NDHC League Match Reports: 11/03/2017

Women’s East Hockey League Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 1s 4-4 Bromley & Beckenham 1

Having put 8 goals past Brom & Becks in the first half of the season, the Dragons were confident of a win back at the Den.

The dragons have recently changed formation with the aim of playing a more attacking brand of hockey and at times this formation allowed them to play fast, positive hockey. There is still work to be done however, to ensure that they are not caught on the break. Unfortunately for the Dragons this weekend, as with last, as soon as they scored, the opposition returned to equalise.

The teams seemed very evenly matched throughout the first half but some excellent attacking play from Stacey Lee led to a penalty corner for the Dragons. The initial strike fell to Sophie Mullan, who converted it and put the Dragons 1-0 ahead. Quickly though, the opposition equalised. The Dragons regrouped and some excellent attacking play down the left found Hannah Phillips at the top of the D. The keeper was expecting a cross and Phillips cunningly fired it in to the goal to put the Dragons 2-1 ahead. Despite solid defending from Jenkins, Reding, Murray and Cleeve, the opposition found the back of the net just before half time.

After some stern words at half time from Coach Thomas, the Dragons knew they had to keep possession and eradicate the unforced errors. Sophie Mullan, who went on to win Player of the Match, was dominant in midfield and she combined excellently with Marie James and Olivia Thomas to give the Norwich women the edge. Shortly after half time, the Dragons won another penalty corner and this time, Phillips powered it in to the back of the goal from the top of the D. 3-2 Dragons. Yet again though, Dragons lost possession in the middle of the pitch and were punished by the clinical finishing of the visitors.

Aoife Lowe-Davies who is storming the second half of the season found herself in some space and charged towards the goal. Some individual skill and a clever finish took the Dragons 4-3 up with 10 minutes to go. Sadly, however, the Dragons could not hold on to the narrow lead and with the final play of the game, the jubilant visitors equalised leaving the game tied at 4-4.

The Dragons have much to learn from this game. They will hope to build on their performance in the forthcoming weeks.

Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons 2s 3-3 City of Peterborough 1

Dragons made the long trip west, with some making a lengthy diversion, but still arriving at Bretton Gate in good time. With some unavailability in the squad, Dragons welcomed back U16 Lara Taylor to the squad and gave deserved 2nd team debuts to U18 Charlotte Pounder and U16 Esme Potter, both of whom had been impressing in the 3’s and 4’s over recent weeks. Some would be forgiven for thinking Dragons would be fortunate to take anything away from this fixture, with City of Peterborough all but promoted into East Premier (a win would have secured their promotion), but Dragons have shown some steel in recent weeks and weren’t about to be defeated easily. The team were also ever grateful to Keeper Emma Cleland for travelling with team, despite originally being unavailable, but changing her plans to be there.
In the early minutes, Peterborough looked the stronger team, however Dragons settled and started to find their game, pressing the Peterborough back line at every opportunity. Laura Ward and Charlotte Pounder were putting pressure on the defensive line and managed to win the ball on a couple of occasions, earning Dragons what turned out to be their only short corner of the game after 14 mins. Issy Wolfe injected to Donna Vaughan who calmly stepped past the defensive runner and fired into the corner for an early lead.
The home team were unsettled; to their credit Dragons were hunting in packs and winning the ball in midfield, through the extremely hard working Shelly Seaman and her fellow midfielders Gail Thomas, Issy Wolfe, Karen O’Neill Simpson and Lara Taylor, who were snapping in on the tackles and generally winning the battles in the centre of the pitch.
Dragons continued to pressure the Peterborough defence and Laura Ward, showed her pace and tenacity, by winning the ball from the central defender and taking an early shot at the keeper, the initial effort was saved, but Ward calmly picked up the rebound and rounded the keeper for a 2-0 scoreline at half time. This was a lead the visitors deserved going into the break.
Peterborough were always going to come out strong and to their credit they did exactly that, their dangerous forward picking the ball up on the right and firing a strong right to left effort neatly into the corner, with just 1 minute of the half gone. Dragons knew they were going to be in for a tough half, but with Rowie York-Smith and Donna Vaughan in commanding form in the middle, supported excellently by Sophie Thomas and Esme Potter, the defence was looking strong, however Emma Cleland in the Dragons goal, still knew she needed to be alert, and alert she was, making some fine stops, especially from the many short corners that Peterborough were awarded.
Whilst the home team pushed forward, Dragons always threatened on the break, with the speedy quartet of Ward, Pounder, Wolfe and Taylor getting in behind the Peterborough defence and always creating opportunities. It was from one such break with 12 minutes of the half gone, where the busy Shelly Seaman found Laura Ward deep in the D, her trickery and movement evaded the defenders and keeper to score another goal, (her 5th in 2 games), making the score 3-1.
Peterborough’s coaches pushed the team forward and Dragons were made to pay for a series of sloppy passes on 18 minutes of the half, allowing Peterborough to drive into the D and fire the ball across, which took an unfortunate deflection off a Dragons stick, just evading the keeper. A number of short corners continued to be awarded, however the defence snuffed out the danger well, with Keeper and PoM Emma Cleland making some strong saves. Unfortunately however on 26 minutes, another short corner was deflected off a defender’s stick high, over Cleland in for the equaliser.
Dragons saw out the remainder of the game, despite further home short corners, a fine final save from Cleland sealing the point.
Having been described as the ‘lowly’ Dragons by Peterborough ahead of the last fixture, after which Peterborough were relieved to grab a 2-1 win, Peterborough’s twitter feed this time round, said that Dragons were ‘surprisingly strong’ this week, which is a credit to the squad members that have battled all season and this week’s debutants.
Dragons were all disappointed to not be taking the 3 points home, given the team had worked extremely hard, with the new players to the team slotting in seamlessly and throughly enjoyed their first ever experience of East League Hockey. It’s not over ’til its over, and this team will continue to give their all in the final 2 games.  When Peterborough gain the point they need for promotion, Dragons Ladies 1s will look forward to welcoming them to the Den next season.
Peterborough’s published report on the match here.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 3s 0-0 Evergreens 1

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

On a sunny Saturday morning the Ladies 4XI travelled to Langley to play Carrow 1XI in what was arguably the most important game of the season. We had, as ever an inspirational talk on the side-line which saw the girls put their game faces on. We started strong from the off-set and took possession straight away. Harriet Green was playing it down the right, linking well with Clare Moylan and Lucy Morton. We were on the attack from the off-set. The Pressure from Sue Cross, Megan Williams and Catherine Longe were bringing saw the first goal go from Helen Marsh hit the backboard  after 10 minutes of play. We remained calm and maintained possession through the half, having many short corners that we just couldn’t finish. The second goal finally came with a smash from Catherine Longe into the bottom corner. Helen Marsh, Harriet Green and Mel Widdows held the midfield and we scored our third just before the final whistle by Catherine Longe. After a calm team-talk by Sarah Wagstaff and some celebration from Megan Williams, we didn’t get complacent and started as if the score was 0-0. You could tell we were tired and the second half started with a number of attacks from Carrow. With Sarah Wagstaff, Kath Mares and Lou Davis at the back staying strong and Alice Smith making a number of saves we managed to start the attack again.  The fourth goal game from Harriet Green where she nut-megged the keeper to make the score 4-0 to dragons. Lucy Morton and Megan Williams kept attacking but unfortunately we couldn’t finish it. Dragons win 4-0 

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

On our home game the 5’s had drawn against Reepham, a robust team so we had to give it our best.  From the beginning of the game, we looked like we were just warming up until Reepham scored their first goal then it was time to wake up – and we did!!!! Lisa Harwood worked hard to drive the 5’s onwards and upwards to a win, no one wanted it more than her! The determination from our fabulous skillfull defence Jemima Williams, Katie Franks, and Ginny Simkin kept their attackers at bay and had them sussed and worked tirelessly fighting to keep the ball out of the ‘D’! The first goal came from Vicki Earley from a short corner rebounding off the keeper, then the goals came! Lucy Buxton used her amazing skills back flipping a goal in the far corner of the goal, after scoring a fab goal before that making it 3-1 in the first half.

That didn’t stop the 5’s with our amazing team work and camaraderie! We went on to score 3 more goals – 1 from Amy Forse’s amazing strikes into goal, Lynne Price (Neeps) technically calculating and precision guiding it into the goal, and Aditi Naik was well positioned to push the ball into the goal from a cross. Fiona Fletcher held her position on the pitch with great ball skills and strength on the ball, Catherine Matthews stepped up to take on a robust Reepham player with guts and confidence only just missing out but tracking back to defend and win the ball.  Rachel Mattthews was fab at taking the ball along the left and no one could touch her eventually passing it down the line for the attackers to move onto, Kerenza Moffatt was tricky to remove the ball from with her super slick skills.  The team talk at the beginning gave us the motivation we needed, followed by Neeps team coaching to guide us!  Luisa Valentini, our Keeper and POM, was phenomenal, she guided the force at the back giving us the confidence and strength to keep going as well as keep herself going with her brilliant keeper skills – well down 5’s – unstoppable!


Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 6s 3-2 Evergreens 2

So, the first challenge for a couple of Dragons was to locate the pitch.  That done Dragons got off to a pretty good start but before we could settle properly Evergreens smoothly down the middle scored a goal which sadly Dragons just watched.  Some knuckling down was needed but before Dragons really did that Evergreens scored again with a great strike.  Obviously some changes were needed and it was easy to identify where we were going wrong but not so easy to fix it.  Luckily we had Amy managing the sideline today and she put her mind quickly onto the task.  She made changes in the first half mostly to our midfield to counteract what Evergreens were doing to us  mostly by way of their star player at number 32.

Dragons dogged determinedness and Amy’s strategy turned the game.  Our first goal came from Jemima after some great play between her and Lily in the circle.  Belief and our signature short pass game came back and at half time being behind didn’t  affect the positivity running through the team.  Second half strategy Beth E sacrificed her usual distribution game to mark out Evergreens influential player and Amy moved our midfield around to support back and front.  Dragons settled quickly in the second half to our usual comfortable team passing game and the second goal came from Lizzie with a great strike through the goalie.  Some lovely play all round but particularly from Jemima up front, Hannah Woods dominating our defence working hard with Cat and Beth E (POM) absolutely in control of  that influential Evergreens player.  The winning goal  from Beth Coates was unsurprising.  Her first stint up front she settled in position well resulting in a screaming goal – literally!

Mentioned a few names here but as usual Dragons 6s did it together.  Some interaction with the Umpire (or is it ref!) caused some smiles  to add to what was really an enjoyable game against a side who made Dragons work very hard for another win.

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

Dragons 7s knew they were going to have a tough match against top of the league Broadland 3s, and they were proved right.

Broadland won the toss, taking the first push back and were on the attack right from the start. Dragons defence of Frankie Paul, Emma North and Katy Saide had their work cut out aiding keeper Emily Roper from keeping the ball away from goal. Unfortunately Broadland’s skilful play and strong hits meant they took the lead early on. The rotating midfield of Claire Fairhurst, Floss Andrews, Alice Bishop, Maisie Dearmer, Stevie Spencer and Esme McKinnon-Evans all worked tirelessly to stop Broadland as much as they could. Dragons remembered their passing play, using the wings and calling for the ball, aiding each other to get to the waiting forwards. Kelly Mills, Katie Moulson, Elsa Scott and Claire Stuart were always ready and waiting to receive the ball, driving into the D. Dragons had many attempts at goal but Broadland were always there to stop the ball and getting it up the pitch to score themselves. At half time Broadland had managed to get to 5:0.

Everyone shared their views during the half time team talk as to where Dragons were going wrong and how to try and turn the game to their advantage. The talk must have worked as Dragons went into the second half with determination, and they definitely played better. Dragons managed to hold play in Broadlands half, keen to get a goal. Time and again Broadlands held them back. Broadlands scored once more in the second half, bringing the final result to 6:0.

Dragons were slightly disappointed with the result, but knew that Broadland would be hard to beat. Well played by all, onwards and upwards for the last two matches!

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

In a close-fought match, Dragons were left to ponder the fact that sometimes the margins between winning and losing can be very narrow indeed. The two teams were evenly matched, with plenty of good hockey, accurate passing and determined  running. Not very many clear-cut chances were made at either end – the Magpies took two of theirs, whereas the Dragons had a couple of narrow misses.

The 8s began with high hopes. They had possibly their strongest squad available, minus just two. Jo Baker was in charge of the defence as usual and could rotate with Jess Lockwood, Anna Chapman and Johanne Steward. They kept Louise Bondy Bond and Bridget Le Good as their double diamonds at the back, and this is starting to work well when a strong defence is needed. The 8s were spicy in midfield, with Louise Brooksy Brooks combining with Tracy Stewart-Sheppard and Helen Walker rotating in. Sophie Drew was back to add some speed to the right mid/right forward position. Katy Cole, Gem Ballard and Laura McInally were the hard-working roving rotating forwards.

Dragons started a little quietly and a little tentatively, but still had the better of the early exchanges They had a lovely penalty corner chance. Laura, trying injection for the first time, sent the ball firmly to Bridget who trapped it cleanly and slipped the ball left to Gem. Her sharp shot was inches the wrong side of the near post, and Laura, following up, was just shielded out by two Magpies. If only the Dragons could have got a few more penalty corners, they could have influenced the outcome – but it was not to be. Brooksy and Gem, Tracy, Sophie and Katy had good combinations going but two very experienced Magpie defenders were cutting out the final ball into the D.

The one, just the one, through ball, gave Emily Roper no chance, but she showed excellent judgement in leaving some of the long passes to roll harmlessly away. In the second half, Magpies scored from a penalty corner, and it was Dragons’ turn to miss when a lovely cross from the left went zinging across the circle.

The 8s analysed the game, frustrated that all their efforts in training  are not getting a reward. Magpies are currently running into a solid vein of form, but they were beatable. Every Dragons player was working hard, none more than Bondy (POM) who covered the ground and put in some terrific tackles when they were needed most. Possibly the 8s are trying so hard for the win that they lose their shape. The forwards are not receiving the ball, so they tended to creep back to get it. The defence, meanwhile, are drifting up to press the opposition, maybe a little high – but at the end of the day, they did enough to get back, and Ropes was there to stand tall and clear hard.

Into the second half, and some Dragons found the pace a bit hot. As tiredness crept in, and footwork deteriorated, attempts to stop the ball on the reverse inevitably ended in turnover to the Magpies, and our re-setting got slower and slower. However, this did not end in disaster, because the 8s were still playing well in patches. The pressing was very strong. The hitouts and free hits have improved immeasurably. Brooksy, Bondy, Gem and Sophie were full of running and creating good positions. Where Dragons were losing out was just not quite managing to get more ball to Laura and Katy, who ran like crazies and never gave up.

Many thanks to Lily for running the subs and encouraging us all the way through. 8s have been practising a drill on Wednesdays that is developing their skill in weighting a variety of passes, controlling the firmer ball and keeping the move going instead of needing to check. Just a bit more of that and we will have cracked it. We also need some more practice at working the ball into the circle – passing back, rolling round and changing direction, all the moves we have been doing in training. One more all-in session on Wednesday and we will be ready for Carrow, Really, really ready for Carrow.

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 1-5 Sudbury 1

Dragons lost their crunch fixture away in Sudbury in disappointing fashion as a string of fast break goals took the game from them. Richard Gill scored for the away side from a corner rebound but Sudbury now retake the top spot and can secure the league with their game in hand. Dragon’s man of the man went to goalkeeper Peter Dickerson who made a number of fine saves and played the second half in extreme discomfort after taking a hit on the elbow from an opposition stick.

Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 11-1 Sudbury 2

The Norwich Dragons’ Men’s 2nd team had a very strong team on paper for this division 3NE fixture, and so it proved on the pitch as well.

The tone was set in the opening few minutes, with Henry Laming carving open the visitors’ defence with pace and skill, and combined with the deft hands of Alex Stone, the team created a number of chances. In fact the home side could easily have been 3 goals up inside the first 10 minutes.

The deadlock was finally broken after a delightful run from Stone was slotted past the keeper and crossed the line despite the despairing efforts of a Sudbury defender. This seemed to spark Henry Laming, and his brother Max, and several penetrating runs yielded a goal for the senior Laming (Henry). Two further simple, well-worked goals from Rohan Kaushal, including a nice strike from the top of the circle, gave the home side a 4-0 lead at half-time, although having hit the crossbar and post twice it could easily have been more.

Complacency was the biggest risk to the Dragons, and it was pleasing to see the team go further ahead within 40 seconds of the restart (Chris Simmonds). It was at this point that Sudbury hit back with a long ball counter attack that found a forward in enough space to wrong-foot Giles Brooks in goal and pull one back. This encouraged Dragons to tighten up a bit, and a relatively quite 10 minute period was suddenly followed by a flurry of goals right up to the final whistle. Kaushal ended with 4, Henry Laming & Simmonds with 2 each, and one for each of Max Laming, Oli Browne & Alex Stone.

Men’s East Hockey League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 2-0 Dragons 4

A much anticipated game and one that the Men’s 3s knew they needed 3 points from to keep them pushing for promotion and the Championship.

It was the Men’s 4s who started the brighter, pushing high and putting the 3s under pressure.  Towards the end of the first half, the 3s started to pass the ball confidently and this opened the game up.  Slick passing culminated in a goal for Matt JENKINS to take the 3s 1-0 up going into half time.

The second half saw the 3s continue to pass the ball well and they managed to cut out balls hit through the middle to keep up their attack.  Short corners didn’t result in any additional goals, though Matt JENKINS bagged another goal mid second half.  Man of Match Rob GOODSON earned his plaudit by being a stalwart in the middle.

With Felixstowe losing, and the 3 points gained from this encounter, the 3s gain promotion.  Next week is a crunch game against league leaders UEA, which may decide who finishes Champions.

Men’s East League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 0-2 Dragons 3

Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 3-0 Sudbury 4

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s: No Fixture 

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons A 0-0 Magpies

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons B: No Fixture

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons: No Fixture