A number of photos from the day here.
Women’s East Hockey League East Prem
Norwich Dragons 1s 1-0 Harleston Magpies 2
The last match before the Christmas break saw Dragons make the short trip over the border to Harleston. With Dragons unbeaten in 5 and Magpies form improving this was always going to be a closely fought encounter, unlike the opening match of the season where Dragons put eight past their local rivals.
The game started evenly with both teams unable to keep the ball particularly well. Dragons start was well below par and it took a while for the players to settle into the game. Magpies capitalized on this and were able to win a succession of early short corners to put the Dragon’s defence under pressure. Determined work in the windy conditions by Maddie Denman and Hollie Limmer, meant that nothing came of these attacks. Dragons eventually started putting their passing game together with the endless running of Rachel King creating some good chances with one spectacular reverse stick shot going inches wide.
The second half was of much better quality from Dragons and they looked like the team who were fourth in the table. However, they still had to rely on some fantastic saves from player of the match Siobhan Cleeve to thwart Harleston when they did break forward. With minutes remaining Dragons won their first short corner of the match when Rachel King burst through into the box. It was King herself who took the initiative from the corner, neatly sidestepping a defender and striking the ball. The GK saved the first shot but could do nothing about the venomous strike from Stacey Lee that put the Dragons ahead. Dragons were able to hold on for the last few minutes to complete their first double of the season and extend their unbeaten run to 6, with 5 wins amongst them.
Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons 2s 3-2 City of Peterborough 1
The final game of 2015 saw joint league leaders City of Peterborough Ladies 1’s arrive, in style to the Dragon’s Den. With their music beating in the changing rooms and during the warm-up, the Peterborough team were clearly ‘upbeat’ and preparing well for the match. Dragons had their very own ‘Beater’ with Shelly Seaman replacing the unfortunately injured Ally Windsor-Waite in defence. Dragons were also missing Rowie York-Smith, meaning the defence had a slightly different look for the final game before the break. In addition, the home team welcomed back Aoife Lowe-Davies, who kindly helped them out this weekend, as injuries were taking their toll on the squad.
Dragons got off to a flying start, looking to get in behind the very high press of the Peterborough team, right from the first push back. Dragons had the luxury of the pace of Marcy Windsor Waite, Aoife Lowe-Davies and Laura Shreeve meaning they could exploit the space in behind the back 3. An early break lead to the winning of a short corner, which was expertly struck from the top of the D by Gail Thomas, taking a slight deflection on the way through and flying into the goal, for an early lead.
The home team looked up for the fight and continued to press their opponents, rather than rest on this early goal lead – a break down the left saw Pip Howes find Aoife Lowe-Davies, who beat her defender with pace and skill, and fired the ball across the D, which was neatly glanced in behind the keeper by the prolific Laura Shreeve (Dragons very own ‘goal a game’ Jamie Vardy!), for a 2-0 lead mid-way through the half.
The score flattered the home team a little, as Peterborough were very well drilled, with some quick attacking players and strength in the middle. This meant the Dragons defensive unit of Shelly Seaman, Angela Murgatroyd, Sophie Thomas and GK Amy Forse needed to be at their sharpest and make quick decisions to clear the danger. This they all did extremely well and despite the travelling team earning a number of short corners, these were expertly dealt with, with Karen O’Neill Simpson particularly showing great pace and bravery to charge down a number of well struck efforts.
Dragons knew they were going to have to continue to show the same workrate and desire in the 2nd half, as the young Peterborough team were ‘hurting’ going into the break at 2-0 down and their coaching team were clearly demanding a reaction from them. Peterborough continued to press high, however to their credit, so did Dragons, forcing Peterborough to play the ball round the back, leading to a number of unforced errors.
A spell of early Dragons pressure in the half, saw them earn a short corner. This was initially broken down, however the ball fell to Pip Howes in a good position in the D, whilst she could easily have attempted the shot, her quick thinking and awareness of the position of the Keeper, meant Howes calmly passed the ball wide to the left post, where Hannah Hardy in space, and was able to fire home for a 3-0 lead.
Peterborough then showed why they were joint leaders in this league, attacking with pace particularly down their right. A first goal came from one such attack, the ball being pulled across the D to an attacker at the back post, who drilled home for 3-1. The second followed not long afterwards, with a short corner which was neatly worked beyond the strong Dragons defence. So, with around 15 minutes left on the clock the game was very much in the balance at 3-2.
From here on Dragons needed to battle and that they did, to a player, giving everything they had for the good of the team. The forward line of Laura Shreeve, Geo Beckwith, Aoife Lowe-Davies and Hannah Hardy ran down every hit out, forcing the visitors into errors. The midfield of Gail Thomas, Pip Howes, Marcy Windsor-Waite and Pollyanna Watson got their stick to every lose ball and managed to break Peterborough’s rhythm. Finally the defensive unit, including Player of the Match, Shelly Seaman, Karen O’Neill Simpson, Angela Murgatroyd, Sophie Thomas and GK Amy Forse remained completely solid and quelled any threats to the goal during that last, tense 15 minute spell.
So the final whistle blew to seal the 3pts and a reversal of the 3-2 scoreline at Peterborough in the first game of the season. Having secured 13 points from a possible 15, Dragons will be delighted with their recent form, as they get to grips with this League. Still lots of work to do, and important to now rest and recover from injuries over the break but also maintain their fitness levels. Well done and thanks to all the Coaches, players and sideline support, for their efforts and commitment to date!
Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 3s 9-0 Carrow 1
Starting the second half of the season comfortably in the top half of the table Dragons 3s were ready to return to their winning form, and they did so with style. From the offset Dragons played with composure, holing their shape and moving the ball well across the pitch. The first half saw three goals from the Dragons, all from short corners. The first a straight strike from PoM Debs Smith, next a patient one-two between Natasha Blyth and Debs Smith around the Carrow side to secure the second. The third out to Holly Bailey to strike, the rebound followed up to be secured by the teamwork of Debs Smith and Issy Wolfe (who secured the goal on the post).
When Carrow contested goal a sharp Kristina Smyth kept the conceded goals to nil with a stick deflection on the right corner.
Lots of positive play with textbook triangles, and switching swiftly through the defenders (Laura Brice, Sarah Wagstaff and Carmel Windsor-Waite) helped create lots of space for the Dragons.
Half time score Carrow 0:3 Dragons
Going into the second half the one aim given from Captain Natasha Falzon to the players was to score in open play. The team promptly responded working hard no matter the score line. A long corner taken by Natasha Falzon to a waiting Natasha Blyth just outside the right of the D was expertly stepped in to the area and struck with great force, deflecting off of a Carrow defender and into the roof of the net.
Gaining in momentum and seizing every opportunity Dragons continued. Wolfe taking a quick free hit from half way, slipping it right to Katie McKenna who in turn moved the ball swiftly onto a waiting Sian Lawrie to get the fifth goal.
Capitalising on another short corner opportunity a strike from Smith was pinched off of the line by Wolfe seeing the score to 0:6.
Still not stopping this time Smith and Sian Lawrie worked in duo to score from a tap in on the left post.
Still making use of all of the pitch Lauren Lawrie switched through Windsor-Waite with a mighty ball to an again waiting Blyth. Her magnificent cross was expertly deflected into the goal by a sprinting S Lawrie.
The final goal was worked in well between Blyth and McKenna.
Final Score Carrow 1’s 0:9 Dragons 3’s
Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 4s 6-0 Carrow 2
Dragons’ ladies enjoyed another win this weekend. This time they travelled to Langley school on a particularly blustery Saturday. They were delighted by the win, but the score possibly didn’t reflect on how dominant the visitors were today.
Dragons were awarded at least a dozen short corners. They were all well executed with Sophie Farrow doing a sterling job at injecting them. The visitors tried a number of different approaches involving the entire forward and midfield lines. The ball agonisingly avoiding the goal on all but one occasion. Sophie Farrow converted the only goal from set play; having injected the ball she waited at the left post to deflect the ball into the goal. This is still an area the Dragons aim to improve, as their conversion rate all season has been low. They also had at least a dozen shots that were either saved or drifted wide.
In the first half Dragons tried to take the game to Carrow. Anja Finegan, Sophie Wood and Charlotte Pounder were all using their pace to attack the goal from both flanks. Sophie Wood broke the deadlock with a great strike after fifteen minutes.
A flick was awarded to Dragons when the Carrow captain stopped the ball on the line with her foot. Unfortunately, Sue Cross stepped forward and lifted it straight at the keeper.
The second goal was down to some insightful play from centre midfield Megan Williams, she received the ball just over the half way line, looked up and slotted the ball through a gap in the Carrow defence to find Sue Cross unmarked in the D with only the keeper the beat.
The ball rarely came over the half way line. Not only did Laura Tuck keep a clean sheet, but she only touched the ball in the warm up.
After half time, Dragons only had a 2 – 0 advantage. Following a stern talking to by Captain Kate Atkins at half time and her words “ keep away from number 8” and “PASS the ball!” still ringing in the Dragon ears they tried a different tactic. Instead of running straight at the goal, the team passed the ball around Carrow and found it much more effective. The Carrow defence were strong, but they were not as agile as the young Dragon forwards. The third goal came quite quickly after the break.
Charlotte passing the ball to Sophie Wood, receiving it again, then forwarded it to Anja Finegan who swept it first time past the home team’s keeper.
The fifth goal saw Gemma Rump receiving the ball, pushing it into the D to Megan, who passed it back to Louise Davis and then to Sophie Farrow. Sophie took a shot that was saved by the keeper, but was only cleared a far as Sue Cross who bundled the ball and herself over the line.
The last goal was a lot more stylish. The ball was moved into the D by Megan Williams , Charlotte pushed to back to Gemma Rump. Gemma swept it to Sophie Farrow who lost no time in finding the back of the net.
Megan Williams was very unlucky not to be on the score sheet, two of her shots crossed the line just after the umpire had blown for a short corner.
Scorers : Sophie Wood, Anja Finegan, Sophie Farrow X2, Sue Cross X2
POM : Sue Cross
Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 5s 5-1 Norwich Dragons 6s
Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 6s 1-5 Norwich Dragons 5s
The 5s duly completed their expected win over the 6s in some style, but with the result never in doubt the 6s played with great determination and no pressure. The goals came at regular intervals, and highlighted the differences between the two teams. The 5s have more power in the attacking circle and a little more steel in the defensive circle.
The 6s believe themselves to be a stronger team than at the beginning of the season, and indeed team selection could be a challenge in the second half with so many players at a similar skills level competing for games. So in one sense they were disappointed not to have kept the score down, but at least they scored – a beauty from open play. Lucy Morton picked up a long ball and raced through, beating a defender before slotting the ball confidently past the keeper.
The 6s consider they held their own in the speed and passing moves down the pitch, with Lucy, Catherine Matthews, Jess Vernon, Beth Elgood and Sophie Thurtell all prominent in the attacks. But once entering the attacking circle, the forwards were duly nailed and unable to work a single penalty corner. Once the 5s went a couple of goals up, Beth dropped back and showed tenacity in the tackle, with Rosie Skipp and Sarah Norman also doing plenty of defensive work. Jo Eke dropped to the bottom of the diamond and played her usual 100 per cent game. Ginny Simkin continues to improve week by week, and Katy Saide and Katie Franks got POM votes.
The 5s proved very skilful at pressing the 6s hit outs, which enabled them to keep the 6s penned back in their defensive quarter. Moving Bridget Le Good into defence in the second half relieved the pressure somewhat, and Catherine at the top of the diamond was able to get Jess, Lucy, Rosie and Sophie away more easily. Several players got POM votes and four players shared the honours – Lucy for a great goal, Catherine for her energy, Beth for her tenacity and Kat (the Kat) Speirs for yet another awesome performance in goal. So 5 went in, but you should have seen the ones she saved, blocked, kicked clear. So 6s and 7s – enjoy the festive 7 a side next week from 10 – 12.30 and the relax until January. But not too much!
Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 7s: No Fixture
Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 2-3 Cambridge City 4s
Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 6-0 Lowestoft Railway 1s
A remarkable bout of high availability meant the Dragon’s 2nd team entered the game against Lowestoft Railway with perhaps their strongest side of the season. This allowed them to play a more aggressive formation than normal, with young Richard Gill slotting into the pivotal central midfield role.
In truth Dragons dominated possession through the majority of the game, and it was clear that the additional midfield strength along with a high workrate and slick passing was likely to avoid a repeat of the 4-1 loss suffered against Lowestoft in the opening game of the season.
A number of early half-chances went unconverted, but after a marauding run from Chris Simmonds saw the left back pop up on the right hand side of the visitor’s goal, a pull back to Wolfe for a relatively simple goal set the home side on their way.
Lowestoft attempted to play a counter-attacking game, but they struggled to get through the midfield and tended to turn the ball over too often. This gave Dragons an excellent platform to pressure for more goals. It wasn’t too long before a second was added as Alex Browne slotted home after a cross from Jason Wolfe. Further pressure failed to yield any more goals, and the half time whistle blew with the score at 2-0.
The 2nd half very much followed the pattern of the 1st, before the overwhelming dominance of the Dragons game helped them score a couple of late goals and finish 6-0 winners (via Alex Bilalis-Stone, Tom Rutledge, Jack O’Meara and a 2nd for Wolfe). Lowestoft battled gamely and pressed hard for a consolation goal, but it wasn’t to be – largely because of the defensive excellence of Gill, Robbie Kay, Glenn Masterson and Simmonds. A comfortable result for the home team, who will be hoping to be able to call upon this group of players more after Christmas.
Men’s East Hockey League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 0-4 IES 2s
A game of two halves for the Mens 3s this week, as they travelled down to Ipswich for a very blustery late game.
IES started strong and put the press on Dragons, proving they were more in-tune with the smurf-turf. They linked up well with their forwards and some strikes on goal, gave them the lead, quickly followed by another. Dragons then got into the game and started to work the ball out of defence. Graeme SMITH provided some excellent distribution, particularly to the left side, where James GOODSON was waiting to pick it up. The SAYER brothers (Adam & Lloyd) were in the centre of the pitch and passed well with wingers John IVES and Nick TURNER. However, Dragons only managed a few chances in this half, as IES were putting Dragons under alot of pressure, showing how well drilled they were. IES were rewarded with another 2 goals before the half ended.
Dragons were not to be deterred and came out fighting in the second half. Early on, a shot from Lloyd SAYER just got pipped over the cross bar, and Will KIRBY came close as well. IES still managed to attack strongly and Peter DAVISON and Rich PHILLIS countered, and distributed the ball well out to midfield. Once again Geoff ROBERTS showed good attacking hockey and was unlucky not to get a shot off.
This was a much better half for Dragons, where their passing and determination was evident. Try as they might, Dragons couldn’t get another goal and the game ended with an IES win. Good work in the middle by Nick TURNER earned himself Man of the Match, and a special mention to Robert COYLE, who put in a valiant display in goal for Dragons.
Men’s East League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 1-3 IES 3s
The Mad Hatters (see photos) welcomed IES to the Den on a blustery Saturday morning hopeful that the result wouldn’t emulate the 7-1 drubbing they received in the first fixture of the season. With a blend of youngsters and the more seasoned players – with not much in between, the game started brightly with both teams settling in to what would be a very competitive match.
IES’s first goal came from a rocket of a drag flick at a short corner, beating GK Ben Nkrumah high and wide in the roof of the net. You don’t see many of those in Div 4NE and Dave Pentin did well to get out the way although his beanie would have saved him. Dragons were undeterred and pushed for an equalizer for the remainder of the half but to no avail.
The second half saw our youngsters growing in confidence and man of the match Charlie Nunn tested the IES defence with numerous penetrating runs. It was , however , one of the old guard (Price Snr) who gifted a pacey IES forward a chance which he took well from just inside the ‘D’ beating Nkrumah at the far post. Determined to make things right he immediately took him self off in the hope that talisman Paul Keating (late again!) would make the difference and indeed we did pull one back through the ever willing Will Ives.
2-1 and renewed vigor to try and get something from the match but IES spoilt it by scoring again. This should have settled them down but the reverse happened with Dragons dominating the closing passages of play. A number of short corners went missing as did their captain for a yellow but to no avail. A good game with many positives to take to the second half of the season.
Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 2-3 Norfolk Nomads 2s
On this Windy Saturday afternoon at the UEA, the mighty Dragons faced off against the Experienced Nomads 2s. Dragons started the game well with some steady passing in the middle from Matt (Sat-Nav) Armstrong and Hamish (Usain Bolt) Packham running around like a wild fire. Nomads then came at Dragons with some quick-fire passing and managed to score 2 goals in a matter of minutes.
Dragons then turned the tables with a great passage of play which enabled Joel (Iron Man) Lawrence to cross the ball superbly into the path of Adrian (The Big Cheese) Howes for a lovely goal at the far post. There were also some great balls distributed out by Andy (The Rock) Carver to give the visitors some good attacks before the half was over.
Dragons realised at half time that their game needing improving and an inspiring team talk came in from Adrian (The Big Cheese) Howes which put energy into the Dragons. At the start of the Second half the Nomads were starting to get tired (One of their players may have even been asleep as the second half started) and the Dragons capitalised on this well with some skilful runs down the wing from Tom (Skills) Williams and some great passing and speed in the Nomads half from Hamish (Usain Bolt) Packham and Adrian (The Big Cheese) Howes. Then somehow out of nowhere Josh (Terrible Balance) Bingham managed to laser one through the keeper’s legs to make it 3-2. Nomads then had a few good breaks back at Dragons but Rich (Jürgen) Davis made some great tackles and Chris (Best in the Business) Millar made some outstanding saves to keep the score to just 3-2. Dragons continued to work tirelessly in the midfield and pushed for a third to make it a draw but it didn’t come.
Although the Dragons lost the game they certainly won the second half of the game by a mile. The MOTM with energy and drive to win every ball in the midfield and produce some great passing play was Hamish (Usain Bolt) Packham.
Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 2-3 IES 6s
Not a great start as a call off & non-appearance left skipper Mike Banham seeking out Club Captain Tom Vaughan, who supports the club with his full kit on his back, to play at 5 minutes notice.
The game was delayed as keeper Freddie Dixon, with help from Club coach Jason Wolfe, put together an assorted ensemble (see above). IES started forcibly for 10 mins with Freddie in early action but it was Dragons who struck first with Mike slotting home the first short corner. IES then equalised from open play & went ahead from a flick from a short corner, which Freddie almost got to. The rest of the half was end to end hockey.
Pedro Goss was covering a great deal to the pitch behind the attacking force of Tom & George Bowman & Dragons were unlucky not to draw level. After the break IES got clear to increase their lead. Back came Dragons & the skipper again scored after the keeper parried his initial shot. The game was then run by the Dragon midfield of Sol Blazer, Ray Hansell & Guy Cranfield who pressed forward. This was a relief to the defense of James Hansell(suffering stitch), Rob Lee(still felling a training knock on the head) & McCartney Aldous( who was adding impetus to the attack with several runs down the right).
A third Dragons short was pushed passed the post & a flowing move saw Tom’s rasping shot for an equaliser saved. The standard of hockey in Div 7NE is high & intense & Dragon’s 6’s are capable of competing with them all. The next game v Dereham will be a real test but 4 games in January are within their ability to put a run of results together.
MOM – Mike Banham although the MOM from the skipper(and opposition) was Pedro Goss
Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons 5-5 Pelicans
On Saturday in a windy Kings Lynn, the dev boys drew 5-5 Pelicans. Jose put us 1-0 up with a brilliant reverse stick effort which flew into the top-left corner. Pelicans then equalised shortly after before Tommy went through 1 on 1 and put us 2-1 up. Pelicans again equalised shortly before James and Isaac scored to put us 4-2 up. Pelicans clawed 2 back bringing it to 4-4, and in a nervous last few minutes, Will and Pelicans scored making the final score 5-5 . Overall, we played some very good hockey up top, but a lot to improve on at the back. Joint players of the match were Jose and Bobby.
Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 2-0 Dereham