NDHC League Match Reports: 11/01/2014

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 2-3 Pelicans 1

Dragons’ aspirations for the second half of the season took an early hit on Saturday with a tough 3-2 defeat at home to Pelicans.  With the luxury of a full squad, Dragons were looking to avenge their battering at Pelicans at the beginning of the season but started sluggishly, only young Turnbull looking like he hadn’t been away over the break.  They gave themselves a mountain to climb letting in two very soft goals, the first from a simple ball over the top that Rich Smith failed to deal with – “I couldn’t remember if you were still allowed to bring the ball down with your hand like you were when I started playing” (coach Wagstaff was revealingly sympathetic to Smith’s confusion after the game) – and a second when their short-corner defence literally evaporated, as Overstall would put it later.

It was familiar territory for Dragons and they showed their resilience again, spurning great chances when Flatman steered a well-oiled short-corner routine wide and then Woodward was strangely all at sea when played through on goal.  It should have been worse at the break, though, ‘keeper Collinge called on to save a penalty flick with a brilliant scorpion-kick following Overstall’s latest transgression.  After the match the defender explained “I could have tucked it out for a long-corner but I figured it was better to have the sixteen; he always saves those.”

Dragons regrouped following some not really very stern words from coach and skipper at the break and dominated the second half.  Reward for their dominance came when Flatman brilliantly deflected Charlish’s driven ball into the roof of the net and an equaliser quickly followed, superb passing play leaving Browne with the simple task of tapping the ball into an empty net.  He preferred, though, to wait for a defender’s foot to arrive on the line and to find it, with Snelling called upon to crack home the resulting flick.  Browne claimed later to have been testing out the familiar theory that it’s more rewarding to lay on a goal for a team-mate than to score one oneself:  “Turns out it isn’t.”

Dragons took their foot off the pedal, as if expecting the winner to arrive, and were caught on the break, Collinge unable to pull off a fifth reflex save as Dragons courteously left a succession of rebounds to the visitors.  There was still time for Browne to be denied what would have been a deserved equaliser, a scorching shot tipped wide, but Dragons had left themselves too much to do.

Responding to criticisms of a lack of passion in the side following reports that a number of senior members had been spotted out drinking late on Saturday night, Ed Smith staunchly defended his players:  “no-one hurts from these defeats more than we do.  Besides, it’s important for the boys to take their minds off their hockey from time to time.”  On the departing Woodward, for whom this was the last game for two months, Smith had only warm words:  “He’ll be a big, big miss, on and off the pitch.  Still, even if he can’t help with the team’s push for promotion, if he manages to save the world then at least there will be a Div 2 North for us to play in next year.”


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


Men’s East Hockey League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 4-6 Pelicans 2


Men’s East Hockey League Division 5NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 2-3 Sudbury 3

On a beautiful sunny day the 4ths made the long journey to Sudbury for a match which promised a lot but ultimately ended in dissapointment. Dragons had beaten Sudbury 6-2 earlier in the season and hoped a similar result might be on the cards today.

The game stared well for Dragons where Darryl Robinson made his debut. His great pace and excellent forward work will surely be an asset to the team and we look forward to him playing many more games for the club. Early interchanges went in Dragons favour and our first goal resulted from great work down the right flank by Phil York-Smith resulting in him pinpointing a pass to Jon Price who swept in with aplomb.

Whether Dragons thought the job was done or we switched off, or more probably we awoke Sudbury from a slow start, they started to get a foot hold in the game. With mounting pressure on the defence Sudbury clinically scored their first goal beating our herioc stand in GK Andy Key with a shot to the far post. Their second came from a short corner conceded on the stroke of half time. So 2-1 down at half time.

The second half started as the first finished with Sudbury shading the midfield and putting us under pressure and they soon went 3-1 up. This looked like the probable final score as Dragons were playing better, keeping their forwards out but rarely putting the Sudbury goal under pressure. However with two minutes to go Paul Keating won a penalty flick (though some of his team mates cruelly said it would have been easier to score!) duly despatched by Phil York-Smith.

A nervy finale beckoned but alas Dragons couldnt grab what may have been a deserved draw. Final score 2-3. Man of the Match Jamie Spinks.


Men’s East Hockey League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 4-3 Norwich City 7

Dragons Men 5th beat City 7’s 4-3 with goals from Ollie King, Andrew Cross, Jonty Gosling and Graeme Smith. Dragons started brightly and found themselves 2-0 up within the first 10 minutes, with goals from King and Cross.  A ball to ear incident prematurely ended the return to hockey action for Gareth Green.   Midway through the 1st half Jonty Gosling made it 3-0 to Dragons. City pulled back two goals before half time,  Debutant Graeme Smith added a 4th for Dragons. City responded but never really threatened a 4th. A solid doubt from Robert Coyle in defence and as ever plenty of willing runs and skill from Alex Stone.


Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N 
Norwich Dragons 1s 1:2 St Ives

Norwich Dragons were keen to get an early win under their belts as they played hosts to St Ives. The home team started the better of the two teams and had the majority of the possession in the first half creating a number of chances. Nat Beal continued her goal scoring run by slotting the ball past the St Ives keeper from the top of the D. However Their domination eased off in the last 10 minutes of the half when they began to give possession away cheaply albeit they maintained their lead going into the break.

The second half the Dragons looked  far from their best and looked uncharacteristically lethargic not being able to get into their normal rhythm. st. Ives were strong and hit the Dragons on the break and their forwards looked dangerous keeping the Dragons keeper and player of the match Freddie Briscoe game fully employed. The Dragons were making too many unforced errors and were punished when the ball was blocked on the line illegally;  st Ives were awarded a penalty stroke which was converted in style. The visitors had a sting in their tail and pressurised the home team and took the lead through a well struck strike by Helen CLarke leaving Briscoe no chance.

The Dragons battled well and pressed the St Ives defence in the last ten minutes of the match being awarded a number of short corners but unfortunately were unable to convert and suffered only their second defeat of the season


Women’s East Hockey League Division 2NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 2-0 Cambridge Uni 2

After an adventurous journey down the A11, the Dragons arrived, some not quite on time, but better late than never! Following the Christmas break, Dragons were keen to hit the ground running, to consolidate their 2nd place in Div 2NE. With a much more consistent squad this season, the Dragons are starting to develop a strong understanding as a team, resulting in their current league position.

The University team looked a much improved outfit to the team Dragons beat early on in the season. With strong play in the middle of the pitch, the Dragons central midfielders of Debs Smith and Gail Thomas did well to break down many of the students attacks. It was however, the Dragons defence of Amy Forse, Ally Windsor-Waite, Angela Murgatroyd and Alice Guest, who deserve a great deal of credit, for breaking down many of the University attacks and dealing well with number of short corners, one being taken off the post by Ally Windsor-Waite.

It was not one way traffic however, Dragons had a number of good attacks which forced the Cambridge Uni keeper into a number of saves. One particular effort came from Amy Brown, who neatly picked a well drilled pass from Gail Thomas, however she could not quite force the ball over the line at the back post. Eventually however, the break through came, when the University keeper again pulled off a number of saves, however Captain Hannah Hardy followed up on a rebound, with a close range effort, calmly lifting it over the keeper, to take a 1 – 0 lead going into the break.

The second half was much of the same pattern of play, with some impressive hockey from both teams. The Dragon’s wide midfield players, namely Charly Burgess, Olivia Thomas and Niamh Lowe-Davies put in a lot of work, both attacking and in the defensive wide positions. Equally the forwards, Laura Tompson-Wright, Amy Brown and Sarah Radley, closed down play extremely well and made it hard for the students to break the Dragons defence. When they did break through however, they were faced with Dragons goalkeeper and Player of the Match Amy Forse, who was in inspired form; with one particular save high to her right, receiving appreciation from both her teammates and the watching crowd.

With time running out, Dragons continued to pile on the pressure, a pass from Gail Thomas found Hannah Hardy in space, whose shot to the far post forced another good save from the keeper. Just before the final whistle blew, Dragons earned a short corner, from which they decided to use their special SS routine. Debs Smith executed her pass perfectly, however the next pass in the routine was deflected by the defence and was heading out of the circle. Ally Windsor-Waite managed to throw herself across the D, to prevent the ball going out. She found Sarah Radley in great space, who finished clinically to the keepers left, resulting in celebrations from the Dragons team on the final whistle.

A strong performance from Dragons against a very good University team. With other results going their way, the result took the team to the top of Div 2NE for the first time this season. This league remains incredibly tight however, with just 5pts separating the top 5 teams, so there is a lot more hard work ahead to maintain this position.


Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier League
Norwich Dragons 3s 1-2 Watton 2

Dragons started the first ten minutes with a fast pace, stringing together nice passes around the pitch.  However,  too many mince pies over Christmas had taken their toll and the momentum dropped. There were moments when Dragons appeared likely to score, but shots went wide, or were saved by an agile Watton keeper.

It was the Watton side, whose team members all looked like they wanted the game more,  that broke and scored with a single-player run from the half way line.

Dragons rallied, taking play to the other end and were eventually rewarded with a penalty stroke for a Watton foot on the line.  Player-of-the-match Sophie Thomas stepped up to the spot,  and cleanly took the penalty,  pushing the ball with force into the bottom right hand corner of the goal.

The remainder of the game was end to end,  with close misses from both sides. Dragons’ sweeper,  Sarah Wagstaff,  made key clearances off the goal line.

Watton scored again in free play to secure the result. Dragons just could not find the equaliser.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s League Division 1
Norwich Dragons 4s 0:1 Broadland 2

The first game since 16 November 2013 saw Dragons come out fighting – with an immediate run down the wing and towards the D on the left from Racheal Hipperson. This was followed by some excellent team work from Sophie Farrow and Lynne Price, keeping the ball in Broadland’s 25 and Dragons hope of an early goal alive – however a strong Broadland defence and midfield worked hard to change play at every opportunity and for much of the first half play was end to end.  Sue Cross, Hazel Sumner and Gemma Rump worked the ball through the middle and made some lovely attacks down the right and while the ball frequently made it to the D the first goal never quite came.

The only goal of the game came from a short corner – the result of a ball to the back of a defenders foot – it was a well-placed, slightly lifted strike which found the left-hand corner of the goal.  Dragons once again returned to the attack with Laura Goodbun making some super speedy runs down the entire length of the pitch only to be denied a goal by the keeper and on one occasion the post.

After half time Dragons really dominated play with Holly Bailey and Lorna Travers (PoM) working well through the midfield, creating spaces and letting the ball do the hard work. Again Dragons had numerous attempts on goal including a couple of short corners, but the Broadland defence always seem to be able to clear the ball, sometimes at the last second. During the final 10 minutes of the game even defenders from Dragons had a go at getting the ball into Broadland’s D, with both Abi Cowe and Freya Clogan making runs down the wings in an attempt to snatch and equaliser. Alas it was not to be and the final whistle blew with Dragons unable to score.

There was some really strong play this week from Dragons and this performance bodes well for the rest of the season – we are moving the ball quickly and accurately and the team has developed a lot since September – keep watching this space for the first win of 2014!


Empresa Norfolk Women’s League Division 2
Norwich Dragons 5s 2-1 Breckland

A few photos from this game shown here, without any Breckland players shown, because they asked us not to take photos of their young players.

Ladies Dragons 5s knew they wanted a win after the frustrating 1-1 draw against Breckland in the first half of the season. This week was a real team effort and for that reason I will not mention everyones names as the whole team really deserved this win. The 2nd half was certainly better than the first although Dragons dominated throughout. The first half saw a frustratingly lucky goal for Breckland as Dragons had the majority of the possession.

Dragons came back strong in the second half to secure 2 lovely goals. The first was excellently driven by Anja Finegan up the pitch beating the slower Breckland players and then touched to Izzy Woodcock who took the shot. Izzy was unfortunate to not get  a goal from this and after some eventual scrapping in front of goal Anja poked the goal in. The 2nd goal was converted from a short corner. A beautiful strike from Lizzy McDonnell was saved, this was then retrieved by Lisa Harwood to be planted upwards into the top of the goal. Dragons 5s are back strong but will be stepping up the pace more against Norwich City next week.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s League Division 3
Norwich Dragons 6s 0-7 Beccles

Funny how some 7-0 defeats hardly sting at all, and with Beccles franking their former premier division credentials with every match, and the 6s once again fielding 11 players and three newbies, the Dragons came away rather pleased with themselves and their performance. Beccles started strongly winning a barrage of penalty corners, but it took seven before a hard clean shot beat Harriet Williams, who continued to block and clear well throughout the match. Jasmin Daniels and Lottie Korn were excellent in defence, and Beccles were only two up at the break.

In the second half, Beccles turned on the pressure. All their team hit the ball hard, and several have very good stick skills, but Dragons’ heads did not drop. We are lucky to have discovered three new and true Dragons at this stage of the season, with a couple more waiting to make their debut. Jo Eke was calm and competent at the bottom of the diamond, with Alice Whitmore fast and determined at the top. However, it was Charlotte Pounder, the third newcomer, who waltzed away with the player of the match award. Playing in an unfamiliar role at left mid, her tackling was tenacious and she initiated some useful attacking moves and formed a good understanding with Alice and with Claire Fairhurst, who as usual took up some excellent positions.  Amy Hunter was switched to left forward and gave of her best with runs down the channel and laterally. Amy, Sarah Norman (right forward) and Ciara Willmott (right mid) were the players who suffered most from the crushing machine that is the Beccles defence, but their ability to work the ball upfield with neat and accurate passes will get more rewards against less strong opponents.

Finally, misunderstandings of some sort meant the 6s were two players short in their squad. It probably made no difference to the result, but the ability to rotate players would have taken some of the pressure off when the going got tough. Our former development players will be available to us next week, and availability generally is better.  It is absolutely essential for all individuals to take responsibility for keeping their availability up to date and then check the team sheet that is emailed on Thursday morning. If you are available, but you can’t train on any Wednesday night, be sure to let Claire or Bridget know if you still want to be considered for the match on the following Saturday.


Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 2-0 Lowestoft (f)

Girls dev played a friendly against a Lowestoft side that included 3 adults (including their keeper) and won 2 nil. An own goal and goal from Rachel Bruce. MOM Lucy Morton. Really well played girls. You obviously play better without adults on your team!

The team also had two under 12 girls getting some dev league experience: Esme Potter and Jodi Rump.


Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons: No Fixture