After a long trip down to Watford, dragons ladies ones arrived a lovely hour and a half early for push back! A turn of events from the previous away match’s arrival- 5 minutes late for push back but this time allowing enough time to shake off the journey. A team walk, a strong pre-match chat from coach Peter Thomas and a thorough warmup organised by Emma Tabbrett set the Dragons in good stead for the match against top of he league West Herts. The dragons stuck to their game plan, holding a very strong, disciplined and defensive formation which made it unimaginably frustrating for their opposition. With every player holding their role on the pitch, defending numerous short corners the Dragons held their own and kept the score line to a nil nil draw. Player of the match went to goal keeper Siobhan Cleeve.
With injury problems continuing to effect the first team squad, the 2’s were also hit this week, losing Aoife Lowe-Davies, sidelined due to a nasty head injury sustained in a school fixture (get well soon Aoife). Dragons were forced to reshuffle the pack with players moving up to the 1’s and Kate Trelawny Gower making herself available, despite working her 3rd consecutive night shift and arriving having had just 2 hours sleep!
Early encounters saw Dragons start brightly against the 2-3-5 formation of City. Forwards Laura Shreeve and Marcy Windsor-Waite started brightly and a sharp attack down the right by Shreeve, saw the ball cross the face of the goal, with no-one quite managing to get onto the back post.
The well drilled and organised City team grew into the game and had more than their share of pressure, especially in the last 20 minutes of the half, which saw Dragons have to defend well, the back line of Sophie Thomas, Angela Murgatroyd, Ally Windsor-Waite and Hollie Limmer, working extremely hard as a defensive unit to keep the scores all square. It was, however, Dragon’s Player of the Match, Freddie Briscoe who must get special mention, for her command of the D and excellent stops, but most importantly for her penalty flick save towards the end of the half. From a spell of pressure, a City strike hit a Dragons foot as it headed towards the goal-line, hence a flick was awarded. Frankie Birkenhead stepped up to take, however Freddie Briscoe managed to save with her pads, much to Dragons’ relief.
With excellent sideline support and words of advice from Mark Flatman and Mike Hardy, the message to the team was to continue the high work rate and great discipline they had shown in the first half. The team didn’t disappoint, with the midfield ‘engine’ of Hannah Ellis, Gail Thomas and Karen O’Neill Simpson looking to drive the team forward, with power and width. A number of short corners were forced by both teams, but the defences continued to stand strong, with both Keepers having outstanding games. Eventually however, the break through came, following a broken down Dragons short corner, the ball was cleared out to the top of the D, where Marcy Windsor-Waite was in perfect position to stop the ball, and play a pin-point, controlled pass into Hannah Hardy in the D. Hardy turned near the P spot, and fired the ball goalwards, which flew into the top corner of the goal, much to the delight of the team and the sideline support.
Buoyed by the goal, Dragons continued to press and had a couple of good opportunities to secure the points, however City always threatened on the break, but the score remained 1-0. The final whistle went and a great local derby was won by the home team, to secure another 3 points and extend their lead at the top. Credit must go to both umpires, who umpired the game superbly allowing it to flow. Also credit to both teams for putting on a really strong competitive top of the table clash.
The season is still in its early stages and nothing is won or lost at this time, but the Dragons 2’s are delighted to remain at the top. The spirit of the team and the desire to work for each other, remains the key to the team’s success.
With perfect hockey conditions, Dragons ventured to UEA for their home fixture against Diss, currently second from bottom in the Premier Division of the Empresa League.
Having had a slip date last week, it was vital that Dragons should go out hard from the start. This they did. Sharp passing, using the full width of the pitch well, and fast movement both on and off the ball resulted in a short corner within the opening minutes of the game. The injection was stopped and slipped quickly to Deb Smith on the right, then passed straight back to Caroline Wolfe on the p-spot. An easy sweep straight into the goal, and Dragons were off.
The second goal came from free play, with deft passing in triangles around the struggling Diss defence. A cross from the right from Geo Beckwith to Smith was moved on to Holly Bailey, who put the ball in the net past the Diss keeper.
The third, shortly before half time, resulted from another short corner routine. Amelia Dawson slipped the ball right to Smith, whose initial shot rebounded back to Dawson’s stick. A calm yet strong push defeated the defenders on the post; Diss heads by this time were hanging low.
Diss rallied after the half time break, and penetrated the Dragons’ half more often, but tenacious tracking back by full backs Natasha Falzon and Harriet Green ensured that the Diss attackers were guided on to Sarah Wagstaff who defended
Dragons’ keeper Amy Forse had little to do today, but on the odd occasion when play breached the Dragons D, she cleared the ball cleanly and to safety.
Dragons allowed themselves to bunch at times, and it was evident that having more time than usual on the ball caused split second changes in decisions, which in turn caused some easy chances to be missed. However, discipline returned,
The remaining quarter of the match was controlled by the Dragons’ midfielders of Watson, Smith, Beckwith and Hazel Sumner, dishing the ball wide for Sophie Farrow and the other forwards to run on to. Yet another short corner was won, and this time the slipped strike at goal from Smith hit the foot of a Diss defender. Amelia Dawson stepped up to the mark; having considered the lack of movement on display from the Diss keeper, she took a strong yet simple push to score at the left post.
It was evident today that the additional short corner practice after training sessions has paid off.
It is amazing how having just one week away from the pitch can make a difference. Dragons found the first 15 minutes of this game a real challenge, the easy passing, smooth play and strong possession from previous weeks seemed to have evaporated and it was a struggle to hold Lowestoft back. Solid defending from Freya Clogan and Louise Davis held many early attacks at bay and fantastic keeping from Laura Tuck (PoM) saw some excellent shots saved. Dragon’s midfield had to battle hard to gain possession and Mel Widdows, Sarah Moore and Laura Bruce took every opportunity to move the ball forward, but solid man marking thwarted many attempts to get the ball to our forwards.
After about 20 minutes Dragons began to find their feet a bit more and well considered passing began to make an impact, with Sue Cross and Chelsea Crawford having some good attacks on goal, but well organised defending saw all attempts cleared. Kate McKenna tried several runs down the right wing and was able to make it to the D only to be denied by the keeper.
Following half time Dragons seemed to have more determination to win, with more assertive passing and definitely more attempts on goal, their closest chance came from a short corner, expertly struck by Sue Cross and saved right on the line. . Midfield definitely saw the majority of the play in this half, it was a continual effort to try and move the ball into the oppositions half, this meant that when breaks in play happened there wasn’t anyone to pass the ball to, making it a running game, which is tiring and slower, giving the opposition more time to regroup.
Gemma Rump and Katie Buxton worked well during the second half, constantly turning play and moving the ball back towards the Lowestoft goal. There were a couple of well-timed shots from Kate McKenna and Mel Widdows but the keeper was on form and stopped them all. Lowestoft Railway continued to work hard and this well balanced game constantly shifted direction with both teams determined to score up until the final whistle blew.
The Ladies 5 arrived early at Loddon to face Beccles with the sun shining down, to find an extremely sandy pitch! Unfortunately we hadn’t brought buckets and spades but with our sticks we had lots of time to practise all the moves on a very slow pitch. The team knew we had to work hard as in the league table we were one point above Beccles and did not want to lose our place.
For the first half, Giselle in goal had little to do as our defence of Carmel, Alice and Jasmin were quick to close down the Beccles players and fire the ball back up the pitch. The midfield of Laura, Rosie, Chiara and Helen worked well with lovely passes between each other to work the ball up the pitch, and it felt like we were pinballing the Beccles players. The Beccles defence equally worked hard to keep us out of the D and it was a struggle to get the ball through. With an opportunity from a short corner, Rachael slipped it right to Rosie who gave it a crack toward goal unfortunately it lifted and we were denied. At the end of half time the score 0-0.
With David’s support and guidance we knew that we had the pace just needed more power behind our passes to move the ball quicker up the pitch. The team were ready and wanted the win. So did Beccles they came out with a vengeance, and were quick to the ball intercepting our passes and used to the pitch they fired some lovely balls down to their forwards. Giselle made some great saves, charging at the forwards, kicking the ball clear. The pressure was high, the battle was on and we found ourselves travelling up and down the pitch. With not much time left Jade, Issy and Anja made great runs with the ball down the pitch, but they were closed down quickly. And we couldn’t work it round their players. The whistle blew still no goals for either team. After the game everyone felt disappointed but Beccles were an experienced team and we were quite equally matched. With a draw we still held the same position in the table.
For future games we need to make sure we adjust our play to compensate for the pitch conditions, with more welly needed behind the ball on slow pitches and longer passes to cover more distance.
Dragons suffered their biggest defeat of the season so far, but using a predominantly young side could have been said to have stood up well to something of a Loddon onslaught. Amy Forse in goal had in front of her Katy Saide, Jess Tye-Leech and Katie Franks, and they held out well as a defensive unit. Bella Capps, player of the match, was moved up to left mid and had an excellent game. She blocked and tackled with vigour, and made some telling sweep clearances down the channel and into the centre.
Jo Eke was once again at the bottom of the diamond, a position where she excels. Together with Megan Farrant, who played at the top of the diamond, Dragons had two brave players who were prepared to run themselves into the ground and do their best to distribute the ball to the mids and forwards. Unfortunately, it was not quite enough on the day. Loddon was the team most often first to the ball – and not because they were intrinsically quicker, but because the Dragons’ passes, though usually accurate enough, were just too soft and begged to be intercepted. Dragons also tried to drive the ball through the middle, where Loddon were at their strongest. The goals came regularly through the first half, but in the second Loddon managed only one, with perhaps some of their team starting to feel the effects of playing in a Premier division match that morning. Dragons got the ball in the net once, but sportingly admitted that the attacker had been outside the D (just!) before the ball went in off a defender. Dragons are hoping that good karma, a lot more hard work on passing and some penalty corner practice will get them back to winning ways next week.
A few photos from the game here.
Dragons Ladies 7s had their first win for a while against Carrow 3. The match started off fairly even, with Dragons taking their time to get warmed up into the game. However, Dragons fought for the ball, getting it into the D, and a lovely cross from Jane Morton to Captain Claire Fairhurst resulted in a goal in the first 10 minutes. Carrow tried to come back, with both sides fairly well matched and Dragons giving away the ball from silly mistakes. Carrow succeeded in winning a short corner that Dragons tried to get out and away but unfortunately the ball managed to find its way into the goal, bringing the score to 1-1 at half time.
A pep talk at half time had the Dragons fired up, not wanting to leave the match on a draw. Carrow tried pushing up the pitch but kept being intercepted by Tracy Stuart-Sheppard and Gill Walker who passed it on to Lucy Morton and Izzi Ferguson. When Carrow did manage to get into the D, GK Christina Murgatroyd did some great saves, kicking the ball away for defenders Jo Baker, Rebecca Elkins and Emma North to get out and pass up the pitch. Dragons got the ball into the D, making plenty of attempts on goal and winning a short corner. Catherine Matthews (POM) got in on the post and pushed the ball into goal, bringing Dragons to 2-1 up. Dragons kept on battling hoping to get another goal, trying to shoot in the D, with Dragons defenders shouting themselves hoarse with encouragement. Charlotte Utting stopped the ball if it came out, passing to Helena Baker who attempted to shoot, as did the other forwards and mids, but Carrow had some strong defenders who kept stopping the shots.
Dragons were elated when the final whistle went, proud with the achievement of the 2-1 win.
Dragons’ poor run continued as they crashed to a 6-1 defeat against visitors March on Saturday. The side were bolstered by the return of Ed Smith and of skipper Alex Overstall for the first time this season. The side started well enough, the teams tactically matching up against one another, leaving room for Sam Avery and Alex Browne to exploit up front and George Walker keeping things ticking in the midfield. The game turned on its head with three goals to March inside five minutes, the visitors’ striker first working half a yard for himself before cracking a shot past Bell into the roof of the net and then weak tackling twice allowing to glide in and finish, first from a hit inside the 25 and then from a short-corner routine. Dragons pulled one back before the break, Browne holding the ball up well before playing in Jonty Gosling whose inch-perfect pass Rupert Snelling lifted over the onrushing keeper with a sumptuous touch.
The side reverted to a 4-4-2 at the break and again started the half brightly, controlling the tempo of the game and fashioning a succession of chances, Browne twice getting in behind, an Avery cross narrowly eluding Nick Charlish at the far-post, and Tom Rutledge not quite able to find Gosling in front of the keeper. The tactical reshuffle left them exposed to the long ball, though, and March nicked a fourth when Rich Smith chested an aerial into the path of the March striker to dispatch past Bell. Two more came quickly, one from a fast break as Dragons committed numbers forward in desperate search of goals, and the other a soft goal from a short corner.
Dragons were hurt by too many innacuracies all over the pitch and punished by a clinical March side whom they might feel they should have had enough to match. Next week they will have to bounce back at the league leaders, Cambridge City.
The 2nd XI traveled away to King’s Lynn to meet 5th placed Pelicans 2nd XI. Pelicans had performed well so far this season with W4 D2 L1 GF20 GA15 Pts14 having earned draws with UEA at home and Newmarket at home. The 2nd XI looked to replicate the success on the pitch during last Sunday’s 5-3 win against East London Men’s 2nd XI in the England Hockey 2nd XI Cup. Elliot Wang looks set to make the 2nd XI his home for the rest of the season with some fine performances last weekend and Cley Hamilton joined the 2nd XI for the first time this season to help bolster our attacking line. Sam Worster was welcomed back to the team after several weeks off due to work commitments.
Dragons pushed-back and battled against high winds to form a very fine opening display of hockey. Possession was high and the momentum going forward was much improved on previous weeks, working on speed of the ball moving forward and avoiding slowing play down to keep the opposing team on their back foot. The midfield for both teams looked evenly matched as Dragons continued to show their worth and strength as a team. Chris Simmonds and Lewis Wilkins worked well together on the left whilst under pressure and Mitch Smith playing in the DMF role provided great strength on the ball and as the outlet to recycle the ball and switch sides. Sam Worster put in some great passes and interceptions even after a month of no hockey and pushed forward on the right-hand side. Lewis Wilkins surged forward and found himself in the opposition D, dragging the ball back to a well positioned Jason Wolfe who swept in the first goal of the game. 1-0. Pelicans restarted and hadn’t quite found their footing yet in this game but this first goal made them realise this and they pushed back hard. The ball finally got to their forwards who finally had some decent time on the ball and they showed the Dragons defence what they were capable of. Pelicans’ forwards were allowed just a little space and a few seconds to turn on the top of the D and let rip some very powerful shots that were on target but were kept out by some incredible, acrobatic goalkeeping from Elliot Wang. More and more strong-side and reverse-side hits came from the top of the D and it became apparent they Dragons really needed to close these players down quickly and give them no space to move or hit. Piers Gordon-Brown and Danny Knights worked well together and managed to snuff out quite a few of the early attacks made by Pelicans. Pelicans won the first short corner of the game but were unable to trap the ball cleanly. The ball stayed within the 25 yard line and worked its way back into the D for another big strike which buried itself into the netting. 1-1.
Dragons kept to their formation and continued to work well and pressurised the Pelicans defence. Play continued to work very well up the right-hand side of the pitch for Dragons with Rich Phillis, Sam Mann, Simon Nisbet and Sam Worster providing some great individual displays and strength on the ball. Some quick attacking plays helping Dragons beat a lot of the Pelicans defence with the ball finding its way to an awaiting Rory Jackson at the back post and with an open goal in front of him. The sweep shot that ensued unfortunately found only astroturf as the goal that should have been was not. A period of 10 minutes of Pelicans hockey followed that brought about 3 quick consecutive goals. Some Dragons substitutions had been made and Chris Simmonds and Piers Gordon-Brown found themselves off the pitch which altered the dynamic of the back 5. Pelicans managed to play straight down the middle and arrive at the top of the D and unleashed powerful shots from their capable forwards that found the goal from each shot allowed. 1-2, 1-3 and 1-4. Dragons made some adjustments to the players on pitch and once again found strength in the middle of the pitch and put on some good, quick attacking hockey. Dragons managed a few final attacks of the first half with Rory Jackson finding space but narrowly missing the goal as the ball grazed the right-hand post. Half time, 1-4.
The second half was another good balance of hockey between these two side with great defensive and attacking hockey on show that made for a quick and exciting to watch game. Dragons had good possession of the ball but began to feel a little rushed at times with the balls being hit straight up the pitch to an unknown receiver. Balls from the defence, at the right, were also pushed straight up the right wing through players to a varying amount of success and appeared to be signs of some frustration as to the scoreline. On the other hand some great teamwork was on show as Dragons on the ball found themselves in difficult situations and rolled the ball neatly out to players behind who were then able to distribute to space. The mood on the pitch was good and Dragons performed well in the final quarter of the pitch. Mitch Smith found himself barricaded in the right corner and maintained possession despite the numbers of players not on his side. The ball found its way into the Pelicans D on a number of occasions and whizzed passed the goal but no conversions were made. Cley Hamilton put on some strong displays both on and off the ball and really made Pelicans work hard to get the ball from him or around him, which frustrated them. Piers Gordon-Brown half-intercepted a through ball on his reverse upright stick only for the ball to find itself well placed for the Pelicans forward which led to a 2 on 1 at the Dragons goal which surprisingly found the Pelicans player at the back post who then hit the post and a last dash scramble to secure the ball narrowly failed. 1-5. Dragons hit back and kept their heads up as the rain began to fall. Cley Hamilton and Jason Wolfe working well together in the final quarter and a failed clearance from Pelicans allowed Rory Jackson to finally step in and find the goal. 2-5. The game was restarted and the game continued to be well balanced; great attacking and defensive displays from both sides. Both Mitch Smith and Sam Mann made use of the progressively wetter pitch with some great sliding tackles that continued on for around 10 feet. Lewis Wilkins held the midfield well and again combined with Chris Simmonds very well on the left-hand side that made it difficult for Pelicans to make much headway. Pelicans had a number of short corners in this half that were either well defended or mis-trapped, but the final short corner of the game was slipped to a striker on their left who hit straight at Elliot Wang only for the ball to barely creep through his legs. 2-6. A soft goal unfortunately and another that could have been avoided and could have made a huge difference to the game if Dragons had managed to put away a few more of their chances. The scoreline not really reflecting the balance of the game as a whole. A great display of hockey from this Dragons side and easily their best game of the season so far. Full time. 2-6.
Dragons 2nd XI remain one place from the bottom of the table and need to carry forward this strong performance into some of the following games. Dragons really need to take advantage of some of the other lower placed teams to make sure that they do not find themselves relegated from 3NE. The strength of this Dragons side really does belong in this league and it would be incredibly unfortunate if they were to be relegated.
Next week the 2nd XI are at home to Harleston Magpies 3rd XI who currently sit just one place and two points above Dragons in 3NE with a record of W1 D2 L5 GF18 GA21 Pts5 and who lost over the weekend 4-2 to Bury St Edmunds 1st XI. Dragons should be eying this up as points to be won but, as ever, should not underestimate this side who performed very well last season, finishing in 4th position.
This week saw Dragons at home to IES 3s. A 5-0 preseason win over IES meant that IES were going to be coming looking for revenge.
Dragons started strong and some brilliant play down the right by John IVES led to some probing attacks into the IES area. IES got themselves into the game soon after and managed some attacks themselves. The Dragon defence of Peter DAVISON, Jon GOODSON and Will MAIN had to work to keep IES at bay. For a period of time, Dragons did struggle to get the ball over the halfway line, but through perseverance and quick passing, the Dragon defence were able to link up with the midfield. When the ball came down the left, Dragon left mid (and fastest man alive), Will IVES would make some storming runs down the left, on one occasion, ghosting past a few IES players and managing a reverse stick cross.
Eventually Dragons’ efforts were rewarded when forward Matt JENKINS was slotted a pass from fellow forward Adie KEMP. JENKINS dispatched the ball into the backboard. Despite a couple of short corner opportunities from both teams, the score remained 1-0 to Dragons at halftime.
The second half started poorly for Dragons as an IES winger waltzed down the right side and let off a shot which slipped past keeper Dim IVES. Dragons didn’t let their heads go down and kept battling. Excellent work by Stu KELLY led to IES finding it hard to get through the centre of the pitch. This meant that IES were trying to play the long ball, something which the Dragon defence were more than able to cut out every time.
Suddenly, amidst the darkening clouds and rising winds, a light shone. Out of that light appeared two GOODSON brothers, Rob and James. With confetti still in their hair, they took to the pitch and Dragons’ energy was renewed. Dragons kept up the attacks, with all of the players linking up together. Good play down the right from John IVES and Nick TURNER led to another JENKINS goal. Further efforts resulted in another goal for Dragons, and there was the feeling that enough had been done as the clock was ticking down. The game ended and Dragons had won 3-1.
A hard-fought game where at times Dragons made it hard for themselves, but once again proved that hard work and teamwork can get the results. A further 3 points added to their tally, keeping them in 3rd place in their league. Next week Dragons take on the fresh, young players of the UEA.
After a scrappy 2-1 win, Dragons now lead the division by 5 points. Dragons have made a habit of winning difficult games this season and did so again against a strong Bury 4 side who will justifiably feel they deserved something from the game.
In the first half, both teams struggled for fluency and the umpires were given a tricky job by the players on both sides. A strong defensive performance from Dragons back four of Neil Shorten, Jon Price, Paul Keating and MoM Andy Hipper snuffed out the Bury attacks, whilst Dragons could only create a few half chances themselves.
Following a talking to by the captain at the behest of the umpires, Dragons lost concentration for a moment, which was all it took for a Bury player to use his pace to beat a couple of Dragons defenders and score with a well struck shot.
Dragons regrouped and started to pressurise the Bury defence with Robbie Whiting in particular getting in some good positions. Suddenly, Jon Price found himself unexpectedly high up the pitch, carried on into the D and smashed home from a narrow angle. Half time 1-1.
Dragons continued their defensive efforts in the second half, the midfielders forced deeper than they would have liked and therefore finding it hard to link up with the forwards. Hipper and Keating were effective in working the ball down the wide channels, linking up well with Bradley and Rohan on the wings and Rob C-B, Andy Cross and Whiting up front.
Midway through the half, Robbie W was able to find a bit of space at the top of the D and saw his shot deflected past the despairing keeper off a Bury foot. 2-1 to Dragons.
In the Dragons goal, Giles Brooks made several saves to maintain the lead and further strong defensive play saw Dragons hang on to claim their 7th win form 8 games this season with only 6 goals conceded. Another satisfying team performance.
Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons 7:0 Pelicans
Dragons made a good start to the game, with some good attacking play, earning a spate of short corners and we got close to scoring with Charlie Nunn, Harry W and Gus Cringle only kept out either by the Pelly goalie or a few inches off target. George B and Ollie worked well together enabling midfielders to push up. On the fifth short Charlie did some great dribbling around their defenders and good a clean strike to put Dragons up 1-0. A few minutes later at another short corner a strike by Charlie was saved and their defender picked up the rebound but tackled by Pedro who went around another to make it 2-0. Gus came very close a couple of minutes later with some sweeps just slightly off target. The pressure exerted by Dragons resulted in Pelicans having trouble clearing the ball and a few minutes later Charlie N scored again.
However, Pellicans were quick on the break and our defence kept alert, with McCartney and James doing some excellently timed tackles, and linking up with Luke B who was excellent at enabling the Dragons to get on the offensive again, though took a bit of a whack on the ankle in one encounter.
Ben N kept alert and made a couple of good saves and reacted quickly to a long ball from outside the D, which he left expecting to go for a 16, but hit the post and Pelly forwards were quick to spot, though Ben safely cleared towards the corner. Harry B feeding the ball to midfield who
In the second half we were again on the offensive and in less than a couple of minutes we had a short corner, and George B was in exactly the right place at the post to knock it in. In less than a minute Raunaq made a great run dribbling around the goalie to score number five
Tom L had a good game, making some key tackles, and confidently passing square balls to other midfielders or linking up with Ollie, Charlie, Raunaq or Pedro who all worked well together.
At this stage George Walker swapped players about giving all a chance to play in unfamiliar positions; with McCartney at centre forward, Raunaq in defence etc. Some great passing ended with a fine goal from Harry W. Luke was taken off after taking a hit just above his shin pad, but after 10 minutes and a bandage was keen to get back on the pitch.
All in all a great performance – excellent defence and clearing, some confident attacking play with all working hard to track back. A well deserved win.
Final score 7-0 (Charlie Nunn 3; and one each for George B, Harrry W, Raunaq R, and Pedro G)
Man of the match Ollie Shippam
Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons: No Fixture