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Harleston Magpies claim emphatic win to close gap on East League Premier A leaders

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 December 2018

Tom Ridley (right) was on target twice as Harleston Magpies beat West Herts 5-2 in their final match of 2018 Picture: PAT LEATE

Tom Ridley (right) was on target twice as Harleston Magpies beat West Herts 5-2 in their final match of 2018 Picture: PAT LEATE

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Harleston Magpies got back to winning ways in East League Premier A when they beat West Herts 5-2 at Weybread.

With their title rivals all having a day off the win moved Magpies to within two points of leaders Wapping, the side who had ended their long unbeaten run the previous weekend.

From the start the hosts showed the intensity and creativity they lacked in the 1-0 loss in London and they took an early lead through Dave Gilbert’s turn and top D strike.

Continued pressure paid off as the team won and converted a beautifully worked short corner, with Tom Ridley making it 2-0.

Magpies continued to play smart hockey in the second half. Another short corner was won, this time by some smart skill from Raunaq Rai, and after an initial save Ridley was able to put in the rebound.

As Magpies continued to press some cracks began to develop in their press and a ball into the D fell to a West Herts attacker who duly reduced the arrears. However, in a matter of minutes Simon Hipwell smashed in the fourth goal in from the top of the D and the game was wrapped up when Gilbert converted after James Gray’s shot had come back off the woodwork.

West Herts had the final say after converting a short corner in closing stages.

There was also a big re-arranged game in the East Women’s League, with Dereham beating Norwich Dragons 1-0 at Greenfields Road to maintain their 100 per cent record in Division 1N and restore their five point lead going into the festive break.

Dereham started slowly but good defensive work stifled out any real chances. The best chance for Dragons came from a penalty corner when a worked moved slid just wide of the post.

A stern half-time team talk and change in formation brought about a strong start to the second half however and the crucial goal came after a long ball from Marie James had found Hannah Palmer. Her shot was saved but Hayley Toleman pounced on the rebound to make it 1-0.

For the remainder of the game Dereham looked more composed while keeper Siobhan Cleeve maintained a clean sheet with some fantastic saves. The hosts faced a number of short corners late on which they defended resolutely, with the pick of clearances made by Becca Gibbs.

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