NDHC League Match Reports: 03/12/2016

Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons 2s 4-2 Cambridge City 2

The final game before the Christmas break saw Dragons welcome ‘run-away’ league leaders Cambridge City to the Den. The visitors arrived 9 points clear at the top of the league, having been unbeaten all season and having beaten the hosts 3-1 in the corresponding fixture at the start of the season. Dragons were largely unchanged as a squad for this lunchtime fixture, just welcoming back Rowie York-Smith and Holly Reding to the team.

After a quiet warm-up, Dragons Captain Karen O’Neill Simpson, asked for the team to show some of the commitment and desire they had shown in the final 5 minutes of their win against Bury St Edmunds, the previous week. The team weren’t about to disappoint and despite some early pressure from Cambridge City, a quick break from Laura Ward, saw her attack at pace down the right, along the baseline, to then place a perfect pass across the goal. Helen Busfield had ghosted up from the left side of midfield and found the perfect position on the back post, to slam the ball home within the first 2 minutes – a great start for the ‘lowly’ Dragons.

Whilst City were rocked, they continued to look to pass the ball around, however Dragons weren’t going to make this easy, with the defensive team of Ally Windsor-Waite, Donna Vaughan, Sarah Borrett, Karen O’Neill Simpson and Keeper Emma Cleland looking strong and secure and not about to give up this lead any time soon. Dragons always looked dangerous on the break, and one such break saw Hannah Hardy find Issy Wolfe, who attacked at pace on the right, the youngster beat her player with pace and skill and found the perfect pass to the ever impressive Hannah Phillips at the top of the D. Without hesitation, Phillips smashed the ball home, with her trademark slap-hit firmly into the corner, beating both defender and GK, for a 2-0 lead within the first 10 minutes.

Knowing the quality of the league leaders, Dragons had to work extremely hard and be disciplined with their press, not diving in, but holding up their opposition and frustrating them into mistakes. A couple of short corners were earned by both teams – one bravely taken on the arm by the industrious Shelly Seaman who will block anything for the Dragons cause!! The midfield were working incredibly hard as a team to beak down play and frustrate the league leaders. Gail Thomas, Holly Reding and Helen Busfield in the wider positions were winning most of the 50 / 50 balls and feeding the forwards with strong early balls. Dragons deserved their lead going into the break, having been clinical in the D, and this became even better just before halftime, when the home team won a short corner. Donna Vaughan’s strike was well saved by the keeper, however the ball fell to Gail Thomas whose excellent goal bound strike was half stopped, only for Laura Ward and then Issy Wolfe to pounce, with Wolfe forcing the ball over the line.

Half time talk was for more of the same and to maintain the high standards the team had set in the first half, knowing the League leaders would come at them all guns blazing – the game certainly wasn’t won yet! It was however, Dragons who came out firing, none the least their Player of the Match, Laura Ward, who had tormented the defence all half and forced the City back 3 into a mistake, intercepting the ball on the 25 line – with plenty still to do, the classy Ward drew the Keeper, then rounded her with her silky skills, before calmly slotting home from a narrow angle again with less than 2 minutes of the half gone. No more than she deserved in a game where she had given her all. 4 – 0 up with 30 minutes left to play.

Dragons knew Cambridge City would have their spell in the game and so needed to maintain their high levels of concentration and work-rate. This they did despite a couple of goals in quick succession from the league leaders – so with 20 minutes to go, the score was 4-2 and the next goal was going to be crucial. Dragons wobbled just a little, but the call for calm heads came from the sideline, and a slight tactical readjustment lead to key players being nullified from the game and the visitors frustrations grew. The clock ran down and despite chances at both ends, there was no further score in the game, securing the somewhat unlikely 3pts for Dragons.

The result was important, but the performance even more so – given how the team had stuck together despite the tough start to the season. To a player, the team have become more and more determined to prove they are better than their results had shown, and through sheer hard work at training, strong discipline and togetherness they have got the result and the performance they deserve. Thanks go to those who supported from the sideline and to the Ladies 1’s for popping across from their indoor tournament to give us a cheer!

Onwards and upwards from here – the hard work over the break will continue and the team will continue to believe and build on this performance.

Muted apologies from the ‘reporter’ for the long match report……..but felt the team deserved this one!!!


Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 3s 6-0 Norwich City 4

On a bright and sunny December morning Dragons welcomed Emily Roper to the team, making her 3rd team debut but showed the opposition very little festive spirit as they took on a City. Once they’d settled they switched the ball, transferring with fluidity, their movement with and off the ball complimented the subtle skills of ‘face of the team’ Debs Smith. The opening goal came from a Caroline Wolfe strike from the top of the circle, finished off adeptly by a grounded Lauren Lawrie. Dragons gave City little respite when they followed up from a corner variation which saw Katie McKenna cross the ball for Lawrie to score her second. Dragons followed this up with an extended period of play where they retained possession recycling the ball through the ranks. Any chance City had was quickly closed down by the industrious Sian Lawrie, Sam Franklin and Natasha Falzon. Dragons took the score to three when McKenna again switched the ball to an incoming Falzon who coolly converted her first goal for Dragons. Getting the taste for scoring Falzon then followed up with their second and Dragons fourth, following up a shot and slipping it past the keeper.

Half time: Dragons 4 : City 0

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with player of the match Carmel Windsor-Waite and Hazel Sumner gliding down the right flank and Angela Murgatroyd intercepting loose ball on the left. Claire Canning displaying her cool head and composure by swapping passes in the middle with Smith and the Lawrie twins, which soon began to pay dividends with Dragons fifth goal coming from a Smith strike at a short poached by Canning. Trish Hagon had another commanding game bridging the defence and attack, combining with Windsor-Waite to launch Franklin down the wing. The blend of youth and experience of Wolfe and Mckenna is becoming quite formidable and the expansive way that Dragons played produced their sixth and final goal which saw Lauren Lawrie cooly and unselfishly slip her rebounded shot to Sam Franklin to dispatch into the back of the net. Very little breached the Dragons defence but Roper made a composed clearance to set up another Dragons foray into the City half.

This was a very accomplished performance by Dragons, every player made a huge contribution to the fast flowing hockey that at times was breathtaking. The challenge is to maintain this style of play under more pressure – well done everyone!

Full Time: Dragons 6 : City 0

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 4s 0-3 Norwich City 2

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 5s 2-3 Lowestoft Railway 1

After a disappointing game the previous week, the Dragons 5’s were keen for an improved performance.  We were taking on, top of the table Lowestoft Railway 1’s and felt like we were actually on the beach with the sandy pitch.  We welcomed Lizzie McDonnell who came to give us support up front for a bit of post hanging!!  The weather was mild and Lou Davis put us through a vigorous left leg in left leg out warm up, we were ready.  Lowestoft had first push back and tried to play the ball through the middle but it was swiftly picked up by Vicky Earley and passed through to a calling Lynne Price, out wide to Karenza Moffatt who even though had only 3 hours sleep made fast work of the side line.  The ball was fed to Lizzie who was lined up ready to bring the ball into the D, Lowestoft defenders were quick to react and cleared the ball.  It didn’t get far, Lynne picked it up and fed it back in, Lisa Harwood and Racheal Matthews were moving around dangerously in the D.  Play continued like this for the first 15 minutes and Lowestoft found it difficult to play their own game.  The Dragons then seemed to lose a bit of momentum and energy, Lowestoft tried to take advantage but didn’t make much progress through our solid defence of Jemima Williams, Lou and Mel Widdows.  They were strong and quick to close down the opposition.  On the return Catherine Matthews brought the ball up the left and passed through to Racheal who caught a opposition foot in the D.  A short corner and the chance needed, Lynne passed the ball to Lisa, slipped left to Racheal a slap in and picked up by the keeper, flicked forward and Lynne’s lightening skills picked up the rebound and slotted it behind the keeper and over the defenders stick. Whoop.  Lowestoft were still strong and tried to clear the ball though the middle of the pitch, they didn’t count on Vicky’s enthusiastic tackles, and sweet smiles at the umpires!  Luisa Valentini had been watching play from the rear and was only called into action a few times, Lowestoft managed to force a short corner just before half time, a scrap in the D and they scored. 1 all.

At half time, the 5’s were buoyed and felt like the first half had gone well, we needed more and louder calling for the ball.  Off we set, Megan Farrant tried to take her chances and drive the ball through the Lowestoft players toward goal, she was not getting away that easy!  Again the 5’s were energetic in midfield, Lowestoft found it difficult to keep up with Karenza and the ball was worked well between players, Lou and Mel pushing up to support from the rear.  This week the forwards were finding space and opposition feet in the D.  The next goal was a Dragons one worked around the D from Lizzie, into goal by Lynne rebound picked up by Lisa slotted left of the keeper and nudged in by Mel.  Team effort! Lowestoft again pushed forward and their chances on goal only came from shorts, next goal was a short corner and unluckily pinged off a Dragons stick into goal. 2-2.  Both teams were keen for a win and effort was continued, Dragons still pressed the opposition keeper. Lowestoft managed to force another short corner, and the ball was slightly lifted and bounced into the back of goal! We had about 5 minutes left and the Dragons cracked on to try and score again.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time! Final score 3-2 to Lowestoft a really excellent effort by all.  POM Karenza

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 6s 0-5 Lowestoft Railway 2

Ladies 6s arrived at the den to play a Lowestoft 2s team on a winning streak. Looking at the young legs in their side they knew they would have a challenge controlling their forwards.

The first half started shakily. With Dragons being held in their own half for much of the play under continuing pressure. With that said, Keeper Alessandra Pellegrini made some fantastic saves and the defence team of Katie Franks, Kate Atkins, Hannah Woods and Katy Saide stood strong. Making some great clearances. However, something had to give and Dragons conceded two goals late in the second half.

After a strong team talk and a renewed sense of togetherness, Dragons re-grouped for the second half. They were caught napping early on and conceding 2 goals in quick succession. But, they then found their feet. Some fantastic interceptions and balls forward from POM Fiona Fletcher (Fletch) released Rosie Skipp and Hannah Edwards on the wings.

Dragons continued to press with Nicola Robinson and Lilly Sore putting in some testing crosses. Our Duracell bunny Sue Brumby, Beth Coates & Beth Elgood pressed the Lowestoft defence from the top winning several short corners that saw Kelly Mills put in some clean strikes however we just couldn’t convert.

All in all, a frustrating games for the 6s who are working really well as a team and have played some fantastic hockey to date.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 7s 8-0 Carrow 2

Dragons 7s faced this match against Carrow 2 on a positive note, keen to make their mark.

Dragons saw three new players making their debut for the 7s, Jemima Dorman, Anita Mancini and Louise Bond. Dragons dominated from the start, with Jemima scoring within the first 2 minutes. Dragons kept up the pressure, with Amy Forse soon scoring goal number 2. Jemima was hot on her heels, scoring her 2nd, making the scoreline 3:0. Carrow put up a good fight, with some strong hits through the centre of the field. Goalkeeper Luisa Valentini didn’t have a lot to do, but when Carrow did try to score, Luisa made some strong defensive kicks away from goal. The defence of Hattie Gale, Esme McKinnon-Evans and Emma North made several stops to Carrows attacks, getting the ball up to the rotating midfield of Louise, Claire Fairhurst, Helen Walker, Anita and Maisie Dearmer. The forwards of birthday girl Mia McGhee, Katrina Speirs, Jemima and Amy made numerous attacks on goal, with Amy managing to score her 2nd. Dragons finished the first half with a score of 4:0.

Captain Claire didn’t have a lot to say at half time except to keep up the good work! Dragons went out to the second half exactly as they’d started. Mia found the goal and then so did Katrina, although it was a toss up between her and Mia who had touched the ball last. Katrina scored again but then Mia put the cherry on top of her birthday by scoring her 2nd. Dragons were enormously pleased with the final score, 8:0! A great birthday present for Mia, and a deserved result for the 7s!

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 8s 0-5 UEA 4

UEA are rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with in this division, and the 8s are tipping them for a promotion spot if they can maintain  consistency after the break. They  kept up a steady flow of goals, but with one at the end of each half being particularly unwelcome when the 8s felt as though they were well into overtime! The 8s had 19 players available this week, so it meant that their talent was once again in demand elsewhere, and those players made their presence felt in an excellent win. With Captain Katy Cole and Jo Baker back in tandem this week, the 8s got down to the business of re-settling their players into another formation, and working on the necessary rotations. Despite what looks like a heavy defeat, as usual the 8s took plenty from the game.

Tactically, the 8s decided to keep their defence intact, and this was a wise strategy. Jo Baker is a very tough central defender to beat, even if she has been unwell for half the week. Anna Chapman grows in confidence every week. We say that each week, and it’s true – just as it is to say that Johanne Steward gets stronger. Emily Roper was back in goal and she had an excellent game. Her keeping skills are developing nicely, particularly the power and accuracy of her clearance kicks.

Also a plus point was that the Availability Fairy sent us Amelia Keitley-Webb and Brooke Simmons. Amelia justifiably received the POM for a high-energy performance in all the positions she played in. She also set a fine example with her dancing footwork as she sped past the opposition, using her stick skills and never getting the ball trapped on her feet. Which is a skill most of the 8s have to work on, giving away several unnecessary free kicks. Brooke is a noticeably more mature and confident player this season, ramming in some super intercepts and getting attack moves going. Our ‘Get Back Intos’ continue to make their mark. Louise Brooksy Brooks and Gemma Ballard  tackled like demons in the midfield, and also showed their continuing improvements in fitness.

The 8s had practised pen corners this week, and they got plenty. Katy  said she could see an improvement in the pens, and more practice in game situations should start to bring results.

The 8s played their nice passing game, with Katy, Gemma, Louise and Lois Metcalf all going on some good runs, but finding the UEA defence was equal to their final passes. Mike Hardy gave us some words of wisdom at half time, and interestingly he picked up on the points that we talk about each week – particularly not getting first to the ball  and failing to get our tackles in. This improved in the second half. There was also something of a ‘disconnect’ between the forwards and the mids, with the forwards tending to perhaps hang too high when the mids needed them to link when setting up attacks.

The rest of the hard-working squad was made up of Liberty Townsend, Sophie Drew, Alice Bishop and Bridget Le Good, who all had their moments. But if the 8s look at this performance honestly, they will recognise their was more they coulda/shoulda/woulda done better to close the gap with the visitors.  Looking forward to a nice friendly pre-Christmas thrash next week – don’t forget to respond to the email invite if you have not already done so, because we won’t get a game if there are insufficient expressions of interest.

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 1-1 Cambridge South 1

League leaders Norwich Dragons 1s hosted newly promoted Cambs South in the first return fixture of the season and the last before the winter break.

Dragons started much the brighter of the 2 teams and despite the absence of talisman and captain George Walker. Forward momentum and decent spells of possession resulted in a short corner, which was converted well by expert Rupert Snelling for his 12th goal of the season.

The Dragons continued to play progressive hockey, but some strong defence and even stronger resolution to stay in the game meant Cambridge saw out the 1st half with some chances of their own and the score remained 1-0 to the hosts.

Unable to keep possession of the ball for extended periods at the start of the second half allowed the visitors back into the game. In an instance in which the hosts might have hoped to close out the game, an energetic, well organised Cambridge team controlled much of possession themselves in the second half and sustained pressure eventually resulted in an equaliser despite some great goalkeeping from Man of the Match Peter The Keeper Dickerson.

1-1 was in the end a fair result, with plenty of food for thought for the Dragons at Yuletide.

Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 2-3 Newmarket 1

Eleven 2nd XI Dragons travelled away to second placed Newmarket, looking to build on a very positive performance against other high flyers Bury last week. The starting line-up included 7 masters’ players and a handful of youth. A notable mention to Jose and George who are really stamping their authority in this team with consistently impressive performances each week.

Dragons took a very early lead through Lewis Wilkins. His reverse stick effort on entering the D caused some confusion. As Lewis and George wheeled away in celebration, there were some Newmarket players (and Jose) who think it went in the goal through the side netting. After a quick third umpire referral, the TV replays showed the ball clearly screaming into the inside of the net.

Dragons’ defence soaked up immense pressure and numerous short corners from Newmarket, as the home side became frustrated by the away teams resolute defending. Comfortable to play on the break, Dragons scored their second after a scintillating break away from young guns Jose and George, leading the ball to Jase who was able to square the ball to Robert Wagstaff who squeezed the ball in at a tight angle.

Newmarket’s pressure began to tell as the eleven away legs started to tire. A drag flick from Newmarket brought them back into the game. Their second goal caused confusion as the ball appeared to be lifted into the D, but with the whistle not going, Dragons didn’t react quick enough and found themselves conceding another to level to score to 2-2. With two minutes left on the clock, a short corner was awarded by the umpire on the half way line overturning his colleague’s decision which Newmarket nailed into the top corner.

The 2nd XI remain fourth in the table, but have shown in the last two weeks they are able to match the teams above them in the league comfortably, but fell just short on each occasion. A favourable run of fixtures to come up should see Dragons secure that elusive last Champions League spot.

Men’s East Hockey League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 7-1 Newmarket 2

Men’s East League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 1-3 Felixstowe 2

The 4’s travelled to 3NE division leaders Felixstowe their longest journey of the season. The team got off to a slow start coming under some early pressure in the first 10 minutes. However, we soaked it up well and then started to get into the game more as the half went on. Attacks down both wings through.

Rob Chaney-Baxter on the right and Connor Adams on the left saw both possession and time in the D but unfortunately with no reward. A momentary lapse in concentration by Dragons towards the end of the half meant a long clearance from Felixstowe found their CF who after a tussle with Will Ives managed to get a shot off catching Chris Millar off guard and converting to end the half 1-0.

Felixstowe came out strong in the second but Dragons had possession and chances and again utilised the width to get into the D. Unfortunately pressing forward meant that Felixstowe exploited the space left in behind the midfield getting two goals in 5 minutes to go 3-1 up. Dragons continued to fight and had a number of chances go begging. Eventually a well worked short corner was converted by Rich Phillis to end the game 3-1.

Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 7-3 Ipswich 4

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 3-2 Felixstowe 4

The 6s were at home again for our last game before the Christmas break. This was the return leg of our first match of the season against Felixstowe 4s which we had won 2-0, so even after our recent run of losses, we were feeling pretty confident of a result going in to the game. Felixstowe travelled with a similar mixture of youth and experience to the Dragons team, so the stage was set for a competitive encounter. As a result of other matches going on over the weekend, player availability was tight, so there was also the added pressure of only starting with one substitute.

The first 10 minutes was played at a high pace, both teams wanting to get an early goal to steady their respective team’s nerves. It was Felixstowe who scored first against the run of play, from a clean strike in open play from one of their experienced midfielders. That goals wasn’t enough to put Dragons 6s off their stride, as with a solid defensive line, the midfield was able to push forward and continue to pressurise the Felixstowe goal. This offensive work resulted in a number of short corners, the third of which gave John Butler the opportunity to inject a perfectly weighted ball to Mike Banham who confidently stroked the ball into the Felixstowe goal. Following the restart, Dragons continued to pressurise the opposition D with some great work by Sam Nutt and Huck Hempsall in running the ball up the side line and individually working their way into the D. As the half time whistle was blown, the score remained 1-1 with the game finely balanced for the second half.

From the restart Dragons continued to move the ball up field although Felixstowe were not there to be a push over and counter attacked well, maybe only being let down by a relatively weak front line. Following a departure from one of our players at half time, due to work commitments, we were left with just the 11 men, so Mike had to drop Owain Hall back into the right back position from the attacking midfield he had played in during the first half. Obviously wanting to get back into the action in the opposing D, Owain made a number of strong runs up the right wing which, after a scramble near the top of the D, culminated in Owain striking a great goal to put Dragons 2-0 ahead.

Dragons taking the lead motivated Felixstowe to come straight back at us and during a period of sustained Felixstowe pressure, James King made a number of well-judged saves as well as showing good control when faced with non-scoring balls fired in from the Felixstowe attacking midfielders.

With the game moving into the last 15 minutes, consistent, match long pressure from our centre forwards, Tommy Chapman and Ed Crosier, in the final third of the pitch resulted in a Tommy Chapman assisted, Ed Crosier goal to give Dragons 6s a more comfortable 3-1 lead. At this point, although still a Development team player, Isaac Hall was substituted on to give him his first taste of adult hockey. Your scribe is pleased to report that Isaac was unfazed and played a confident last 10 minutes of the match. The final whistle brought the game to an end with Dragons 6s having earned a good win against a very evenly matched opposition. With time to reflect on the first half of the season over the break (and a concerted effort to keep away from too much Christmas pud), Dragons 6s should be  back in the new year, ready to turn over some of our recent results and continue winning ways.

For another strong performance in goal, James King was awarded man of the match. Happy Christmas to all, from Norwich Dragons 6th team!

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons A: No Fixture

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons B p-p Dereham 

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 9-0 Watton