MEN’S 2NDS A WIN AWAY FROM LEAGUE SURVIVAL
The Men’s 2nds needed the minimum of four points from their two games last weekend away to Long Sutton and home to Waltham Forest and came away with six! This means a win over Wisbech at home this coming Saturday (12.00) will ensure Premier B survival as the curtain comes down on their season spent in the bottom two places until these two successes. Even if they drop points they could still survive depending on results in three other games.
James Meek and Sam Moore modestly claimed (with some considerable justification I have to admit) a big share of the credit for these vital wins! After goals by Thomas Ridley and Robbie Kinsella had helped Magpies to a 2-1 lead over Long Sutton on Saturday Sam put them 3-1 ahead only for the home team to pull a goal back. With three minutes to go goalkeeper Donnie Archer was obliged to depart the action with a yellow and James took his place between the posts to heroically save the ensuing penalty corner. Next day at Weybread Richard Ling put the team ahead against promotion-hopefuls Waltham Forest. Magpies continued to play some sparkling hockey and Sam made it 2-0 midway through the second half only to get a green card for throwing his stick into the air in celebration! The umpire told me it would have been a yellow had it landed near anyone. James then stepped up to make the final score 3-0 to cap a fine personal weekend. Unfortunately skipper Lawrence Baynes sustained a broken rib when knocked to the ground in a tackle more akin to rugby.
While the fate of the Men’s 2nds is still in the balance some other important issues were decided in last weekend’s action-packed two days with at least one more set for resolution this weekend – the last official one of yet another mixed league season for the club. The Men’s 6ths were promoted, the Men’s 5ths relegation concerns banished, the Men’s 3rds now a win away from promotion, the Ladies’ 3rds and 4ths set to continue their battle for the league title, the Boys’ Development pipped for the league title and the Men’s O50s edged out of the EH Masters Cup by Richmond.
END OF SEASON SENIOR AWARDS EVENING including Buffet & Disco SATURDAY 19 MARCH, APOLLO CLUB, HARLESTON
Arrive 7.30pm Awards 8.00pm Taxis 12.00am. Dress: Smart
It is still not too late to obtain a ticket (£20.00) which must be purchased in advance. Please contact Jackie or Kevin Ridley urgently on 01379 854697 or 07815 199803.
The Men’s 6ths continued their extraordinary run beating Norwich City 6ths 2-1 with two goals by the in-form Lewis Belsey to claim their ninth win in their last ten outings (the other was a draw) to clinch promotion. Setting aside for now whether or not promotion is in the best interests of the team and the club this is a remarkable achievement. Are we to expect skipper Eric Davy to be calling a press conference to contritely admit that his team has been taking a magic potion prescribed by their doctor?!
As it happens Eric was absent from this vital game having promoted himself to the 5ths (a team which he and 6th team colleague Steve Halliley have sportingly run all season in the absence of a captain) to help the team avoid the increasing threat of relegation. This was duly achieved with a 4-2 away win over Watton with goals by John Pope 2, Adam Lascelles and Saul Wells.
Meanwhile back at Weybread the Men’s 3rds were recovering from a goal down to beat North Norfolk 4-2 (who included out-on-loan Magpie Peter Thornett) in a game marked by a superb display by the visitors’ goalkeeper who made save after save while the home team were missing chances in equal measure. Matt Bensly equalised for Magpies with a crisp shot before Gavin Cole skilfully controlled a thumping cross from the right for his 30th goal of yet another prolific season. Matt added the third with a spectacular deflection. The pattern of the game continued after the break but with six minutes left the visitors converted a penalty stroke. Two minutes later Stuart Field, who was outstanding in midfield for Magpies, fired in a shot which Jake Sewell touched past the inspired goalkeeper. Matt Brand and his team need to beat league leaders Norwich City 3rds away this Saturday (NB. 4.00) to clinch promotion.
As in the previous week the Ladies’ 3rds knew what they had to do when taking on Broadland with the news that the Ladies’ 4ths had gained an impressive away win in their early game with UEA 2nds. The 4ths were two goals ahead at half time through Kathryn Bullen and Laura Tibbenham scored twice after the interval in the team’s 4-1 win. The 3rds were up against a resolute Broadland team and their supporters were getting a little anxious as the game remained goalless at half time but two quick goals after the break by Sarah Legg settled the nerves both on and off the pitch and the Broadland goal came too late to be a major concern with Magpies thoroughly deserving their 2-1 win. This coming Saturday both the 3rds and 4ths are at home with once again the 4ths, who have a game in hand, first to take the field when they play Norwich City 3rds with the 3rds, who lead the 4ths by three points but with an inferior goal difference, host Dereham 3rds (12.15) in their last game. The league title could yet be decided on goal difference when the 4ths play Evergreens away on Easter Saturday (11.00).
The Boys’ Development knew they had to beat Norwich Dragons away to have a chance to retain their league title. After going a goal down they drew level through Arthur Johnson and after Dragons had regained the lead after half time Tom Caston equalised only for the impressive home side to go 4-2 up. Tom pulled a goal back with ten minutes remaining but that was the end of the scoring. The team can take heart from another good campaign which comes to an end this Saturday at home to Norwich City (3.15).
At the other end of the age scale the Men’s O50s were seeking a third successive appearance in the EH Masters Cup final when they entertained Richmond, their 2014 conquerors, on Sunday. Richmond went ahead early in the first half when they converted a penalty corner but Magpies were soon on level terms when Jon Aldridge set up Andy Caston for the equaliser. The visitors edged ahead again just before the interval. Magpies were the dominant side in the second half and deserved at least an equaliser but the ball would not fall for them in several goalmouth scrambles. After their 2-1 win Richmond now meet Ben Rhydding in the final on Sunday 1 May.
There were also other games to enjoy at Weybread with less hanging on the results. The Girls Development had two games involving 24 different players. On Saturday they beat Watton 5-0 with goals by Grace Collison 2, Holly Hanrahan, Olivia Lapage and Tabitha Borrett while on Sunday they came up against a much older and bigger Norwich Dragons side. After a difficult start they got into the game with both sides playing some really good hockey on a bright but chilly day. Dragons took the lead before Magpies got a deserved equaliser when Grace Collison touched home Ellen Pope’s hard hit into the circle. The visitors went back into the lead late in the game with an unstoppable reverse stick shot to secure a 2-1 win. Next into Saturday action were the Men’s 4ths up against already promoted Bury St Edmunds 2nds who took the lead before veteran Stuart Peters fired high into the net for a spectacular equaliser. Meantime Andy Palmer was having an excellent game in goal for Magpies who got their 2-1 winner in the second half with a goal similar to the first. Yes – the scorer was once again Stuart but I had to remind him afterwards that the game was not all about him! This Saturday the team round off their season away to Norwich City 5ths (NB. 11.30) looking to add to this fourth successive win which has seen them rise up the table to fourth place.
The Ladies’ 2nds were also at home and once again they played well this time against high flying Bedford without getting any luck in front of goal. The game was goalless at half time after which Bedford scored twice. This Saturday the team have the long trip to play Bromley & Beckenham (2.00) to round-off their frustrating season. Meanwhile the Ladies’ 5ths were winning for the fourth successive week beating Broadland 2nds with a last minute goal by Amelia Herschel-Shorland. Away from home the Ladies’ 1sts had the frustration of a first half goal disallowed against Wimbledon, who included out-on-loan Magpie Cherry Seaborn, before their hosts got the upperhand in the second half to win 1-0. This Saturday the team complete their campaign when they entertain second-placed Cambridge City (2.00) who have enjoyed a splendid first season back in the national league.
Away from home on Saturday the Ladies’ 7ths travelled to Watton to play Breckland only to discover the pitch was booked for a men’s match! After some hasty re-arrangements the game was switched to Thetford where the team went down 7-0 in a contest not accurately reflected by the final score. On Sunday the Men’s 1sts completed their programme going down 7-3 (Ben Wright, Stuart Leate, Matt Riches) away to West Herts. The score was a remarkable 6-3 at half time! While it has been a tough season for the team it has given several players a chance to play national league hockey for the first time and they have benefited from the experience.
Best of luck to all our teams this weekend. Please see the website for the full list of fixtures.
Other news in brief
Matt Brand, the club’s hardworking 3rd team captain, played for the Norfolk team which came second on Sunday in the East O40s championship played at Wilberforce Road in Cambridge. In their first game Norfolk came from a goal down to beat Essex 2-1 before in the final they lost 2-1 to Cambridgeshire after conceding two early goals. Also in the Norfolk team was Mark Braybrook who had several excellent seasons for Magpies before re-joining Dereham.
The Mixed team – and defending champions – have been drawn to play Wisbech at home in the 4th round of the EH Mixed Trophy on Sunday 10 April.
The programme for the East Minis to be hosted by the club in April is U10 Girls and U12 Boys (Saturday 16) and U10 Boys and U12 Girls (Sunday 17).
With kind regards
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