NDHC League Match Reports: 11/02/2017

Women’s East Hockey League Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 1s 2-3 Cambridge Uni 1

After a hard fought draw with top of the league Bedford last weekend, Dragons 1sts were looking to take 3 points from Cambridge University, sitting  just below them in the league. Unfortunately, just 38 seconds in to the match, Lou Murray was struck on the chin and subsequently spent the rest of the match on the sideline. Sophie Mullan stepped in to join the defence and had a great game haranguing the Cambridge attack.

The defence withstood a great deal of attacking play from Cambridge, who were fit and well drilled. Sarah Jenkins, who would ultimately win player of the match, commanded from the back again, ably assisted by Hollie Limmer and Holly Reding. On the attack, Dragons looked dangerous but despite a couple of breakaway efforts, could not convert. The dragons repelled many waves of attack but Cambridge won a host of penalty corners, from which they eventually scored 2 goals. They were 2-0 up at half time.

The opposition caught the Dragons sleeping as the match restarted and they scored a 3rd goal soon after the break. But never a team to give up, the Norwich ladies fought back bravely. Siobhan Cleeve kept the score as low as possible with a handful of incredible saves and the defence worked hard to repel the opposition. With 20 minutes left to play, Stacey Lee and Liv Leary combined effectively down the left hand side of the pitch and managed to scramble the ball over the line to pull one goal back. Lara Taylor battled bravely on the right throughout the game and continued her sterling work. 

Tabba Tabrett’s energy and fight were undiminished in the second half and another goal line scramble led to the Dragons being awarded a penalty flick. Tabrett strode to the spot, and against an old acquaintance in goal, expertly brought the score to 3-2 with a brilliantly taken flick. There were a couple more opportunities, but it was not to be and the match ended 3-2 to Cambridge.

Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons 2s 2-3 Lowestoft Ladies 1

Whilst the temperature was barely 1 degree, the pitch was clear and games at the Den never in doubt. Dragons warmly welcomed back Natalie Beal and Laura Ward into the the squad, in this key game against Lowestoft, who were buoyed from a great result the previous week.

Dragons had the better of the early encounters, dominating possession and creating one or two good chances, through Laura Ward, Natalie Beal and Issy Wolfe, but as usual Kate Bond was dominant in the Lowestoft goal. Whilst Dragons had the lions share of possession, Lowestoft always threatened on the break and the defensive unit knew they had to keep focussed. They had to defend a couple of Lowestoft short corners, which Emma Cleland and her defensive unit dealt with well.

With no goals going into the break, the Dragons Coach asked for more of the same, knowing their jobs defensively as a team and knowing their chances would come. Laura Ward set up Hannah Hardy whose early sweep strike was well saved. Then with 10 mins of the 2nd half gone, Dragons earned their first short corner of the game, they knew what their plan was and it was executed to a tee, a strong injection from Issy Wolfe allowed Gail Thomas and Hannah Hardy to combine well to force the ball past Bond for the lead. Dragons knew one goal wouldn’t be enough and continued to push forward, Player of the Match Issy Wolfe was holding her position well and helped create opportunities for the forward line, with both Beal and Ward coming close.

A second short corner for Dragons after 20 mins of the half, was a well drilled routine, with the ball coming out to the 25, which was fired back into the D by Karen O’Neill-Simpson, finding Nat Beal, who had an initial strike which popped up, finding Shelly Seaman in perfect position to deflect the high ball home, to give Dragons a 2-0 lead.

Credit to Lowestoft, who were driven forward by their influential Captain and weren’t about to be beaten any time soon. For 60 mins the home team had dominated, but what transpired over the final 10 minutes was difficult to explain……. Lowestoft pulled one back following a strong drive down their right, pulling the ball across the D to be slotted in at the back post. Minutes later, an attack down the left saw an infringement in the D leading to a short corner, which was powered home by Lowestoft to equalise with just 3 minutes left in the game. Then came the complete sucker punch for Dragons, a short corner conceded with just seconds remaining and the ball forced home to seal all three points for the visitors.

Huge disappointment for the home team having dominated the game, but respect to Lowestoft for never giving up. The team will pick themselves up, dust themselves down and go again, as their performance for the majority of the game deserved better – sport can be cruel, but its how you respond that makes you stronger!

A few snaps here.

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

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 4s 0-1 UEA 2

Ladies 4s lose 4-2 to Magpies 4s. Both goals from birthday girl Catherine Longe who was also awarded Player of the Match.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 5s 3-1 Beccles

Ladies 5s win 3-1 against Beccles in an extremely cold match…Scorers were Captain Lisa Harwood, Fiona Fletcher and Liz McDonnell. PoM was Catherine Matthews who worked tirelessly all game and had some great tackles as well as working the ball up the wing.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 6s 2-1 Norwich City 5

Wow! What a game. Dragons came face to face with a City side on a drive for promotion. Having only lost 1 game, scoring 101 goals and conceding just 11, taking a point, let alone 3 was going to be a challenge.

However, Dragons 6s are a fierce unit always up for a challenge. Team talk? Communicate and have fun!

With the fun of the game in mind, the game started well. With City taking first push back the forward line of Lilly Sore, Anja Wimmer & Jemima Dorman were straight on the offensive – something they did the whole game!

Having got used to dominating games with ease – the city defence pushed high at times having 10 players in our defensive half but they still found it difficult to break down our defence with Kate Atkins, Amy Forse and Hannah Woods standing strong.

It was Dragons that broke first – from a 16 Amy Forse powered the ball through the City forwards with it moving well through the centre of the pitch between debutants Ruby Rose-Turrell (who also secured PoM) & Jess Vernon, making its way to Lilly Sore who passed with precision to a waiting Jemima Dorman on the back post – a fantastically worked team goal.

We knew City would come back at us tougher and harder so we had to keep the work rate up! The midfield diamond of Beth Elgood, Nic Robinson, Beth Coates & Ruby Rose-Turrell rotating with Elsa Scott & Jess Vernon worked tirelessly to support both the attack and defence to keep us in the game. Towards the end of the second half a piece of individual skill led to a city equaliser.

A half-time team talk from our awesome coach Anita Mancini (who did get a PoM nomination for her part in the game) added new found fire to the team. We were 1-1 and definitely not out of it. We started the second half the energy but so did City. With the defence under constant pressure, defending 6 short corners in a row Kate, Amy, Hannah & Ruby along the keeper Alice Smith (who played awesomely) had to dig deep the keep the ball away.

Mid-way through the first half, Lilly Sore found herself on the back line just inside the D to put a cross in – however, to her surprise and amazement this cross and the most difficult of angles went around the keeper and into to far bottom corner of the goal. Giving an elated Dragons side a 2-1 lead.

They now had to keep their heads and defend their well battled lead. Which they did. Every player dug deep and found that extra 10%. We worked as a unit, supporting eat other all the way up the pitch. We have been unfortunate this season with some of the results that we have recorded but today’s result was a fantastic reward for the effort and determination showed by the super sixes!

Proud to be a dragon!!!!

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

The two Dragons teams had a fine tussle, with some very good hockey being played, and it was the 7s who made their class tell and continued their excellent run of form with a smooth win. During the first quarter, it was the 8s who had the best of the play, camping out at the edge of their attacking circle without quite managing to get the incisive pass into the D that would have given them a shooting chance. This was to prove to be one of the telling patterns in the game.

Both teams had been required to give up players to higher teams; this (and availability) left the 7s without any forwards, while the 8s had the opportunity to give yet another three players their debut in league hockey. Up stepped Nic Harrison, who the 8s have been wanting to play for some time. Strong, fit and determined, Nic made an excellent top of the diamond and looked comfortable throughout the game. She was joined by Laura McNally and Kim Brenchley, young players who gave a good account of themselves in midfield.

The 7s called on Gemma Ballard from the 8s, who showed just what she is capable of when she gets a decent supply of ball. She scored FOUR GOALS from every part of the circle as the 7s attacking midfielders split the defence at regular intervals. Gemma always made herself available and was the 7s POM. Floss Andrews and Alice Bishop also made good use of the space, and each scored twice. The 7s put into the attacking game everything the two squads had been practising in training and it paid off handsomely.

The 7s have a fine midfield force, with Esme McKinnon-Evans and Maisie Dearmer burning the turf; Stevie Spencer was tough and reliable going forward or back; Captain Claire Fairhurst has added some very neat moves to her repertoire and drives her team forward whilst shutting any gaps at the back; Tracey Stuart-Sheppard played a strong blocking and tackling role; whilst Sophie Drew up from the 8s made some strong linking runs and fitted in well.

Those six players formed a very strong core for the 7s. The 8s, with their new players, and less experienced players, gradually lost ground and shape as they fought a desperate rearguard battle to keep the 7s out. Captain Jo Baker was a stalwart in the centre of defence, with Jess Lockwood and Johanne Steward either side and Ruth Barton rotating with an equal role. These four courageously blocked and tackled extremely well. Ali Pellegrini was back in goal (thank goodness) and had a very good game. Contrasting with the 7s, the 8s are still working on their free hits and are a little short of power, but not of grit.

The 7s defence managed to make everything they did look just that little bit easier, and Emily Roper in goal had very little to do. Frankie Paul, with her magnificent hit, has a very good understanding with Emma North and these two coolly played the 7s out of trouble. Katy Saide, who never appears hurried, demonstrated that happy knack of being in the right place at the right time.

Despite conceding a goal at regular intervals, the 8s never dropped their heads. If anyone demonstrated their ‘never say die’ attitude it was Louise Bondy Bond at the bottom of the diamond. Talk about leaving it all on the pitch! Tackling at top speed and distributing the ball well she somehow managed to survive skinning her right thigh and right knee and for her all-action display she was their POM. Not far behind was Louise Brooksy Brooks, who was fully committed in a number of roles and showed plenty of skill. Brooksy took it for the team as their ‘go to’ player – ‘go to here, go to there’, and hopefully in another week she will be able to settle into just one or two positions.

Lois Metcalfe and Bridget Le Good were tested when the 8s went to 4-4-2. It was the first time the 8s have tried this formation and it has potential for them, especially if they get some of their runners playing again to complement Shaniece Claxton. It could help them to get the ball up the pitch quicker. Lois held the ball up well and Bridget showed strength when she went back into defence. So Captain Jo said she was well pleased with her team, who all played with great determination again and kept on working hard, even while they could admire the 7s purring like a well-oiled machine. Jo said it was the best all-round performance by the 8s for several games. Both teams were very grateful to Mike and Hannah Hardy, who turned out early to each manage a team. Their encouragement, handling of the subs and shrewd advice made a significant contribution to a very enjoyable match.

A few snaps here.

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

See 7s report above

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 6-2 Cambridge City 4

Dragons Men’s 1s returned to winning ways against Cambridge City in a comprehensive performance, in a perfect mix of youth and experience.

Dragons started convincingly maintaining much of the possession and creating a few creative chances.  The pressure on Cambridge eventually proved too much when Man of the Match Sam Avery deflected a well worked short corner to give Dragons the lead. Not to be outdone Cambridge soon brought the scores level after some good work in midfield.

Keen to get themselves back to winning ways and keeping in touch with top of the leave Sudbury, Dragons saw the opportunity to take the game away from the visitors extending the lead to 4-1 at half time thanks to another Sam Avery deflection from a Matt Knights cross, a trademark strike from promising forward Ben Watson and a clever finish from Mitch Smith after deliberations from the dubious goals panel.

In the second half, the game became increasingly stretched with Cambridge tiring and Dragons looking to improve their goal difference whilst securing the three points.  Another drag flick from veteran forward Rupert Snelling extended the lead to 5-1 before Cambridge got a goal back after some hard work from the visitors.

A strong team performance highlighted by the promising performances of youngsters Laming, Stone, Watson and Kaushal was sealed when midfield maestro Henry Laming finished cleverly from a shot/cross by Watson.

MOTM: Sam Avery.

Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 3-1 Bury St Edmunds 2

With five of the thirteen-man squad 16 years old or younger, speed and skill were never going to be lacked, so captain Jason Wolfe’s team talk focused on moving the ball quickly and working hard as a team. 

From the first minute, Dragons kept hold of the ball in all areas of the pitch and the ball was moved seamlessly from defence to the midfield and forwards and vice versa. With Bury camped in their own half, chances started to flow for the visitors. An early opportunity for Lewis Wilkins was cleared off the line (by a Dragons player…) and Charlie Nunn had a few reverse stick efforts saved from the Keeper. Superb play from Alex Browne led to the first short corner, which Raunaq Rai dragged into the net of the Bury goal, giving the keeper no chance. Shortly after, Dragons doubled their lead as an Alex Browne shot was deflected in off the post by Charlie Nunn. Chances kept coming for Dragons, but were unfortunately unable to capitalise on any of these. Dragons went into half time after dominating the first 35 minutes two goals to the good.

Despite having the lion’s share of possession and chances, Jason urged caution during the interval, knowing a 2-0 lead can still be dangerous and eventually Bury would have at least a couple of chances.

An uncharacteristic nervy five minutes followed for Dragons as an early short corner was conceded, Bury’s first of the game, which was cooly deflected in after a quick, decisive routine. The defence of Dragons held out a couple of nervy attacks and a few last-ditch tackles meant Bury were unable to draw level.  Dragons settled back into the game, holding onto the ball in key areas and began to stretch Bury again. A trademark Browne short corner rifled into the backboard before the keeper even had a chance to move put Dragons 3-1 to the good. Again, chances flowed for the away side, but were unable to stretch their lead to any more than 2 goals.

At the full-time whistle, Dragons could look back at a game they deserved to win after virtually dominating the entire game. Bury couldn’t simply keep up with the pace and skill of a youthful midfield (and Simmo), whilst the defence held out against any attacks and distributed the ball well whilst the forwards created chance after chance.

An even spread of man of the match votes (8 players receiving a vote) demonstrates what a cracking team performance it was. The winner, however, for the second week running was the modest George Bowman, who had big shoes to fill in defensive midfield due to Richard Gill’s absence, and his work rate, tackling and distribution acted as a powerful base for Dragons’ authority in this game.

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

Dragons 3’s looked to continue their excellent run of form which sees them currently sitting 2nd in Div 3. However they knew this would be a tough game as they were playing 3rd place Felixstowe to whom they narrowly lost to earlier in the season.

Dragons knew they had to start well and keep hold of the ball. Once settled they started to play their regular passing hockey, working the ball and creating g chances both wide and through the channels. Rob Goodson and Lloyd Sayer controlled the midfield well and linked up with the forwards. John Ives, Jon Goodson and Ali Smyth drove the ball down the flanks and crated number of chances for the forwards. Matt Jenkins, Tom Vaughan and Aaron Curtis were all attacking the D and putting pressure on the Felixstowe defence, so it was no surprise when Tom Vaughan scored to keep himself well on track as a golden stick contender. Not much was getting through dragons defence; Joel Dennis, Adam Sayer, Stu Kelly and Jim Goodson controlled the game and distributed the ball well while keeper Dim Ives made some great saves. Max Laming also added extra legs to the midfield attack. Not long after Aaron Curtis slotted home another reverse stick strike to make it 2-0 to Dragons at half time.

The 2nd half was much the same with Felixstowe only really using their long ball up the pitch. However they did manage on one of these long ball attacks to convert to make the score 1-0. Dragons looked in control for most of the game but in the last minute Felixstowe won a short corner which they converted to end the game 2-2. Dragons were disappointed but still happy with a point sees them hold their current position in the league.

Men’s East League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 1-2 Ipswich Cranes 1

Men’s 4s disappointed to lose 2-1 to Ipswich Cranes 1s after taking an early lead through Nick Turner. MOM Ben Nkrumah who made some fine saves in goal.

Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 2-0 Norwich City 7

Men’s 5s win 2-0 against Norwich City 7s! Goals from Jordan Hambling and Josh Wiggins on his debut for the Adult Teams this weekend. MOM: James Hansell.

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 5-0 Watton 2

There was some doubt whether this match would be played following the weather reports of snow widely broadcast in the media, but following an 8.15am pitch inspection it was decided that conditions were good enough to play, with a 10.00am push back scheduled. 

Dragons 6 had a few last minute withdrawals due to injury and illness, so lined up against Watton 2 with a basic eleven man team and no substitutes. Dragons and Watton had already met twice this season, once in the league and a friendly just before Xmas, so were beginning to learn each other tactics and style of play. Because of this, the game could have become extremely tight to call, but as events were to prove, you can never predict the outcome of a game in League 7NE.

The match started with Watton taking most of the possession and using their strength up front to play the ball into the Dragons end of the pitch. The reshuffled back four of John Butler, Shiv Kapur, Chris Orme and Graham Muff were in control though and stifled the attacking runs of the Watton forwards. James King was ever alert in goal to any danger and as Dragons settled in to the game, it became evident that our best approach was to use the width of the pitch and the speed of our two young wingers Sam Nutt and Harrison Richards to outpace the Watton defence to the back touchline and feed into the circle. This proved the right way to play as a number of occasions presented for Dragons to score. The outcome of this pressure resulted in Harrison Richards taking the opportunity of opening the score sheet for Dragons with some fine ball control in the circle and neat finish.

The work rate continued at a high pace from Dragons and some solid play from Darryl Robinson and Owain Hall allowed Andy Keys a number of chances in and around the Watton goal. It wasn’t all plain sailing though and Watton won a succession of penalty corners which put the Dragons defence under pressure, but they always looked individually, and collectively, in control. The half time whistle was blown with Dragons 6 ahead by 1 – 0.

The minutes following the restart were to really shape the outcome of the game. Watton took the push back but with almost the first attack of the half, Andy Keys ran the ball through to the Watton back line and dragged it back into the middle where Harrison Richards picked the ball up and launched a fantastic backhand shot into the top corner of the Watton goal. It was an eye catching strike and from this point the Dragons confidence grew quickly. This could have all come to a grinding halt when a few minutes later Joel Lawrence had to leave the pitch with strained back muscles. This brought Dragons down to 10 men, having no substitute available, and gave Watton a boost as shown by their renewed effort attacking the Dragons goal. Once again a series of penalty corners were awarded, but the Dragons back four soaked up the pressure and ably assisted by the efforts of the midfield to push the ball up and wide to the edges of the pitch, were able to turn the game back in the Dragons favour, this time for good.

Andy Keys, now playing as the sole forward had been threatening to score all match long and now with assistance once again from Sam Nutt, Harrison Richards, Darryl Robinson and Owain Hall, took the opportunity to play a classic forwards game and score twice in ten minutes to bring the tally to Dragons 4 – 0 Watton. Throughout the match Shiv Kapur, now playing in his preferred position of right back, had been covering tremendous ground on the right side of the pitch both running the ball forward and deep into Watton’s half, as well as always returning to keep the Dragons defensive line solid. This effort was the catalyst for the Dragons fifth and final goal, when another of Kapur’s penetrating runs, ended with the ball being played through to Darryl Robinson, who scored to seal the game for the Dragons 6 team.

At the final whistle it was:            Norwich Dragons              5 – 0        Watton

As your scribe has mentioned in the match reports of the previous three league games, a result like this was waiting to happen and this week all the ingredients came together at the right time to produce some fantastic individual, and overall team, performance. The whole team played with great composure and maturity which brought us the outcome that was richly deserved. The fact that we scored four goals with only ten men, against a full strength Watton 2 team just goes to underline how much effort was put in by everyone this week to secure this victory.

It was difficult to single out one player due to the combined high level of effort shown by all the players, but the team voted Shiv Kapur as a well-deserved man of the match. This scribe also looks forward to some more of Harrison Richard’s #backhandscreamers…

A few snaps here.

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons A: No Fixture

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons B: No Fixture

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 2-3 Norwich City

Today we played a close match against Norwich City, but sadly lost 2-3. The goal scorers had some hard competition against the goalie but Sophie Barrow and Niamh Somers managed to score.

Norwich City used the width of the pitch which made it difficult for us, their players managed to find space which then lead onto some great passing. 

The ball went from end to end but we had some great defence from Bethan Greaves, Emily Smith, Stella Windsor Waite and all the others in the defensive unit. I think a special mention is deserved for Jemima Watson and goalie Mia Somers who normally play for U12, but did a really good job today. Jemima Watson did some brilliant stick skills and managed to break away from the defender to make a pass to a free player. Mia Somers managed to clear some balls, even though 3 went past her she did extremely well.

Emma gave us good advise in the breaks and we managed to apply it during the next quarter. Player of the match was awarded to Amy Beadman for her great defending and passing skills, she played at the bottom of the diamond.

It was extremely cold and thankfully the pizza warmed us up. Thank you Tracy for the ‘brilliant’ chocolate cake.

Well played girls!

By Emily Grint