Kara Kilbourn ensured a fantastic comeback and takes the Fourths into the Easter break one point clear of the relegation zone with two games to play.
The Ladies Firsts have secured National League status for next season following this weekends double header against Sevenoaks and Southgate. Sevenoaks were winning 3 nil when Magpies mounted a comeback via Lauren Rowe who slotted away a penalty flick after Aoife Lowe-Davies was fouled in the ‘D’. Magpies continued to press with Lucy Whiting, Lizzie Clymer, Emma Lee-Smith and Katherine Ridley causing havoc in the Sevenoaks’ half. Lee-Smith found the net after a goal mouth scramble to make it 3-2 and Lizzie Clymer got the equaliser with a shot past the stranded ‘keeper. Cruelly, Sevenoaks pulled one back before full time to snatch all three points.
Magpies started well against Southgate on Sunday and took control of the game when Lauren Rowe scored the opener from a short corner. Fighting to avoid the relegation play offs, Southgate dug deep and equalised early in the second half but Rowe claimed the winning goal for Magpies following a great combination by Clymer and Lee-Smith.
The Men’s Firsts got off to a flying start away at Spalding when Tom Ridley unleashed a reverse stick shot which a defender turned into his own net. Goals from Mark Flatman and Matt Bensley followed before Spalding scored from a short corner against the run of play. Ridley and Flatman grabbed another goal each before Matt Richardson swiftly dispatched a penalty flick, taking Magpies into halftime with a five goal lead.
Flatman completed his hat trick from a close range deflection before Captain Leigh Sitch got in on the action following a precision pass from fan favourite, Richard Larkin. Ridley finalised his hat trick and Tim Whiteman slotted the tenth goal home to take the team into the Easter break with the third best goal difference in the league.
Finally, huge congratulations to both the Boys and Girls U14 teams who have qualified for the England Hockey U14s National Finals in May after bossing the regional finals at the weekend.