harleston magpies hockey club


The water-based pitch was a happy place for the club last Saturday with all four games producing home wins with a total of 17 goals for and just five against and having watched all the games I must start with the 6-0 win of the Ladies’ 1sts against Maidenhead. After draws in their previous three home games captain Lucy Belsey and her team got the start they were looking for when Abby Gooderham calmly converted a second minute penalty stroke created by Emma Lee-Smith. By half-time Magpies were 4-0 ahead following further goals by Lizzie Clymer, Emma and Hattie Sunderland, the latter with her first league goal for the club. For a team which had scored just five goals in their previous six games this was heady stuff for the players and their supporters. Hattie went on to complete her hat-trick to give her team a thoroughly deserved and vital win with two away games coming up. Charlotte Lee-Smith was rarely troubled in goal as the other members of the defence were back to their best after conceding twice in each of their previous two matches. In midfield Emma was again in top form while upfront the forwards looked dangerous throughout with Hattie having a game to remember.

This coming Saturday the team has the day off in keeping with our other ladies’ teams except for the 2nds who have the long trip to play Tunbridge Wells (1.00). But they will go buoyed by their excellent 2-1 win over Dereham after defeats by the same score line in their previous two games. So this first win of the season had been coming and boosted by the very welcome appearance of Anouska Stott they went ahead early in the game when Anouska’s miss-hit shot wrong-footed the Dereham defence. After the break Magpies continued to look the better team with forwards Kara Kilbourn, Georgie Minta, Anna Tighe and Tor Findlay prominent and it was Tor who got the vital second goal. Dereham pulled a goal back with three minutes left and when they won a penalty corner with seconds remaining Magpies faced being deprived of their deserved win so it was a relief to see Anna skilfully playing the ball out of the circle after the initial block.

The Men’s 4ths had got the day off to a good start with their 4-0 win over Pelicans 3rds. Jerry Blackmore (now a grandfather for the fifth time) was as sound as ever in defence and behind him goalkeeper Murray Graham was thankfully alert on the rare occasions he was needed! Murray and Jerry were not missing their fellow veteran Bob Skinner who for the second week was reliving his youth playing upfront. Matt Bensly came off the bench to put them two up at half time and after Bob got the third Kieran Peters powered in the fourth with a reverse stick shot which went in off the left post. The 4ths are now up to third in their league just one point behind the leaders. This Saturday they are away to Norwich Dragons 4ths (11.30).

Meanwhile on the sand the Ladies’ 5ths were up against Lowestoft Railway, who included ex-Magpie Sophie Long, and they took the lead through Sophie Meynell-Anderson only for Railway to equalise in the second half when a deflection off a defender’s stick at a penalty corner looped into the air and into the top left of the Magpies’ goal.

Last but not least on the water-based were the Men’s 3rds up against Newmarket in what turned out to be a thrilling ding-dong encounter. The game also kept my highly trained scoreboard assistant, namely Brian Cole, on his toes! Brian’s son Gavin put Magpies ahead early in the game only for the visitors to draw level. The Newmarket goalkeeper then allowed a shot cum centre from the narrowest of angles from Matt Bensly, turning out again, to roll into his net thinking it was from outside the circle. Undeterred Newmarket were quickly back on level turns before in the second half Magpies’ skipper Matt Brand hammered in a penalty corner following some good stickwork only for the visitors to equalise again. Phil Cobbald then fired in a penalty corner. Newmarket were soon level again! Could there be another goal and from which team? Yes – and fortunately it came from Magpies, for whom Greg Jagger was in sparkling form, and after good work by Jack Richards down the right Matt Bensly was on hand to grab the winner with the last hit of the game. Giles Flatt, home from Leeds University, helped to run the bench and in doing so claimed his share of the credit for this dramatic win! This Saturday the team, who are now up to fourth in their league, are away to Norwich Dragons 2nds (2.30).

Meanwhile the Ladies’ 3rds were playing Loddon on the other pitch in a game that had attracted more spectators than the Men’s 3rds but they had only two goals to enjoy or to moan about! Fortunately both came from Magpies and both came in the first half from Laura Betts who was also invited to take a short rest by one of the umpires! This was a far more comfortable win for Magpies than suggested by the score line. With this win the 3rds have moved into second place in their league while the 4ths, missing several regulars, have dropped from the top to fourth place following their 1-0 away defeat at the hands of Broadland. This defeat was only the team’s second of the season and came after a fine run of five successive wins.

In other away games there was mixed success for the club. The Ladies’ 6ths beat Watton 3rds 1-0 to record their first win of the season with their goal coming from Krystal Jenkins while in a good team performance Jess Harvey was outstanding in goal. The Men’s 5ths maintained their good form with a 4-0 win over North Norfolk 3rds with Alex Kilbourn (2), Lewis Belsey and Max Warde-Aldam finding the net and this Saturday the team are at home to Dereham 4ths (12.00). Meanwhile the Men’s 6ths drew 3-3 with Norwich City 7ths with Toby McManus, Jordan Walker and Kieran Peters scoring. This Saturday the team entertain Pelicans 4ths (3.30). While on the subject of the 6ths I am very pleased to report that Steve Halliley is making good progress after the knee operation he had last Friday.

The Men’s 2nds lost 5-2 away to City of Peterborough 2nds. They conceded two early goals and at 3-2 down, after goals by David Francis and Lawrence Baynes, they were back in with a chance of at least sharing the points only to concede twice more after continuing to take the game to their hosts. This Saturday the team are at home to IES (2.00) and they will be determined to clinch their first points of the season. Meanwhile the Men’s 1sts, without the injured Matt Riches and Stuart Leate, were losing 6-0 to Teddington. Their cause was not helped by being caught cold by two quick goals in each half. The team now has the week off to regroup after a testing first seven games of the season. Although their results so far have been disappointing the team is capable of playing some good hockey as they showed against West Herts, Richmond and in the first half against Oxted. They will next be action against Southgate on 8 November (2.00) in their first home Sunday game of the season.

– TIER 2

Best wishes to the following members who after their Tier 1 matches have been selected to progress on the England hockey ladder as follows this week.

U18 Girls (Futures Cup – Cannock)– Maria Andrews
U17 Girls (HIPAC – Lilleshall)– Abby Gooderham
U16 Girls (Futures Cup – Cannock) – Molly Redgrove and Lauren Rowe
U15 Girls (HIPAC – Leeds) – Millie Preece, Lottie Summers, Rose Winter
U17 Boys (HIPAC – Lilleshall) – Zaman Akhter and Alex Emsden
U16 Boys (Futures Cup – Cannock) – Archie Winter

Members and supporters of the club may appreciate a reminder that this event is not being held this November and I show below an extract from the press release the club issued earlier in the year.

Harleston Magpies Hockey Club, who have hosted this event for over twenty years, have very reluctantly decided that they are unable to continue to do so following increasing concerns over the risks associated with the event. The club and Harleston Lions who have organised the event (with the help of Harleston Scouts until very recently) thank the many people and businesses who have supported them over the years and who have helped to raise a considerable amount of money for their causes.

With kind regards
Mike Denham
[email protected]

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