Category Archives: mens 1s reports


Mens 1st Team v St Albans W 4-3

Harleston Magpies Men’s XI sponsored by Dynamic Sport welcomed league rivals St Albans to the Nest on a fine Saturday afternoon. The touch of warmth and clear skies were a welcome sight to all before a game that had the hallmarks of a dead rubber, after promotion had been confirmed for both sides. However, the strong line-ups and professional approach of the two teams suggested the game to be played would be one worth watching.

Two previous stellar Magpies performances this season, both indoors and out, had the team in white and black consciously aware that St Albans would be seriously hunting for revenge. But an intense warm up and some rousing words from captain Tom Ridley ensured the home side were ready from the off. 

With the whistle blown, an intense first half was underway. Strong tackles, serious skills and an out of breath Ollie Whiteman summarize the opening minutes, as both teams worked hard to gain a foothold in a highly competitive end to end display. But it would be Magpies that felt the thrill of going ahead first, with Captain Tom Ridley demonstrating some trademark magic down left, creating room to fire a ball across the D, allowing a lunging Tim Whiteman time to slap the ball resoundingly into the Albans net. 

This kick started a spell of serious fight back from the opposition, who, with good midfielders of their own, found opportunities within the Magpies 25 several times. But strong performances from a back line led by Leigh Sitch and his sidekick Bedwell allowed Magpies to rebuff the majority of these, with a flamboyant but necessary triple save from keeper Chris Leek drawing admiration from the wide-eyed supporters. However, the hard work of the dedicated back line wouldn’t be enough to keep out the opposition, who after securing a short corner thanks to a questionable (but needed) last man tackle, were able to slot the ball into the right side of the net. A second quickly followed for the away side, with Magpies players scratching their heads wondering who’d allowed their man too much freedom. But the team culture of this tight knit Magpies side prevented any finger pointing, as the game at hand required total concentration. 

As the first half wore on, the high intensity of the game led to disaster for the home team. Defensive guru Tom Sumner, who’s performance up to then had been perfect for Magpies and a pain for Albans, was deemed out of action due to an ankle injury. But this years new defensive additions of Will Tew and Ollie Whiteman were up to the task, only mildly grumbling at the thought of playing more minutes. 

With the game restarted, Magpie went for the throat, displaying an outstanding few minutes of aggressive, high intensity pressure on the Albans backline. But as so often is the case in clashes between league titans, the hard working opposition defense gave as good as they got. Turnover after turnover led to sore necks for spectators, as the end to end hockey had coach Whiteman frustrated at his sides lack of total dominance. But it was during this spell that Whiteman was able to find redemption for his earlier lack of marking (St Albans goal 2), when he opted to employ a disguised ‘slow ball’ style drag flick for Magpies only short corner of the game. The balls relative lack of pace fooled both defender and keeper alike, allowing the home side to enter half time level with their opponents. 

 A determined team talk complete with tactical reminders from the Magpies Coach had the team nodding heads with renewed vigor for the final half of hockey they’d play this season. The intensity and commitment to fitness Magpies had displayed all year was apparent as the two teams lined up, with Magpies displaying a brightness about them, akin to the twinkle in manager Kevin’s eye at the thought of the beers soon to be consumed. This fitness advantage soon told, when, repeated high pressure from the confident Magpies forward line led to James Gray seizing control of the ball from the Albans centre back, only to drive into the D and unleash an unstoppable shot with his New Zebu hockey stick. 

The ongoing intensity of the home teams style of play, led to dominance high up the pitch. However with an Albans team looking lethal on the counter, an unfamiliar back two partnership of Andrew Bedwell and Ollie Whiteman following an injury to Leigh Sitch, resulted in an unfortunate opportunity for Albans to equalize and take the game to 3-3. Nevertheless, the attitude of the boys in monochrome prevented any grey feelings, as they steeled themselves to go again. 

The closing third of the game was awash with chances for Pies, as Raunaq Rai, welcomed back into the team after a stint of school hockey, was able to find room to turn for a spin shot. Other chances, for Dave Gilbert, James Gray, Jude Potruff and Richard Larkin all led to frustrating clearances. But it was at this point that the umpiring duo’s saturation for robust tackles was reached, with an uncharacteristic card for Richard Larkin followed all too quickly by a now familiar card for Will Tew. 

The shortage in numbers, not at all unfamiliar to Magpies, led to a spell of high stress for the home side as they worked frantically to ensure no errand ball entered their net. A goal line diving clearance from debutant youngster Jude Potruff highlighted the commitment all displayed, as the magpies team weathered the storm. Once back up to full strength, it was St Albans turn to be afraid as the confidence and ability of Pies shone through. Great efforts up front lead to a UEA Dave rocket gaining a deflection off of  Tim Whiteman’s Stick to gain the final goal of the match and thus victory. Whiteman, clearly unhappy with the lack attention a home match hat trick would bring, decided to use the games final moments to clinch a head injury that would thus negate his need to buy the team a Jug. 

It is with that, the Mens 1st XI sign off their final match report of the season and UEA Dave’s final game. The sight of his many goals, his eye-catching trousers, and his commitment to Magpies may be gone, but will always be remembered. The team would like to say a huge thank-you for all the support they have received club wide, from the supporters on a Saturday, to the many people who work tirelessly behind the scenes who have enabled us to progress this year. We say thank-you to the tireless work of manager Kevin and coach Whiteman, and look forward to the challenges National league will bring.


Mens 1st Team v Saffron Walden W 5-3

Already promoted Harleston Magpies sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops headed to Saffron Walden to enforce their dominance on a struggling side who find themselves one off the bottom as the season comes to a close. The lads from the Waveney were in good spirits going into the game, one of the team back from the Alps with the vice-captain going the other way. Ridley Senior didn’t waste much time in reminding the team of their social commitments and the importance of attendance at the upcoming dinner dance, although it wasn’t long until he was rudely interrupted by Coach Tim Whiteman who yet again had forgotten his coaching board. 
During the warm up it was evident that Storm Gareth was likely to have an impact on Harleston’s liquid hockey. 
True to form Harleston imposed themselves on the opposition demanding control of the early exchanges. At points the opposition were able to show glimpses of ability however this was often soon extinguished by some good defensive organisation and execution from the black and whites.
It didn’t take long for Tom Ridley to burst through the middle and fire in a reverse which was easily converted by James Gray. As the control remained with Harleston much of the game was played in the opposition half which at times left the promoted team open to a counter attack goal. Against the run of play Saffron Walden used the long aerial ball with great success finding their sole high player in space who was able to craft an opportunity in front of goal which another Saffron Walden player finished. Apart from this slight setback the opposition posed very little threat to the travelling side for the remainder of the half which allowed Harleston to win many short corners, one of which was converted by league veteran Tom Dunnett.
Typically, Harleston tend to overpower lesser opponents in the second half of the game. This week was like no other, magpies opened the second half with more pace, purpose and precision. Like magic the team were suddenly able to piece together team play they had utilised throughout the season with great success. No pass looked easier than the next but the CM trio of Tim Whiteman, Pete Bale and Tom Ridley demanded the ball from all angles making life easier for the rest of the team. The sustained pressure made life very difficult for the opponents. Harleston were rewarded for their efforts through goals from Tom Ridley, Ollie Whiteman and Andrew Bedwell, two of which came from further short corners.
The result was never in doubt although Saffron Walden were able to take advantage of reduced team numbers from Harleston. Final result 5-3. 


Mens 1st Team v Norwich City W 3-1

Harleston Magpies, sponsored by Dynamic Sports, welcomed local rivals Norwich City to the Nest on a day of celebration for the club. The ladies team had secured a impressive 4-2 win over Sevenoaks to secure their own promotion and whilst the men’s team had achieved the same feat the week before they still wanted to put on a show for the expectant crowd. Moreover the team wanted to bounce back from defeat to Bedford and step closer to securing 2nd spot in the table.

Despite not being able to fully capitalise on their possession with some uncharacteristically sloppy passing Magpies looked to get on the front foot and pressure the Norwich side into mistakes. This pressure told early and Magpies were awarded a penalty corner. Harleston were unable to convert however a misplaced pass from the resultant Norwich free hit went straight to Jimmy Grey who immediately fired the ball back into the circle. Fortunately the magpies captain, Thomas Ridley, was still lurking in the D and cooly deflected the ball past the onrushing keeper.
Magpies looked to kick on from this early goal but the team just could not get any cohesion. Mis-traps and mis-passes were mounting up and any the home team were more and more frustrated by their own substandard play. Eventually one such mistake proved crucial and a mistrap in midfield by Timmy Whiteman was pounced upon by the Norwich forward. Despite what looked like a ‘robust’ tackle on the player coach the umpires let the play continue and with the defence out of position the Norwich forwards combined to slot the ball past Chris Leek in goal.
Magpies knew a response was needed and that if their usual free flowing hockey could not be found they would have to battle through and get the win with guts and determination. Magpies stepped up the pressure and started to create more chances. A number of short corners were won and one such chance fell to injector Ben Gowing. The local lad, normally so prolific, had a heavy first touch which fortunately lured the Norwich defender into a clumsy challenge on the goalline for which the home team were awarded a penalty stroke. Dave Gilbert calmly slotted the ball home to put Magpies back in front.

At half time Whiteman had some stern words and the whole squad agreed that the quality had to upped in the second half. Fortunately the Harleston team started to gain more control on the game. The back four started finding their midfielders with increasing regularity and the link up play between the lines produced some much more fluid hockey. The home team were looking more and more comfortable on the ball and started to demonstrate the controlled passing game that has frustrated so many visiting teams this season. Unfortunately for the home team the one aspect of the teams performance that they could not quite get up to par was their finishing. Despite the possession and territory Magpies too often spurned good chances in front of goal or failed to turn good positions into goal scoring chances.
Eventually however some more excellent pressure on the Norwich defence saw Magpies win the ball high up the pitch. The ball fell to Dave Gilbert who shifted the ball round the advancing goalie and cooly slotted into the empty net. No less than the home team deserved.
Magpies continued to control the pace and tempo of the game but were unable to add to their goal tally for the day running out 3-1 winners. Whilst perhaps the team would have wanted a bigger win in front of an impressive crowd they team know they underperformed in the first half but showed the character, as they have so often this season, to bounce back with a impressive second half performance. A win next week against bottom of the table Saffron Walden will secure 2nd place in the league before the big visit of St Albans on the last day of the season.


Mens 1st Team v Bedford L 3-4

Harleston travelled to Bedford in what could be a season defining event, with the group knowing that a victory would ensure their promotion to the national league. 
The men started very well and were composed on the ball, creating a number of chances through Tim Whiteman, Ben Gowing and Tom Dunnett. Eventually the build-up play told when Will Tew delivered from the left and Tom Ridley slotted home a loose ball. The men then controlled proceedings yet found themselves at 1-1 when an opposition player appeared open at the top of the circle and narrowly slotted home with Leigh Sitch nearly averting a certain goal. Beford then had their best spell and towards the end of the half scored another, this time from a corner breakdown through a strong reverse stick strike. HT: 1-2. 
The men knew they had to improve and after some honest reflections, the group came out for the second half with a much better tempo, playing the ball around with purpose and intent. Their improved displayed payed off  through a smart corner routine that ended up with Dave Gilbert rifling home. With the game evenly poised Harleston now looked to kick on but unfortunately were the architects of their own downfall with some sloppy outletting which gifted Bedford their 3rd goal. Again, Harleston regained composure and levelled again through man of the match Ridley with a powerful strike into the bottom corner after good work from Simon Hipwell in the circle. With 15 minutes left, it appeared that Harleston were the more likely to push on a grab that all important victory. Harleston however weren’t at their best failed to grasp their opportunity. In the last 7 minutes Bedford were award a controversial penalty stroke that unfortunately decided the fate of the game. Harleston pushed hard but it wasn’t to be and their promotion party would have to wait another week….or would it? In the bar afterwards news came in that West Herts had failed to beat Saffron Walden meaning Harleston were promoted! A sureal way to secure promotion and somewhat of an anti-climax after the loss, but promotion all the same. The men set their sights on promotion back in July and through hard work and commitment, they achieved it. A huge thanks to all the players for their commitment throughout the season and especially to manager Kevin Ridley for his work behind the scenes over the past 2 seasons. Harleston have 3 games left in East Prem A, starting next week against Norwich City. Please come down to support the group and celebrate their success in the bar afterwards. 


Mens 1st Team vCambridge City 2s W 2-1

Harleston Magpies Mens first team, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, hosted Cambridge City 2s at Weybread on Saturday afternoon. After 5 wins in a row, a 6th win would move Harleston one step closer to a well deserved return to national league. Manager K.Ridley prepared and delivered a speech demanding that there was focus from the word go and the values of the squad were adhered to. Magpies knew this was a potential banana skin and that Cambridge deserved respect. 
When the teams met earlier in the season magpies controlled the game, but struggled to breakdown a well organised City side. This seemed to be the case again. For the first 10 minutes, Harleston had the majority of possession but struggled to penetrate the circle as their opposition implemented the half court press and were happy to soak up pressure. Richard Gill and Tom Ridley wanted patience in the build up and expressed the need to use the wide channels in order to find the space. 
It wasn’t until late in the first half that the deadlock was broken. Turnover ball in midfield, followed by a strong run from captain Tom Ridley created space for Simon Hipwell to tidy up a loose ball and slot home from 5 yards, adding to his impressive goal tally for the club. The whole of Weybread breathed a little easier heading into half time.
Harleston knew they were in 2nd gear, weren’t working hard enough off the ball, and were making too many individual errors. But were pleased to be leading and hoping to use the first half as a stepping stone for a flurry of goals in the second half.
A good start, with lots of possession, a high tempo and good ball pace enabled magpies to play their style in the right areas of the pitch, unfortunately they couldn’t find the all important second goal through open play or a short corner routine. 
Resilience, determination and self belief have been a large part of the success in this campaign, and once again the magpies had to dig deep in order to take all 3 points, as with 20 minutes to go, City scored a penalty corner to draw level. Many of the supporters would have felt aggrieved after so much control, but Harleston only had themselves to blame for not closing this game out already.
Like so many times this season, the belief was in tact, and after patient build up it was in fact Dave Skinner who found the winner, with a neat and composed finish at the back post. Skinner dedicated the goal to his new born son. 
Cambridge did win two late penalty corners which caused nervy moments, however the short corner defence team excelled and kept City at bay. Magpies then took the heat out of the game, and ensured that they closed the game out without a late equaliser
This was Jack Hobbs last game for the club, and the side will miss his contributions for the remainder of the season. He now heads off travelling via Exeter. The squad wishes him well. 
The team has four games left of the season, up next an away game at Bedford.


Mens 1st Team v Cambridge University W 4-3

Harleston Magpies Mens first team, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, travelled to the home of the University of Cambridge at Wilberforce Sports Ground looking to further cement their top four position. They were greeted by gale-force winds but also welcome support from stalwart club members. Manager K.Ridley had delivered a powerful message on local radio this week but the team knew this was going to be challenging encounter against their rivals for promotion.
After a slightly rushed warm up, organised by captain T.Ridley, the teams lined up for the crucial clash. The reverse fixture had seen Magpies control and win the game using a half court press and it was clear from the get-go that the scholars had prepared for the same. A quick tempo from the students allowed them to dominate the early exchanges and they were rewarded with the lead when a crash ball looped off O.Whiteman’s stick gifting an opposition forward a volleyed tap-in past the stranded Leek. Despite further control of possession by the home team, a moment of excellent individual work down the left resulted in Hobbs entering the circle and unleashing his trusted backhand to pull Magpies level. Ably assisted by his forward colleague Gilbert. Following the equaliser the game settled down and Magpies’ disciplined formation stifled the young light blues for long periods. 
Unfortunately, it was a controversial moment that led to the home side regaining the advantage. Bale was robbed illegally in midfield but despite his strong appeals, Cambridge were allowed to advance and after a melee in the circle the ball fell to a light blue shirt who dispatched the ball into the corner of the goal, leaving Leek no chance. On reflection this injustice may have been the pivotal moment of the match. Magpies stepped up their game with coach T.Whiteman and T.Ridley leading from the front to carve out a number of attacks. It was the latter who quickly pulled Magpies level for the second time, exploiting hesitancy from the youthful defence to drive into the right side of the D and smash home a crisp strike. Magpies then began to play some of their trademark attacking hockey but their sharp connections fell just short and prevented them adding to the scoring. The half ended with Magpies absorbing a few attack’s but calm defending from the experienced back four maintained the score at evens.
Following a considered team talk, Magpies started the second half well and began to utilise their new formation to good effect. Unfortunately, a moment of ill discipline (possibly from lack of sleep) led to new father Skinner receiving a green card and reducing the visitors to ten. Instead of being detrimental this spurred Pies on and some slick work down the right from O.Whiteman and the Skipper resulted in a special cross which allowed “UEA Dave – Fox in the box” Gilbert the chance adjust and roll the ball home for a first time Magpies lead. Cambridge soon lost a man themselves and within minutes Magpies were at it again with T.Whiteman bamboozling four defenders before drawing a foul. T.Ridley stepped over the ball, carried hard and crossed for the teams other poacher Gray, who made no mistake giving Magpies a two goal cushion (4-2). 
Magpies worked hard to limit the home team as they strived to get back into the match. It was another umpiring decision that allowed the hosts pull a goal back. Sitch appeared to make one of his customary well timed tackles in the circle, only to be punished with a short corner. The students grabbed this gift with both hands and used their intelligence to pull off a well timed spin routine, which provided their striker with a close range drag flick into the roof. Magpies were forced to soak up further pressure soon after and survived two more short corners, one of which saw Leek use his agility to push the ball round the post, much to the delight of the cameraman.
In the last 10minutes Magpies demonstrated their growth and development as a side over the last two seasons. Despite further green cards for both Gilbert and Hobbs, the team maintained their poise, concentration and short interplay to see the game through. Notable examples of this included Gowing and Tew who stole valuable yards and time down the left. In the end though it was the flair of Magpies’ player-coach and captain who ran down the clock to give Magpies another important victory. 
The team has five games left of the season and if they can maintain this form and focus, a return to the National league is in their own hands.


Mens 1st Team v Chelmsford W 4-1

Harleston sponsored by Dynamic  Club Shops welcomed Chelmsford hoping to continue their good run of form. With many other games called off, Harleston had the chance to put some breathing space between them and the teams below. After a morning weather report from manager Kevin Ridley, the team prepared for a cold wintery day at The Nest.

The team welcomed back Ben Gowing, Will Tew and Tom Dunnett into the squad after a mid-season break and gave Ollie Juszt in goal his 1st team debut fresh after being selected for the England U18 side. With a motivation team talk by captain Ridley and coach Whiteman, Harleston started the stronger making some good link up play down the right with Tom Sumner and Dave Gilbert. But it was Chelmsford who created the first big chance on the counter-attack with a shot/cross but the deflection was missed.

With this scare, Harleston kicked up a gear pressing high and so winning a lot of high ball from the likes of James Gray. Chelmsford always had a threat from a long ball forward and crosses out wide, one of which finding a Magpies foot resulting in a short corner. A strong hand from the young keeper Ollie Juszt and a clearance wide by Leigh Sitch found Tom Ridley, who quickly passed the ball down the line catching Chelmsford off-guard. Tom Dunnett threaded a pin-point pass to Ben Gowing on the edge of D and with his first 2 touches of the game slotted the ball past the keeper to make it 1-0.

It was soon 2-0 with some neat work down the left from the birthday boy Andrew Bedwell and Will Tew finding Raunaq ‘King Ron’ Rai who turned and quickly got a shot off, smashing into the back-board. Magpies continued to have much of the possession but some sloppy passing gave the opposition opportunities to get on the scoreboard. This proved costly as a penalty flick was given from a broken down short corner which despite a touch from the keeper, it was too powerful and made the score 2-1.

With 2 minutes left to play in the first half, a swooping move down the right with Tom Sumner, Tim Whiteman and Thomas Ridley all linking together a wonderful opportunity arised. A neat touch from Tim Whiteman found Tom Ridley on the edge of the D, taking it onto his favoured reverse stick but an outreached hand from Chelmsford’s keeper somehow kept it out. Half time score 2-1.

With the supporters wanting more from the Men in the second half, Magpies controlled the game finding gaps in the Chelmsford press and playing forwards as much as possible. The continued pressure soon became too much and a short corner was awarded. A well worked routine from the duo of Andrew Bedwell linking up with his partner in crime Leigh Sitch for a diving deflection past the keeper resulting in jubilant celebrations.

The weather soon turned but Harleston did not take their foot off the pedal with plenty of men getting into scoring opportunities. Some slick 3D skills from Raunaq Rai found Tom Dunnett at the back post who volleyed it home from 2 yards to make it 4-1. The last 15 minutes was an uneventful end with the opposition sitting deep and allowing the likes of Pete Bale and Jack Hobbs plenty of time and space on the ball. A few more half chances were had but the shots just going wide of target.

Final score 4-1. Harleston travel to Cambridge Uni next weekend in another important game in the fight for the East Prem title.

Man of the Match – Ben Gowing and Richard Larkin


Mens 1st Team v Ipswich W 3-2

Harleston, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops travelled to Ipswich for a crucial derby game hoping to continue to apply pressure on the league leaders Wapping. Harleston started brightly and though they had taken the lead when David Skinner finished neatly at the back post, only to see the goal disallowed for a foot earlier in build-up. The game then settled into an even contest, with Harleston attempting to negate Ipswich’s direct threat. With fifteen minutes left of the first half, Harleston changed systems and boldly applied maximum pressure on Ipswich, forcing them into errors that led to chances for Dave Gilbert, Thomas Ridley and Raunaq Rai. Just when Harleston looked to be in charge, Ipswich went up the other end and scored to surprise Harleston. The pies didn’t flinch though and within 5 minutes were on level terms after a steal in midfield led to David Skinner rounding the keeper and smashing the ball at goal which via a goalie clearance landed at to Raunaq Rai who calmly slotted home. HT – 1-1
Harleston started the second half well and gained control in the midfield through Thomas Ridley and Pete Baler, along with strong defending from Andrew Bedwell and Leigh Sitch. Once again however, just when Harleston knocked loudest did Ipswich secure a short corner. Tim Whiteman using all his experience to pull Ipswich up the pitch by conceding the corner knowing that Harleston would be able to counter attack. Ipswich looked to have scored, only for the decision to have been reversed. Immensely smart thinking from James Gray then sparked a fantastic Harleston counter attack when he played a long ball forward to Dave Gilbert who carried into the circle and squeezed home. This was an evenly contested match and despite good chances with Pete Bale, Raunaq Rai and Thomas Ridley, with such a small lead, Harleston were always in a precarious position and would have conceded if it wasn’t for Chris Routs who made a stunning save low down to his right.
Ipswich did however find a way minutes later though with a powerful short corner that made it 2-2. Without a shred of panic, Harleston stuck to their game plan and after a superb high transfer. In a carbon copy to last week the dynamic full backs Andrew Bedwell and Leigh Sitch sprung a counter attack, they found Pete Bale on the right who delivered to James Gary who picked up the scraps, turned and under immense pressure slotted past the goalkeeper on his reverse to score the winning goal.
The final ten minutes was tight but with captain fantastic Thomas Ridley leading the team, Harleston had the grit and concentration to finish victorious. Next week Harleston take on Chelmsford at 3pm down at Weybread.


Mens 1st Team v Letchworth W 5-1

Harleston Magpies Men’s 1st Team sponsored by Dynamic Sport made the long journey to Letchworth last Saturday. The team where hoping that they could take their good form from the indoor over the pervious two weekends to the second half of the outdoor season. The indoor season was a very successful one, which saw the team finish a very respectful 5th place and gain more points than last year. The team also had a slim chance of promotion but sadly it was not meant to be, so you never next year might the year. I would like to say thank you to Ex-magpies Carl Sitch and Archie Winter for coming back to play for club.
Harleston welcomed two new debutants for the game vs Letchworth in Tom Dunnett and Chris Routs in goal. The game started off slowly with neither team pushing towards the other teams D. Then about 7 minutes in Jack Hobbs made a darting run down the left hand side and produced some nice link up play with Dave Gilbert to win a long corner. The long corner was defended well by Letchworth, however as they where trying to clear their lines, the ball was expertly nicked by Jack Hobbs who played a lovely weighted pass to Dave Gilbert in the D. Who then played it across the goal for it to take a deflection off the keeper and end up in the roof of the net, 1-0 Harleston. The next 5 minutes were tightly contested with end-to-end hockey, which concluded in Letchworth, be awarded a penalty corner. With the corner being miss trapped Letchworth recovered well and managed to get a shot on target, which first took a deflection of Andrew Bedwell’s stick which meant the postman Jack Hobbs was left hopeless as the ball hit his foot on the line and went into the roof of the net, 1-1. The rest of the first half was tightly contested with lots of end to end hockey, both teams where struggling to string passes together which meant that long spells of possession were both non existent. Letchworth then out of the blue won a short corner, which was very well dealt with by debutant and joint Man of the Math Chris Routs with an excellent double save! With both teams struggling to string passes it meant that there where very little chances for both teams, meaning the first half ended 1-1.
After a strong team talk at half time from player-coach Tim Whiteman about going back to basics and playing simple hockey. Harleston came out of half time the much stronger of the two teams. Magpies began to string passes together and gain momentum, this momentum allowed Harleston to create a lovely bit of interplay down the left hand side. The quick thinking Andrew Bedwell released his other dynamic full back. Leigh Sitch galloped forward running angles to create the space for Tom Dunnet. As the ball was passed to Tom Dunnet he beat one player before smashing the ball across the D to Dave Gilbert at the back post who calmly deflected the ball into the back of the goal, 2-1 Harleston. It was not long until the pressure that Harleston where putting on the Letchworth defence began to show, and it was not long till Harleston created a nearly identical chance for a goal, however this time it was Tom Ridley who delivered the ball and it was James Gray who managed to deflect the ball first time nut-megging the keeper and making the score 3-1 Harleston. Letchworth then began to settle into the second half and began to gain more possession, however Harleston stayed strong and defended well. Harleston then won a short corner and after failing to convert 2 times, it was third time lucky with the veterans at it again Andrew Bedwell delivering the ball to Leigh Sitch who smartly deflected the ball high past the keeper into the back of the net, 4-1 Harleston.
It was not long until Magpies had another chance at goal, a break from midfield by Tim Whiteman offered another chance of a goal, which was taken by Jack Hobbs, he found himself at the top of the D unmarked to powerfully smash the ball past the keeper and beating him for pace to make the score 5-1 Harleston. The final whistle blew not long after meaning Harleston had secured a very important 3 points.
Next week Harleston travel to Ipswich for the local derby, which surely will be a cracker if it is anything like the fixture against them earlier in the season.


Mens 1st Team v West Herts W 5-2
Harleston Magpies, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, welcomed West Herts to The Nest on a blistering cold Saturday. A crucial game in the race for top 4 with Magpies looking to get back to winning ways after their defeat last week and West Herts wanting to apply pressure from below. 
Despite the cold, an impressive crowd accumulated and they were in for a fantastic display of hockey. From the start, Magpies showed the intensity and creativity they lacked in the 1-0 loss over Wapping. With the West Herts players still warming up, the team took a very early 1-0 through Dave ‘UEA Dave’ Gilbert. A beautiful turn and top D strike to finish his dry spell. Magpies continued to look dangerous with connections from the Whiteman brothers on the right side. True reflections of the importance of fitness, nutrition and hard-work. Continued pressure paid off as the team won and converted a beautifully worked short corner, Tom Ridley the scorer. Individual battles soon emerged as West Herts became frustrated.  Despite some good opportunities and solid work from ever consistent rampaging full back Leigh Sitch, the team entered half-time 2-0 up. 
There was plenty of work to be done. Magpies had been 2-0 up only to draw 2-2 earlier on in the year. Nonetheless, the Magpies players continued to play smart hockey, retaining possession and working hard off the ball. Another Harleston short corner was won, this time by some smart 3D skill from Raunaq Rai. After an initial save Tom Ridley was able to put in the rebound to put Harleston 3-0 up. More foul play crept into the game from West Herts which sent Ollie Whiteman flying on the baseline. Unimpressed, the umpire was reluctant to award a short corner. As Magpies continued to press some cracks began to develop in our press. West Herts broke past two Harleston players, crashing a ball into the D which was not dealt with and fell to a West Herts attacker, 3-1. However, in a matter of minutes Simon Hipwell smashed the 4th goal in from, arguably, the top of the D. The crowd enjoyed seeing a Harleston veteran score and began chanting ‘He’s one of our own’. The tie was wrapped up with a selfless act from James Gray who set up Dave Gilbert expertly using the post from outside the D. Post-match James later said he was glad that Dave could score some goals today, it will do his confidence wonders. West Herts won and converted a short corner in the last 3 minutes. The game finished 5-2 to Harleston Magpies. 
Magpies head into the Christmas break sitting 2nd, behind Wapping and ahead of St Albans. Kevin Ridley described the performance as superb and there was rumours he even shed a tear of joy. 
Man of the Match Leigh Sitch


Mens 1st Team v Wapping 1 L 0-1

Harleston Magpies, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, travelled to London for the second successive week seeking their 10th victory in a row. A strong squad including many from the golden generation were confident that their brand of hockey, fitness and desire would be enough to knock Wapping off top spot in Prem A. 
Coach Tim Whiteman asked for a fast start and put to bed any of the rumours that a point would be a good result. It was clear that Wapping wanted to play the ball long, with their captain bypassing the harleston midfield with disguised passes and an aerial threat but the men in black and white coped well and in return looked to get on the ball with short passing and good interplay. Pete Bale looked to orchestrate the play, bringing the likes of Tom Ridley into the game in dangerous areas. With 15 minutes on the clock, Manager Kevin Ridley was left scratching his head when Wapping opened the scoring through an uncharacteristic mistake from the defensive unit.
If truth be told now was the time for a mentally strong 15 men to dig deep, put pressure on the ball and control the tempo. Strong challenges were exchanged in all areas of the pitch and words said to both umpires, finally reducing Wapping to 10 men. From this point Magpies were marginally the better side but deserved to be losing at half time after too much running into flat sticks all over the pitch and not enough meaningful play in the opposition 25.
The message was simple from senior players, believe and execute the game plan. It was important to get back to basics. Good defensive pressing nullified Wapping attacks but with the ball magpies still struggled to create meaningful chances. 3 second half corners passed without the net bulging. Time was passing and it was beginning to look unlikely that the deficit would be overturned. Harleston continued to rotate their bench and dictated the game with their patterns but to no avail. 
Wapping roared at the final whistle recognising a big scalp over promotion rivals. Even man of the match Simon Hipwell couldn’t add to his growing goal tally for the season.
For magpies this was a reality check, next week Harleston host West Herts, where they will undoubtably bounce back and head into the Christmas period on a high.


Mens 1st Team v St Albans W 3-2

Harleston Magpies Sponsored by Dynamic Club Shop flew from the nest this week to take on St Albans. The two teams joint second with only 1 draw and 1 loss. The boys in white were keen to take this winning streak further 8/8 is never enough for a team like Magpies. After one of our best warmups for the season we were ready to revenge last years disappointment. 
The game started with a high press from Magpies giving the opposition very few options. St Albans only had 2 half chances inside the first half thanks to some excellent defending from Leigh Sitch, Andrew Bedwell, Oli Whiteman, Richard Larkin and Tom Sumner. It was clear that our defence were more than up to the challenge with every 50/50 ball ending on a white stick. 20 minutes into the game the deadlock was broken. A wonderful strike from the top of the D from Dave Gilbert saw the keeper make a save which fell comfortablly for James Gray to slot the ball home. 
Vocal instructions from midfield were clear that the next 2 minutes would be vital. We were determined not to have another Bedford performance and let them score directly from push back. These 2 minutes were infact vital as Tim Whiteman, Elliot Marsh and Tom Ridley had some lovely interlink play before finding Dave Gilbert out on the right. Some composed play allowed Dave Gilbert to carry the ball down the base line and pick out an inch perfect pass to James Gray on the P spot who slotted the ball home once again from close range. 2-0 with 2 goals in 2 minutes! A card for a poor tackle saw Tim sent off late into the first half but the Harleston stood strong. 2-0 the score at half time. 
We knew that 2-0 was always going to be tough to defend and ideally would like another goal. Raunaq Rai won a short corner by drawing a bad tackle outside the circle after some scintillating stick skills. A well worked corner thumped into the back board via Thomas Ridley. 
Shortly after this Ben Gowing received an unlucky card and was off for 2 minutes. St Albans won a easy short corner as the ball found a foot inside the D. This however was saved will by John Livings in goal and with Harleston back up to 11 we began to look dangerous. 
Simon Hipwell making some excellent leads up front assisted by the never ending legs of Pete Bale were unlucky not to increase the 3-0 lead further. Another loose tackle meant that Tim Whiteman was to receive a green and have 2 minutes on the bench. This time the player down was costly as St Albans overloaded the D and found a free player down the left to score past the onrushing John Livings in goal. 3-1. Just like Magpies, St Albans pressed again and inside 2 minutes had a second goal, this time down the right. A fabulous save by John Livings saw the ball roll wide straight to an attacker who lifted the ball from a tight angle into the back of the goal. 
3-2 the score with 20 mins left to play. With Magpies back up to 11 Raunaq Rai found some space into the D but unfortunately reversed the ball high over the fence and into the car park. More and more pressure put on from St Albans saw Magpies sag deeper and deeper into their half. Pete Bale and Dave Gilbert determined to not let this happen stepped out and pressed high encouraging the midfield to do the same. With 2 minutes left on the clock nerves began to show and Ben Gowing was sent off with a yellow this time. The drama was not over with a short corner awarded to St Albans. 
This was it the full time whistle had gone. Magpies had clenched 1 point away from home but could they keep the ball out and make in 9/9 wins! The ball was injected and James Gray ran a superb line getting his body on the line. The drag flick fired hard into the right foot. The Albans players took a reverse stick shot that found the back of the net however the whistle had already gone for a re award of the short corner. The second short corner saw the ball again charged down by James Gray who again wore the ball on the right foot. This time advantage was given and St Albans shot again but this time the ball deflected high from John Livings and a short corner was blown, again the ball ended up in the net so the Albans players were frustrated. The third short saw the flicker forced to fire the ball down the middle of the goal for John Livings to save and like lightning Leigh Sitch and Elliot Marsh bravely put their bodies on the line to get the rebound clear and the ball was out of the D. Magpies heard a whistle and looked up ready to celebrate, however it was yet another short corner. On their 4th attempt the front runner James Gray ran the same line as before not allowing the flicker to choose his favoured right hand side of the keeper and this time forced him to shoot low to John Living’s left. Andrew Bedwell on the left post quickly judged the ball was going wide however the deflecter was getting ever closer. But not close enough. The ball rolled harmlessly off the back line and we had done it! 
Magpies had won 9 on the bounce and secured 2nd place on the table just 2 points below next weeks opposition Wapping.
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Mens 1st Team v Saffron Walden W 2-1

This week Harleston Magpies men’s 1s, sponsored by dynamic club shops, were looking to continue their winning streak to make it 8 from 8. The team welcomed Dave Skinner who replaced the injured Tim Whiteman.
The team warmed up well with no injuries this time. With a shortage of midfielders, the team had to adapt to the circumstances and Raunaq Rai was pushed into the midfield line.
It was clear from the off that Saffron Walden relied heavily on their centre-half, with his aerials occasionally managing to catch the Harleston men off guard as their half backs sneakily crept through our lines.
After identifying the problem, the boys in white managed to set their press well and limited the opposition’s options.
After missing a number of back post deflections, the closest coming within the first minute as David Gilbert hit the post, Harleston were bound to open the score line. 
Some impressive work from Ollie Whiteman saw the ball roll towards goal, and Dave Skinner made sure of its entry.
Dave Gilbert was determined to score as usual and effortlessly flicked the ball into the net. This goal, unfortunately was disallowed and Magpies were forced to regroup and go again.
In a brief lapse of concentration, a Saffron Walden forward was found unmarked inside our D and the score became level at 1-1.
Getting frustrated with their own poor decision making, it was clear that Harleston were desperate to score. Finally the time came as Tom Ridley manoeuvred himself up the pitch in style, and managed to find an open James gray who reversed it low past the keeper.
With the time running low, Magpies’ game scenarios kicked in and let the clock run down.
The score ended 2-1 to Magpies who look forward to a challenge next week against St Albans.


Mens 1st Team v Norwich City 1 W3-1

This week Harleston Men’s 1s sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops were looking to continue their superb run of form away at close rivals Norwich City. The team welcomed Oakley, Epsom, John Livings and Ollie Whiteman back into the side. 
Early in the warm up it was clear that the difficult pitch was going to cause some issues and this was evident with an early injury for magpies. The first 20mins saw Harleston fail to secure a few early chances and struggle to take control of the game. Tim Whiteman and Simon Hipwell pickpocketed the Norwich defence a number of times which created some golden opportunities but no finish to put them ahead. 
An early disallowed goal from Norwich City made it seem to be not magpies’ day and soon afterwards Norwich City were able to take the lead; but this proved to be a stern wake up call for the boys in white. The remainder of the first half saw Harleston grow in confidence and an impressive piece of individual skill and finish from Raunaq Rai meant it was level at half time. Overall a disappointing half with lots of individual errors and turn over balls, much unlike previous games this season.
With the second half underway Harleston began to assert their dominance on the game and some ruthless pressure in the D from James Gray and Dave Gilbert gave magpies the lead. However, despite some commanding hockey from the likes of Thomas Ridley and Pete Bale in the middle of the park, Harleston continued to lack the quality of previous performances and were unable to rack up the score line. A well taken short corner goal from Ben Gowing secured the victory but this was certainly a game with little to say afterwards other than to move on. 
Looking positively on the game it’s the sign of a promotion worthy side to get the win even when not playing at their best. Next week magpies face Saffron Walden at the nest where they look to make it eight wins in a row and continue to put pressure on Wapping at the top of the table.


Mens 1st Team v Bedford W 5-4

Harleston, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shop, welcomed Bedford to Weybread on a sunny autumnal afternoon, hoping to continue their fine five-match winning streak. Harleston started extremely brightly, putting immense pressure on the Bedford back line and winning ball in midfield. Playing at this tempo wasn’t easy and the Harleston players also had to contend with a early afternoon downpour which made for slippery conditions. The Harleston heat eventually told and Magpies went 1-0 up after Tom Ridley played in Simon Hipwell on the edge of the circle to slot calmly passed the sliding keeper. Proceeding the goal however, Harleston succumbed to a mental slip and within 10 minutes found themselves 2-1 down. Impressive 1v1 eliminating skills from Bedford combined with lackluster defending handed the opposition the upper hand. Magpies regained composure before half-time and scored an equaliser with a lifted delivery skidding over Bedford sticks to find Pete Bale at the back-post. As the players regrouped on the halfway line they were astounded to see the decision overturned as the ball was deemed dangerous high. A slippery decision indeed. Harleston continued regardless and after more fine work from Tom Ridley who found Dynamic centre back Leigh Sitch, the full

back smashed the ball into the circle and regained parity through UEA Dave Gilbert slotting in at the far post. This match however had more turns than the Pulham bends and just when the boys could consider going ahead again, Bedford countered once more and finished close-in to lead 3-2 at the break.

The second half began with the same furious intensity, with both sides determined to finish as victors. It was Harleston however who wrestled control and after a fine 15 minutes levelled through first Leigh Sitch and then Andrew Bedwell at short corners. Two of the unlikeliest of heroes dragging Harleston ahead. With fifteen minutes to go it was 4-3 Harleston! The only question was, would they let the lead slip? Thankfully not, as captain Tom Ridley (once again at the heart of proceedings) won a corner attacking from high on the right. A crucial corner, Harleston had to get it right. The injection however was streaky and it looked like a corner fail. Thankfully however Leigh Sitch collected it and Tim Whiteman slipped past first the runner and then the sliding keeper to release a shot that skidded slippery over the line. Despite sky high emotions, a calm celebration denoted the concentration required for the final 10 minutes. Bedford pushed extremely hard but Harleston dug in displaying superb work-rate from James Gray, Simon Hipwell and Jack Hobbs to relieve endless pressure. With 2 minutes to go, Bedford however found their captain sliding in at the back post to make it 5-4! Tension was at Henman-esq levels! The crowd roared, willing the boys on. Finally, finally, it came and Harleston held on for a memorable victory. It was a hard game but with victory, Halreston moved to within two points of the summit and extended their winning run to six games – the first time for 4 years.

Manager Kevin Ridley commented afterwards, “that was a battle but the desire and commitment from all the boys was tremendous. The spirit shown from the players and the crowd made it a memorable Harleston occasion.”


Mens 1st Team v Cambridge City 2 W 2-1

On a crisp but sunny morning, Harleston men sponsored by Dynamic Club Shop flew the nest and landed at Wilberforce road and the home of Cambridge City 2s. Awaiting our arrival were two new beautifully laid pitches, a beautiful sight for any hockey player. As ever, the guys arrived in good spirits and start the day by attempting to break their hoodo – no, not winning away from home, but playing cricket before a game. Is it a curse? We dared to gamble and find out. Jack top scored with some irritating small shots, while Ruanaq nearly found himself in an inadvertent suicide pact with a discus while collecting the ball from the athletics field.

With all this fun it was easy to forget we had a game to play. The Harleston men started well in the first 15 minutes, controlling proceedings in high transfer and nearly went ahead through an early effort from stand-in captain Ben Gowing which was deflected narrowly wide. The pressure eventually told however when a well-crafted move starting at the back through Andrew Bedwell found Tom Sumner, who popped the ball into Ben Gowing, who then sprayed a beautiful ball out to discuss survivor Ruanaq Rai at right half who carried to the baseline and delivered to James Gray to brilliantly finish from close range. It was a sumptuous move that had manager Kevin Ridley purring on the sidelines. Harleston continued to apply pressure and before the half-time break missed three excellent deflections opportunities. Dave Gilbert, James Gray and Pete Bale all left looking to the heavens on this occasion. Were these misses just unfortunate? Or were the cricketing gods toying with the group? Only time would tell…

At half-time, a relaxed Tim Whiteman called for more patience and tempo, reminding the group that our pressure would eventually tell. Ten minutes into the second half, with the score still at 1-0 the balance however turned against Harleston as first Pete Bale (2 minutes), then Dave Gilbert (5 minutes) and James Gray (10 minutes) all went off for minor indiscretions that seemed harsh, even to the cricketing Gods. Note here – all three players sent off were also the three who missed deflections. Harleston had to then address a situation that had them pressing with 9 against a Cambridge 11. Harleston rode this out excellently but then, with 10 men, conceded a deflection goal from close range. Leek was helpless, the defense a little hopeless. Tension increased as the cricket gods chuckled away from above the clouds. It did indeed seem like the curse would not be broken.

However…Harleston stayed calm and with 5 minutes to go Cambridge themselves received a yellow card. Now Harleston had the upper-hand. They used it excellently, playing the ball around patiently to find Ruanaq Rai (again) at half-back, who found James Gray on the baseline who calmly found a foot. Penalty corner, 1 minute to go. The gods shuffled in nervous anticipation in their clouded seats. Harleston however executed the corner poorly and a shot deflected up and over the keeper. But wait! What comes up, must come down! The ball starts to drop, the gods are out of their seat and it falls, at the back post near Gilbert (UEA Dave) who fly swats the ball from high, down into the goal. A meer mortal man, from the UEA, defies the gods, breaks the curse and wins Harleston the game! Cue wild celebrations on the pitch and cordial handshakes on the bench between coach Tim Whiteman and manger Kevin Ridley. Harleston had done it and made it 5 wins on the spin.

Stand-in captain Ben Gowing reflected afterwards, ‘that was a test today but we reacted calmly to difficult situations and kept to our tactical game-plan. Right up to the end I never doubted we would score. The belief is half the battle. Roll on next week!”


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


Mens 1 v Chelmsford 1 W 3-1

This week saw Harleston Magpies Men’s 1s sponsored by Dynamic Club Shop make the long trek down to Chelmsford Hockey club on a very sunny and hot late October afternoon. The boys were very much hoping to put behind the memory’s of last year when they gave away a two goal lead in the last 5 minutes to draw 2-2.
The day started well with everyone arriving on time meaning the team to get a nice bit of yoga in before their warm up to loosen the bodies. The warm up was of very high intensity and quality which set us in good steed for the start of the game. Then game started with Chelmsford sitting back and soaking up the pressure Harleston where applying and it wasn’t long until the pressure became too much. The ball found its way into the crowded when Leigh Sitch made a good jump back tackle before Thomas Ridley found David Gilberts (UEA Dave) stick, where he then with his back to the goalie calmly spun round the keeper on a sixpence to place the ball into the back of the goal and extended. Chelmsford then upped the tempo causing them to win a few short corners for themselves, however the drag flicks where calmly swatted away by keeper Chris Leek who was making his first team league debut for this season. Chelmsford then where once again put on the back foot and the pressure began to build, this pressure was released then Tim Whiteman skilfully won a short corner. This seasons corners have been much better than last season due to a little bit of training dedicated just to short corners and this practice payed off, a slip left deflection was well saved by there keeper. However the ball was saved right into the path of Tim Whiteman who quickly controlled the ball a slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. The half time whistle was blown shortly after and Magpies went into the half time break with the score being 2-0 and having the upper hand.
The second half turned out to be much more of an equal affair with the game become very end to end hockey. Chelmsford then against the run of the play found them selves in the bottom corner for one of their player to smash the ball into the D where a deflection meant that the ball slowly crept under the Magpies keeper to make the score 2-1. Shortly after the first card of the game was brandished to a Chelmsford player for his back chat to the umpire, sadly Magpies where not able to take advantage of this and where unable to capitalise. The game continued to be played at a very intensity with both teams having fast paced counter attacks. During this stage of high intensity Magpies received their only card of the game due to a rash stick tackle from James Gray causing him to see green and a 2 minutes suspension. Not long after magpies where restored to their full number a short corner was won. Another slip left corner was produced but this time the ball deflected off a flying Leigh Sitch for him to expertly deflect the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net. After this the game became reasonably scrappy and began to slowly peter out and the final score ended 3-1 magpies, which now places them 4th in the league standings.
Next week Harleston Magpies men’s 1st team welcome Cambridge Uni 1st team who currently sit two points ahead of them in 3rd and this very much expected to be a game of high intensity and high quality. And anyone’s support will be very much welcomed.


Mens 1st Team v Ipswich 1 W 5-2

This week saw Harleston Magpies mens first team sponsored by Dybamic Club Shop take on local rivals Ipswich in a thrilling game of hockey. Even before the whistle there were scraps as a vocal Ipswich team fought for the push back even after the toss. Magpies warm up started very flat and needed lifting! A quick team gathering and a few words put us all on the right track which saw the Harleston boys hitting full speed before the final whistle.
The game began and Magpies quickly took control of possession, however it was Ipswich that had the first sniff at goal. Some good play from them saw the ball flicked over the bar from open play. An early eye opener for Magpies that this was going to be a battle until the final whistle. Chances began to come for the men in white as a few balls fizzed into the box narrowly missing an attackers stick for a deflection. The first break through came when Ipswich made a loose challenge outside their D resulting in a penalty corner. A miss placed injection came out to the wrong castle at the top of the D which was controlled and hit low and hard into the bottom corner by James Gray to give Magpies a 1-0 lead. Not long after this Magpies doubled their lead when Dave Gilbert on the back post tapped in a bouncing ball that came across the D. 2-0 Magpies! With just seconds on the clock, we became sloppy and lost our discipline for the first time in the game. A bad tackle outside the D was upgraded into a short corner. unfortunately an early break saw the shot charged down by Magpies number 1 runner but was only resulted in a re-award. A clinical drag flick from Ipswich took the score to 2-1 before half time.
The first half was fast and ferocious and was only going to get more intense as the game went on. We knew a 2-1 score wouldn’t secure us victory so we pressed on and despite the run of play early into the second half, Magpies extended their lead through Jack Hobbs with a nice reverse into an empty goal. 3-1 Magpies. We were quickly put on the back foot with Ipswich attacking our circle and winning another short corner. This time there was no early break from Magpies but this didn’t stop the Ipswich flicker closing the gap. A flick low to the right beat John Livings and the score now 3-2. A composed last 15 minutes saw us hold the ball better and dominate play, and eventually we were rewarded from our patience. A short corner – again from a poor tackle outside the D. This time the injection was good and Oli Whiteman found Leigh Sitch on the back post to deflect it into a Ipswich body and a stroke to be awarded. Dave Gilbert stepped up and slotted the ball calmly into the bottom right of the goal. Some poor language from the Ipswich keeper saw a yellow card pulled out and Ipswich were down to 9 (with a green given for the short corner challenge prior to the flick). Some more bad language from Ipswich saw a kicking back also receive a yellow before play had even begun again from their keepers yellow. Ipswich down to 8. with 14 minutes on the clock Magpies didn’t change tactics. We still pressed high as instructed by skipper Thomas Ridley himself. Tired Ipswich legs began to show as Harleston increased their lead through hatrick hero Dave Gilbert who tapped the ball in at the back post past the substitute keeper! 5-2 was the final score despite a corner gives to Ipswich on the last play of the game.
A huge result for Harleston who make it 3 games unbeaten and are rapidly climbing up the league table!
Next week the squad travel to Chelmsford looking to avenge their disappointing result last year. 


Mens 1st Team v Letchworth 1 W 5-0

Harleston Magpies Men’s 1st XI sponsored by Dynamic club shop entertained Letchworth hoping to produce their first win of the season. The team welcomed back Leigh Sitch and Ben Gowing. With a number of stalwart supporters braving the elements, Magpies got off to a flying start immediately forcing the opposition back into their own half where they camped for most of the first half. The Magpies call of Goals will come was rewarded when Simon Hipwell stayed calm in the D winning a corner. The corner was dispatched by Ollie Whiteman only to hit a Letchworth foot on the line, the ball fell to Thomas Ridley to slot home but the whistle had already blown and a penalty stroke awarded. Without hesitation, Dave Gilbert stepped up to convert to end his goal draught. Half time 1-0.
Head coach Tim ‘the stat man’ Whiteman was not happy with conceding possession too often, especially with first time passes. This was rectified in second half, with only the veteran Pete Bale allowed to complete 1st time passes with his years of experience. With ball pace improved, combined with opposition tiring, due to our fitness, many scoring chances were produced. Further goals from James Gray x 2 one of which being a penalty flick. Another goal from Dave Gilbert (tap in). Also Pete Bale on the score sheet with a celebration of shock as he smashed it into far corner. Overall a deserved 5-0 win.
Next week a local derby we entertain Ipswich at Shotford Heath which will be a far more testing physical game, push back at 1:30pm.