Match Report – Mixed Finals – Saturday/Sunday 4/5 June 2016



Defending champions Harleston Magpies, sponsored by Parson Estate Agents, had to be content with third place in this season’s England Hockey Mixed Trophy at the Lee Valley Sports Centre over the weekend when losing to Formby on strokes after a 0-0 draw and beating Bristol Firebrands 6-2 for the bronze medals.

Magpies never hit top form against Formby on Saturday but they would have taken the lead had they converted a penalty stroke midway through the first half which they shaded on possession. There were few goal scoring chances for either side in the second half although Magpies did find the net as the final hooter was sounding. Magpies, with captain Leigh Sitch in outstanding form at the back, looked the slightly better team and should have secured victory before the uncertainty of the penalty shootout.

Goalkeeper John Livings then made two good saves for Magpies in the exciting and fluctuating shootout and after five strokes apiece the score was 3-3. Formby then went first in sudden death and scored before Magpies missed leaving the team pondering what could and should have been in a game they looked the slightly better team albeit one which failed to create its usual number of chances.

Observation – all ten penalty stroke takers were men. Question – even if the lady players were happy with this why in a mixed game do the rules not require a 3/2 split either way? Not the world’s most burning issue one has to admit – but surely a question worth asking?

Against Bristol Firebrands on Sunday Magpies were near their best and they were soon into their stride forcing early penalty corners and following the fourth, won by Leigh Sitch in a rare sortie upfield, Maria Andrews put them ahead on five minutes. Lucy Whiting made it 2-0 on fourteen minutes and after Firebrands, who possessed some hard running forwards, pulled a goal back approaching half time in their first attack Lucy was on hand to make it 3-1 to Magpies at half time leaving their enthusiastic band of sun-kissed supporters in good heart.

Eleven minutes from time they were even happier when Lucy completed a splendid hat-trick but they were wondering if a male member of the team, in which Dickon Taylor was playing well at the back, was going to find the net. The opportunity duly arrived three minutes from time with Firebrands now reduced to ten players following a yellow and playing with a helmeted kicking back. ‘Veteran’ Robbie Kinsella, as he was described over the public address system, saw his opportunity and unerringly pushed the ball into the unguarded net. Cometh the hour cometh the man! 5-2 then came 6-2 when Lauren Barber, who was again playing extremely well in support of the attack, completed the scoring.

An entertaining final was won by Banbury who, after beating Firebrands 3-1 in the other semi-final, were worthy winners following a 4-3 win over Formby who scored with the last hit of the game to make the contest seem closer than it was.

Fact 1. Magpies played seven games in this year’s competition culminating with their bronze medals (a very worthy achievement with special thanks to Leigh Sitch and Katrina Sitch for organising the team once again) during which they scored twenty nine goals with just four against.

Fact 2. Leigh Sitch and Richard Larkin played for a very high proportion of each game and while they were on the pitch they pointed out their opponents failed to score. But as they were reminded “It is not all about them!!”

Fact 3. With only four goals against in total the other Magpies’ players must also have played their part!