Discipline pays off for Harleston’s Magpies
St Albans 1, Harleston Magpies 4
HOCKEY: St Albans are new boys to the league and have gained an early reputation for being determined and well organised, without having any star names in their line-up.
Magpies knew that they would have to be near their best to win.
Magpies conceded a short corner in the first minute of the match but dealt with it well, after which the majority of the first half passed without significant goalmouth action.
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The hosts' deep defence kept attacking chances to a minimum but also contributed to their own offensive play becoming largely limited to aerial balls into non-threatening wide areas of the pitch.
Duncan Graves will be disappointed not to have opened the scoring when, with only the keeper to beat, the ball struck his foot, but the deadlock was soon broken by Andy Hipwell on the stroke of half-time.
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St Albans captain Cooper was robbed of possession in midfield and Hipwell smartly slotted home from the top of the D.
St Albans started brightly in the second half and their pressure told on 45 minutes when Glen Webster skilfully found space in midfield and Stephen Friend expertly deflected in the resulting cross.
Magpies could have easily found themselves behind in a frantic five minute spell during which St Albans hit the post and keeper Harms made a sharp low save to keep the scores level. After Magpies composed themselves, they were denied themselves by the woodwork via a brave defender on the line from a short corner.
On 60 minutes St Albans had a player sent off for hitting the ball away at a Magpies free-hit. This was quickly followed by two further St Albans yellow cards, one for dissent and the other for a stick-tackle on Andy Hipwell. The latter led to a penalty stroke to Magpies.
Tristan Baynes stepped up and slotted home nervelessly.
Magpies took full advantage of their opposition being reduced to eight men and when Baynes capped a man-of-the-match performance by scoring again after being fed by Toby Tibbenham.
Andy Hipwell rounded things off just before full time by firing in from close range after more tenacious work by Tibbenham.
The three-goal winning margin was flattering to Magpies in a game that for so long could have gone either way. St Albans will no doubt prove to be a stiff test for most opposition this season, however Magpies had stuck to their game plan to the letter and in the end their better discipline probably won them the points.
Magpies Men's first team has no game this weekend.
Harleston Ladies 0, Ipswich 2
Harleston came away disappointed not to pick up any points after they put in an excellent performance at home to Ipswich.
Magpies dominated the first half, putting the Ipswich defence under pressure throughout.
Magpies unfortunately could not capitalise on the possession and came away at half time with a 0-0 score line. The start of the second half saw Ipswich hit Magpies with an increased tempo and put Magpies under greater pressure for the remainder of the game.
The final score line was dictated by one controversial short corner after 54 minutes, which Ipswich put away.
Magpies were forced to reorganise twice in the last 15 minutes after two yellow cards. Ipswich sealed their win with a goal in the last few minutes after Magpies took a gamble and pushed players forward.