The Ladies’ 1sts deserve top billing this week for their splendid 3-0 home win last Saturday over Chelmsford. Emma Lee-Smith was again in sparkling form in a really good squad performance with her running, passing and shooting. She put her team ahead in the ninth minute with a firm shot from the right of the circle and a few minutes before half time she ran at the Chelmsford team again before slipping the ball to Lizzie Clymer on her left who guided the ball home for her fifth goal of the season. Despite these setbacks the visitors had plenty of the ball and they gave the home defence a lot to think about. In fact they forced more penalty corners than the home team. This pattern continued even after Emma had made the game relatively safe for Magpies when following another run at the Chelmsford defence she fired the ball just inside the left post early in the second half. But the strong Magpies’ defence, well marshalled as usual by Debbie Francis, was not to be beaten and for the second successive week goalkeeper Tosh Lee-Smith did not touch the ball in play. For Magpies Molly Redgrove (in defence) and Abby Gooderham (in attack) had good games to mark their selections for, respectively, the England U16 and U18 teams. Congratulations and best wishes to them and also to fellow club member Rose Winter on her selection for the England U16s. This coming Saturday the team is away to St Albans (1.00) with whom they drew 0-0 at Weybread back at the beginning of October.

On Sunday at Weybread it was like days of old with a large and enthusiastic crowd watching the Men’s 1sts as they played Oxted looking to banish the memory of the second half drubbing they received in the away game and it started well with Ben Wright putting Magpies ahead midway through the first half. Shortly before half time Oxted drew level when the formidable Robbert Schenk powered in an unstoppable penalty corner. Magpies were still in the game at this stage but they were undone by three quick goals early in the second half before Ben reduced the deficit after good work by Simon Hipwell. Another goal now and Magpies would have had a chance of a point but they did not get the penalty corner they were appealing for in a good ten minute spell. Oxted then made it 5-2 with the umpires ignoring touchline appeals for the game to be abandoned with snow falling! This Sunday the team are away to Bromley & Beckenham (1.00) when a win will be essential for our diminishing survival hopes.

Back to Saturday where without doubt the home performance of the day was that achieved by the Ladies’ 1sts but the most enjoyable game was that between the Men’s 3rds and Norwich Dragons 2nds late in the afternoon. Jon Aldridge put Magpies ahead in the opening minute after a shot from skipper Matt Brand had hit a post and Matt made it 2-0 at half time with a shot from a penalty corner which eluded the Dragons’ defence with the ball seemingly reluctant to cross the line. Magpies were in command of the game from the start, with forward Jake Sewell in impressive form, but Dragons forced goalkeeper Jordan Wiseman to make a good save soon after the break pushing the ball over the bar. Matt then burst down the right (his speed is deceptive and that is a compliment!) and he crossed for Phil Cobbald, who had controlled the game from midfield, to fire home. Shortly afterwards defender Iain Cumming took a swing at the ball and had he connected it would have been on its way to the houses up the road! Instead there was the loud sound of clashing sticks. A stroke was awarded and Dragons knew it was not to be their day when the shot went wide. It was good to see ex-Magpies Graeme Smith (the scorer of one of the most spectacular goals for the club on the water-based) and Glenn Masterson playing for Dragons. This win keeps Magpies in the hunt for one of the two promotion places but their five remaining games will be a severe test starting this Saturday with their re-arranged home game with Lowestoft Railway (1.45).

There were yet more Dragons invading Weybread last Saturday and this time in the shape of their Men’s 4ths and starting at a fittingly fiery pace they were soon two up against the Magpies’ 4ths and a rout seemed on the cards. But it was not to be as Magpies hit back with Alex Kilbourn reducing the arrears after a strong run by Greg Jagger. Dragons then scored again and that was the end of the scoring. Magpies gave the ball away too often for comfort and this 3-1 defeat means they are now in even greater danger of relegation with their remaining five games presenting them with very considerable challenges. On Saturday they entertain already-promoted IES 3rds (10.15).

RACE NIGHT (for ages 16 and over) Saturday 27 February – Clubhouse – 7.30pm Tickets £5 on the door. Please come!

The East Premier League survival hopes of the Ladies’ 2nds were dealt another severe blow at home when they lost 3-2 to Tunbridge Wells and especially so as they have still to play the top three teams in the league in their last five games starting at home this Saturday with leaders West Herts (2.00). The visitors went ahead early in the game before Angie Wheelhouse, making a very welcome home comeback after playing away the previous week, brought Magpies level with a typically crisp finish. Magpies then fell behind again before early in the second half Lauren Mickleburgh got an encouraging equaliser before a mix-up in the home defence presented Tunbridge Wells with the easiest of chances which they took to boost their own survival hopes. In the other home game the Ladies’ 6ths did well to keep Norwich Dragons 5ths at bay in the second half after conceding four goals before the break.

Away from home there were wins for the Ladies’ 3rds and Men’s 5th and 6ths, a draw for the Men’s 2nds and defeat for the Ladies’ 5ths and 7ths. The Ladies’ 3rds beat Norwich Dragons 3rds 1-0 in a vital clash to move back to the top of the table ahead of the Ladies’ 4ths who are now one point behind with a game in hand with Dragons a further three points back. The 3rds, who look to have the easier run-in to the end of the season, scored in the first half through Katie Kinsella and they fought hard to retain their deserved lead with Mia King, the team’s youngest player, voted MOTM for her tireless running. Dragons hit the bar in the closing seconds! Meanwhile the Men’s 5ths beat Dereham 4ths 3-1 and while the goals were scored by Jack Newbery (2) and Peter Dolton, with a penalty stroke conversion, the main news from the game revolves around the move up from the Development team of Ben Emms, Michael Ahrens, Hayden Macaulay, Louis Calvert and Oli Hall. Youth Development Officer James Smith said that all performed really well on their debuts combining well with each other and the older members of the team to look stable in defence and dangerous moving forward.

The Men’s 6ths were playing Pelicans 4ths and they dominated the first fifteen minutes before Lewis Belsey opened the scoring. Pelicans then caught Magpies twice on the break with David Cadman scoring in between these setbacks. In the second half Ross Carter and Chris Flatt continued to do good work in defence and Magpies went back in the lead midway through the half with Lewis scoring again and with three minutes to go the Pelicans keeper saved a shot from Lewis and Joe Walker followed up to make the final score 4-2. The team is now up into second place behind already-promoted BSE 5ths following their remarkable run of nineteen points from their last seven games but with some tricky matches ahead we mustn’t get too worried about promotion just yet! The Men’s 2nds needed a win from their game with IES but had to be content with a 1-1 draw. Ali Pollard put Magpies ahead only for IES to draw level with a scrappy goal. Magpies are still bottom of the league but they have games in hand and some winnable ones ahead although Spalding will be tough opponents away this Saturday (2.00).

The Ladies’ 5ths suffered a rare defeat at the hands of Watton 2nds going down 6-3. Magpies started the game well but it was Watton who took the lead. Magpies then equalised when Rachael Clifford ‘smashed’ the ball into the net as is now permitted before Georgie Cantrell maintained her excellent goal scoring run by putting Magpies ahead. Watton equalised before half time but after good work by Sophie and Imi Meynell-Anderson Rachael scored her second to put Magpies back in front. Thereafter chances came at both ends with Watton taking advantage of theirs to clinch victory. Magpies are away to Norwich Dragons 4ths this Saturday (1.00). The Ladies’ 7ths went down 2-0 against UEA 4ths despite having the majority of the play. Their cause was not helped by the UEA goalkeeper being in good form while for Magpies their MOTM was Lili Mohiddin.

On Sunday the Men’s O50s are away to Sevenoaks (NB. 1.00pm) in the quarter-finals of the EH Masters Cup and they will need to play better than they did in the last round against Bury St Edmunds although they did have the excuse of ‘big money signing’ Andy Law and Bob Skinner both missing through injury. Meanwhile the Mixed team are away to Saffron Walden (1.30) in the second round of the EH Cup. Good luck to all our teams this coming weekend. Please see the website for all the fixtures.

Arrive 7.30pm Awards 8.00pm Taxis 12.00am. Dress: Smart
Tickets £20.00 available from clubhouse bar or from Jackie and Kevin Ridley 01379 854697 or 07815 199803. Please come to help make this evening both enjoyable and successful.

FINALLY– thank you if you have already sold your raffle tickets. If not this is a gentle reminder!

With kind regards
Mike Denham
[email protected]
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