Men’s East League Division 2N
Summary: This week Norwich dragons travelled to the deepest, darkest depths of Sudbury for an important away game. Although a full squad of 14 people were present a mystery illness had hit four of the players on Friday night making it a tougher game than expected. A late call off by Robbie Whiting meant a debut appearance for new keeper Matt Collinge whose performance was fantastic. This combined with the experienced back four made for a successful game. Dave Sloman used his speed at the back to progress the full length of the pitch and score the opening goal. After a pep talk by coach Rob Wagstaff at half time, the team dug deep and played to win. Veteran Rupert Snelling scored the final goal to the seal the match. Man of the match was awarded to Dave Sloman.
The true story: Dragons ground out their first away win of the season 2-0 at Sudbury on Saturday to climb to third in the table. Without co-skipper Whiting, the excellent Matt Collinge was handed his first cap in goal in what was otherwise an unchanged squad. Coach Wagstaff’s meticulous preparations were undone, though, when, in the build-up to the game, no fewer than four Dragons players went down with a mysterious bug that seems to be going the rounds at the University. Turnbull initially blamed an out-of-date Chinese, but for four players to suffer at the same time suggested more than just bad luck.
Dragons started the game lethargically, struggling to come to grips with Sudbury’s direct style and the slow Sudbury pitch. Knights, in particular, seemed to struggle with the dimensions of the pitch, consistently finding it both too narrow and too short to accommodate his rampaging runs. Charlish looked bright and threatening until he received the ball and Turnbull at least tended to manage two good touches before invariably giving the ball away with his third. Still, Dragons’ superior quality eventually started to show, Browne and Snelling a threat up front, Woodward and Flatman asking questions with their runs from midfield, and the defence settling into the game strongly. The breakthrough came following a sustained spell of pressure and patient build-up play, the outstanding Sloman released down the right to drive all the way into the D and and claim his first goal for the club, tucked in from an acute angle with the help of a brilliant dummy from Knights. Even better chances followed, Charlish somehow unable to reach the ball from a promising position at the top of the D and then Snelling, having rounded the ‘keeper, spurning the invitation of an open net from the sort of distance that will have had the selectors pondering whether it might be time to give Andrew Cross a recall.
The half-time call was for more of the same but with a little more composure in front of goal. The second half, though, was a scrappy affair, Dragons dominating the midfield but still looking vulnerable against the ball over the top. Man-of-the-match Sloman terrorised Sudbury down the right, Rich Smith put in another finely disciplined performance and Collinge was commanding in goal but the intervention of the day was from Ali Smyth, a brilliant last-ditch tackle preserving Dragons’ lead and the clean sheet. Rutledge, too, had to get the timing of his covering tackle absolutely perfect to avoid a yellow card and Dragons continued to struggle with the Sudbury pitch, Woodward lucky to avoid serious injury after falling on the treacherous surface. The game was only made safe in the closing minutes, Snelling smearing home at the second bite from a short-corner. It was no surprise that Sloman was again at the heart of things for the goal, latching onto the rebound, rounding the keeper, before unselfishly and uncomplainingly leaving the finish to Snelling. After the game Sloman explained “I thought it was important for his confidence, really; it’s not every day a player like him gets to celebrate a goal.”
Skipper Smith had warm words for Collinge on debut: “He had a strong game; Robbie [Whiting] would have his work cut out to regain his place were it not for all the other things his leadership contributes to the side.” And Knights was full of praise for his team-mates: “They really looked after me today; when you’re struggling a bit it’s important that the other guys lend you a hand. They really left an impression on me today.”
Next week Dragons will be looking to continue their push up the table at home against an improving Cambridge University side.
Men’s East League Division 3NE
Men’s East Hockey League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 3:0 Magpies 5s
Dragons 3s hoped to be able to string together back to back wins for the first time this season, against a Magpies team who have struggled in the league so far.
An even first half looked to be drawn, until Will Kirby slotted home in the dying seconds of the half. A well taken goal at a crucial moment changed the game and crucially changed the way both team talks were delivered.
A positive start to the second half was important and when Ollie King latched on to a pass from George Walker in the opening seconds of the 2nd half, the Dragons looked to have taken the game away from Magpies with another crucially timed goal.
Not to be easily defeated, the 10 man Magpies team did not give up their fight and were more than an even match for the Dragons as the game wore on. With tired legs abound, the game inevitably became more and more stretched and Adrian Kemp managed to put the game beyond Magpies with a cool finish.
All in all, well taken, crucially times goals marked the difference between two otherwise well matched sides.
Men’s East League Division 5NE
This match began very evenly with Dragons passing fluently and Dereham dangerous on the counterattack particularly via their central midfield players. However Dereham were always susceptible to the pace of Dragons youngsters, with the three Bens, Campbell, Harvey and Watson all having the beating of their opposite numbers. Rohan was also enjoying the freedom of the pitch using his silky skills to good effect. The keen tackling of Rob Jenkins and the calmness of Chris W in the middle of the pitch provided a good base for the Dragons to launch their attacks, with Mike B marshalling the defence in his normal manner.
As the first half went on Dragons began to dominate and went a goal up courtesy of Rob Jenkins latching on to a loose ball on the D and then Ben Watson who reacted quickest to a rebound off the keeper’s pads by scoring with a reverse stick lob.
Non playing captain Jon Price was fulsome in his praise for the first half performance noting the contribution of Garnett Jones on the bench, who demoralised the opposition by his mere presence pitch side.
The second half saw the game’s best move, a sensational run down the right wing by Ben Watson, followed by a cross to Ben Campell at the top of the D and a clinical finish by Rob after Ben’s through ball.
Dereham did rally late on and scored from a flick after a creative goal line clearance from Paul Keating. This put pressure on the Dragons but their defence stood firm using their many many years of collective experience.
The only cloud on the horizon was Ben Watson’s post match trip to McDonalds which had team mates worrying that he might be coming under the influence of the the notorious WK. One hopes this was a one off.
Dragons were indebted to Elliot Wang for some outstanding keeping including one athletic dive to his right to divert a cross away from a Dereham forward who waiting to pounce. He was unanimously voted man of the match.
Men’s East League Division 7NE
An abundance of talent was added to with Butler demanding pitch time to ensure things went smoothly, which they did. The first half saw some end to end action with last week’s land rover being replaced by a younger, fitter and beefier model if not a little worse for wear. Once the midfield settled down a nice move was finished off by Alex Bilalis-Stone followed by one more for a Dragon whose name escapes the reporter (might have been land rover upgrade) . Two nil up at the break led to some frank discussions around who wasn’t there last week when we only had ten and the fact we needed to concentrate on pass receive completion ratios!
As the second half progressed Felixstowe gambled more and Dragons began to find the space and the target although some were closer than others. Good forward work from Joel (who suffered from elements of the physical battle) , Rob Lee and Crossman resulted in more circle penetrations and even short corners. Final goal tally was Bilalis-Stone, Lee (made the captains poor pass look good), Saunders x2, Browne x2 and Crossman x3 (am sure one was Joel’s). Man of the match was Alex Bilalis-Stone for his mazy runs which created space and angles for the older players but he has vowed to work on keeping hold of his stick when hitting that Argentinean backhand. Oli Browne did score the goal of the game though after a swift ball in to his path at the top of the D was despatched into the roof of the net in a way reminiscent of Victor Trumper in his prime.
Felixstowe kept coming though and the defence was tested on a number of occasions with Elliot this time allowing for the variation in pace of his back few. Sam Hodbell, Hamish Packham and John Franks put in their normal pacy work load whilst Rich Mouslon was relegated to right back due to a warm up incident. Jones suffered from some stage fright prior to his own personal cheer leaders turning up which resulted in him turning on the style but placing his back to the camera. Unfortunately some of these performances will result in players being dropped to the 4ths if these results continue but otherwise well played guys. Thanks go to a very friendly Felixstowe for making the trip despite traffic issues, Freya and Sue for umpiring and the press photographer for making Joel’s illegal shorts and socks not look too bad!
Women’s East League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons travelled to Wisbech this week determined to bounce back from an average performance last week, but aware of Wisbech’s tough reputation and respectable position within the league.
The team welcomed first team debutant Laura BAILEY another promising young player from the second team and Rowie YORK SMITH back into the centre of defence following an operation on her foot.
The game started cautiously, with both teams testing the opposition defence and goal keepers without success. Dragon’s opened the scoring mid way through the first half, following some good quick short passes out of defence into midfield for Laura SHREEVE to run behind the defence and combine with Nat BEAL to beat the goalkeeper.
Unfortunately Dragons were unable to capitalise on the lead in the second half and eventually Wisbech’s determined play and appealing to the umpires lead to a goal to level the scores. The game ended with both teams creating chances for the winning goal, but unable to take the advantage.
Laura BAILEY showed great maturity on her first team debut, gaining joint Player of the Match with Maddie DENMAN, who also gave a solid performance in defence.
Women’s East League Division 2NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 2:0 Yarmouth 1s
Norfolk Women’s Premier League
Norfolk Women’s League Division 1
Norfolk Women’s League Division 2
Norfolk Women’s League Division 3
Norfolk Girls Development League
Norfolk Boys Development League
The hoof table as at 02/11/2013