Magpies have good reason to be proud
Harleston Ladies 2, Chelmsford 2
HOCKEY: Harleston Magpies Ladies entertained Chelmsford for their last league game of the season – and it ended honours even.
The point secured Magpies their fifth-place slot in the league and they can be proud of their excellent run since Christmas, picking up seven wins, a draw and just one loss.
Magpies were determined to finish the season on a high and make amends for their 5-0 loss against Chelmsford at the start of the season.
As expected, the match was played at a good tempo and involved quick attaching breaks from both sides.
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Magpies dominated the start of the game and had several chances early on to take the lead, including from Charlotte Harrison and Debbie Francis who narrowly missed putting Magpies ahead. Chelmsford went 1-0 against the run of play from a penalty corner deflection after 19 minutes.
However, Magpies maintained their composure and tirelessly pressed the opposition to force defensive errors. Emma Lee-Smith powerfully struck a short-corner strike for Lucy Miller to clean up from the defender on the line to level the score line.
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Soon after, Lee-Smith picked up the ball from deep in the Magpies half and beat player after player before she slipped the ball to Verity Blyth on the back line, who calmly slotted the ball home to put Magpies 2-1 up.
Chelmsford hit Magpies hard after half-time and broke through into the circle at pace on several occasions. Their renewed determination was rewarded with a penalty stroke conversion after 39 minutes to level the score to 2-2.
The remainder of the game contained dangerous counter attacks from both sides, either side looking like scoring on several occasions.
Lee-Smith continued to pose a constant threat, whilst Chelmsford were managing to get balls through the press to their forwards too easily which forced the Magpies defence to pull out all the stops.
Southgate 5, Harleston Men 1
Harleston Magpies men's first team visited Southgate, who have already won of the league title, for their final match of the season.
The game started brightly, with both teams looking to attack. Southgate shaded the opening exchanges, stretching the Harleston defence.
Harleston started to cause the Southgate defence problems of their own. The game was now end to end, with both sides causing the other problems and it was only a matter of time before one team scored.
Harleston took the lead when Andrew Hipwell skipped past two defenders before lashing the ball in.
After winning a short corner, a well-worked Southgate routine saw Robert Schilling divert the ball in to level. Harleston won a couple of short corners, but the keeper was excellent.
In the second half Southgate managed to score early on through Adam Wilson then he added another after a disputed short corner. Johannes Kloess added a superb short-corner strike for 4-1.
Harleston continued battling, but ran out of steam, as Southgate dominated. Southgate's final goal came as a result of a defensive mix-up, enabling Kloess to net.
Harleston have had a fantastic season, finishing fifth in this very competitive league of 10 teams, two places better than they achieved last term – great improvement.
Many thanks must go to Robert Stimpson (manager), Bill Williams (coach) and Phil Cobbald (coach) for all their hard work over the season.