Norwich city centre hockey club, fun, friendly and competitive

NDHC League Match Reports: 13/02/2016

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Women’s East Hockey League Prem
Norwich Dragons 1s 4-2 Broxboune 1

Dragons were determined to bounce back from two consecutive defeats against a team fighting for their Premier League status.

It was Dragons who started brightly, moving the ball well and when they won an early short corner they took the lead through Stacey Lee after good work from Emma Tabrett.  This gave the Dragons some confidence and their second goal quickly followed. A delightful move starting with left back Holly Reding, involving Olivia Thomas, Aoife Lowe-Davies and Hayley Toleman was calmly finished by Marie James. Dragons continued to push forward and were denied by some excellent saves from the Broxbourne keeper. Just before the half time whistle, Dragons switched off momentarily and were punished by the Broxbourne attack. This was a wakeup call for Dragons who knew in the second half they needed to retain their focus and keep up their passing game.

The home side didn’t disappoint their growing home crowd (including some who had travelled from Northern Ireland) and were soon on the score sheet again. This time youngster Aoife Lowe Davies was on hand to drill the ball home at the back post after another fine passing move.  Dragons were able to create further chances but were once again thwarted by the travelling goal keeper or some slightly way ward passing with the final ball. Player of the match, Stacey Lee was able to add to hers and the team’s tally when she was put through one on one. She was able to move the ball around the GK and push the ball home to score her 6th goal in four games. Credit to the Broxbourne who manged to score a second, but the result was never really in doubt.

Dragons, although extremely pleased with the result felt that they still weren’t playing to their full potential. Such high standards they have set this season means they have already reached last season’s points tally with four matches remaining. They will look forward to pushing on in the final games of the season, starting away at Old Loughtonians on Feb 27th.

Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons 2s 1-4 Lindum 1

An early start for Dragons to head up the A17 for the long away trip to Lincoln. Availability issues across the Club and injury to Gail Thomas, meant Dragons travelled with just 12 but were able to give a fully deserved 2nd Team debut for 13 year old Lara Taylor. Good time was made on the journey by the travelling team, so a refreshment break at Sleaford Services was the order of the day.

It was unfortunate, however, that the team seem to have ‘mentally’ stayed in Sleaford for the first 5 minutes of the game, as they found themselves 3 goals down with just 5 minutes on the clock. The initial goal was from open play, Ally Windsor-Waite having miraculously taken an initial shot off the line, before the rebound was followed up by a more alert Lindum forward. The next two goals were clinical short corner strikes.

Dragons tried to regain some composure, with the game effectively taken out of their hands before they had got themselves settled on the bouncy pitch. One Dragons attack down the right, saw Hannah Hardy get round the back of the defender and square to Laura Shreeve, whose goal bound effort was parried by a defender. Shelly Seaman got on the end of the rising rebound but couldn’t quite force the ball home. Dragons settled the ship for around 15 minutes but their passing and possession of the ball was generally poor by their normal standards. Before half time, Lindum made it four to seal their domination of the half.

Dragons Captain Karen O’Neill Simpson called for the team not to dwell on the first half……to a person, the team knew it simply wasn’t good enough. The call was for a bit more pride and to show what they were made of. Dragon’s heeded these strong words and from the off they were the better team. Shelly Seaman battled hard on the left to snuff out any Lindum attacks, Pip Howes was competing well in the middle, whilst Lara Taylor on the right was growing into the game, tackling strongly and initiating opportunities, linking up well with Marcy Windsor-Waite.

Laura Shreeve was full of running as always and was beginning to link up well with Lauren Lawrie, who was making intelligent runs. At this stage, the game was being played much more in Lindum’s half, however Dragons couldn’t turn this pressure into clear cut chances. Eventually Dragons earned a couple of short corners, the second of which saw them execute a routine they had practised in training, work to perfection, with Dragons Player of the Match Marcy Windsor-Waite deflecting the ball high into the net – her second goal in two games.

The final whistle went – a small amount of pride restored, with Dragons having competed as they know they can in the 2nd half. With a weeks break to help heal some niggling injuries, Dragons can regroup, work hard in training and look forward to the final four game of the season, knowing that if they perform as they did in the 2nd half, they will achieve their goals.

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

Returning to the Den for the rearranged game following the earlier frozen pitch postponement both Dragons and Magpies were ready for a tough match. With many of their usual players unavailable for the game the 3s welcomed Charlotte Pounder, Kate McKenna and PoM Claire Canning from the 4s. All of them played extremely well, fitting into the team as if they had always been part of it.

From the offset both sides locked horns and battled back and forth for possession. Debs Smith and Natasha Falzon held the centre well, with the fast legs of Sam Franklin picking up stray balls out wide and driving along the side line. Any through balls were neatly returned by the Dragon defenders Carmel Windsor-Waite, Sarah Wagstaff, Hazel Sumner and Issy Wolfe.

Chances came several times for both sides, sadly a deflection from a defender’s stick sent the Magpies shot in a different direction to the anticipated trajectory of keeper Kristina Smyth, giving Magpies the lead.

Dragons fought back hard, forwards Kate McKenna, Caroline Wolfe, Laura Goodbun and Natasha Blyth trying to capitalise on every opportunity, sadly each was rebuffed by the Magpies. Undeterred every player on the pitch gave it their all and fought till the very end, with the final shot of the game from Sumner glancing off of the cross bar narrowly denying dragons the much needed point. Spectacular diving saves from keeper Kristina Smyth kept Dragons in the game, but sadly although continuing to gain momentum they ran out of time to get the equaliser.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 4s: Slip Date

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 5s 4-0 Magpies 6

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 6s 2-0 Evergreens 2

6s know they have got to battle all the way to the end of the season, and it was a very determined squad of 13 who set off early to Greshams to get the job done  13 going away on the 13th – what could possibly go wrong? Actually, not much did go wrong, with the team having a Plan and being able to stick to it. Once again the 7s (no game) came to the rescue providing Beth Coates, who worked hard at right mid; Kat Speirs taking up good positions up front and going close, and Arabella Sabberton (POM) who had an excellent all-round game. She mopped up all the balls that came her way in defence; was strong enough to charge up the pitch and make several telling passes to get the forwards away; and she was so unlucky when a great shot from a pen corner was ruled out.

The defenders set their press high up with pitch, with Alice McNeile, Ginny Simkin and Katy Saide all showing great composure in cutting out the Evergreens’ forays and alongside Ara once again making good use of the rotation. In this game, Jo Eke was able to step up and play in attack, and with Gilly Walker making a twin centre mid pairing, the midfield of Jo, Gill, Beth Coates and Jess Vernon looked very strong indeed.

The forwards too were revelling in the unfamiliar amount of space. Jess, Rosie Skipp and Sarah Norman were all running hard in the wide positions and taking it in turns to take a shot in the circle or push the ball to Kat. Both goals were a reward for Sarah’s persistence. The first came from a pass from Bridget to Gill who almost got the ball past the onrushing keeper, for Sarah to continue her move and get the ball over the line. The second was similar, with Bridget’s pass finding Kat who nearly beat the keeper  and for Sarah to follow up and sweep the ball home.

It was nice to have a ‘proper’ goalie between the sticks, even if Laura ‘Tucky’ Tuck had nothing more adventurous to do than pick the ball up from the baseline. Laura, who looked very confident in the warm up, was on her toes throughout and can celebrate another clean sheet for the 6s! Yeay!!

Dragons felt they were always in control in this match, but are very sorry to hear Evergreens talking about going down to one team next season. We hope they don’t. They have a long tradition in Norfolk hockey and the 2s always play in very good sporting spirit with their heads up (and a nice tea afterwards).

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 7s: Slip Date

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 5-2 Shefford & Sandy 1

Norwich Dragons 1 faced league leaders Shefford and Sandy 1, who needed only a point to clinch the league having been promoted to Division 2N last season.

Whilst the Dragons are known as hospitable hosts, they weren’t over keen on letting Shefford pop the champagne corks on their pitch, so decided to play some scintillating, energetic and exciting hockey, that proved too much for the team who still sit at the top of the pile.

Two goals apiece from the youngster Ben Watson and the…not so youngster Rupert Snelling who both stretched the Shefford defence, on numerous occasions.  The opening goal however was scored by another youngster who has happily fulfilled his potential, Jonty Gosling.  A powerful, direct run from Ben Watson, probably beating a couple of defenders as is his wont, lead to a squared pass to Gosling, who was able to finish neatly from close range.

At the other end, the entire back 4 made breaching their defences particularly difficult, even for a team who have scored on average 4 goals a game.  Rich Smith, Olly Buck, Tom Harris and Man of the Match Ed Smith all worked particularly hard to keep their opponents outside of their D.  Ed Smith in particular battled hard, with moments of exquisite skill, to show the visitors how hockey is played in Norfolk.

The second half opened with a Rich Smith trademark cross, converted expertly by Rupert Snelling, scorer of goals. Extending the lead to 4-1, so soon after half-time, gave Dragons the confidence they needed to further stretch the Champions Elect.  Henry Laming, crashed numerous passes cross field, with expert skill and as the gaps further opened Harris was able to exploit his pace down he right hand flank.

As the final whistle blew, the Dragons looked forward to the next 4 fixtures that will prove significant to the way in which the league shakes down come the end of the season.

Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 0-3 Magpies 3

Men’s East Hockey League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 3-4 Lowestoft Railway 1

This week the Mens 3s welcomed Lowestoft 1s to the Den.  Having beaten Dragons 4-0 in the first half of the season, Dragons were determined to get some points this time.

Both teams started well, but it was Lowestoft who were first off the mark, putting a goal away to take the lead.  Dragons got their act together and constructed some strong attacks.  Some great distribution from Dom SAMWAYS at the back, led to attacks down the left and right by Ali SMYTH and Nick TURNER.  They fed the balls through to forwards Will MAIN and Oli BROWNE who worried the Lowestoft defence.  Once such attack led to a SMYTH reverse stick strike which slammed into the goal, taking the score level.

Not long after this the Lowestoft keeper had to retire due to an arm injury making a diving save.  This then led to a period when Dragons were clearly on top, dominating possession.  A short corner was rewarded and Adam SAYER smacked the ball into the back corner, giving Dragons the lead into the end of the first half.

Dragons started the second half well and once again came close to extending their lead.  Stu KELLY and Rob GOODSON worked hard in the middle as the game became more drawn out.  James GOODSON and Jon GOODSON kept the back tight, and provided good outlets for the ball down the wings.

However, it was Lowestoft who had the breakthrough.  Keeper Dim IVES made some key saves throughout the game, but a shot from Lowestoft got through.  They equalised, then scored another after a penalty flick was awarded.  Dragons were not happy and started their attacks again, but nothing seemed to click.  Frustrations showed and a couple of the Dragons players had a little rest on the naughty bench.

Lowestoft took the score to 4-2 after a skilful run by one of their players, saw a shot bounce and bobble through to a waiting player at the back.  Dragons kept on fighting and were rewarded by a last minute goal when a slip past the keeper from SAYER was slotted in by Will MAIN.

Dragons lost the match 4-3, having had the lead, and possession for much of the game.  Dragons have to keep their composure and positivity in future games, as this is the second game in a row where a lead has been lost.

Men’s East League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 3-1 Magpies 4

Dragons eased their relegation worries and went above their opponents in the table with an excellent 3-1 win at Magpies.  With just four matches left including games against the bottom two in the division, Dragons’ destiny is in their own hands.

Dragons welcomed back some of the younger players into their squad and after some late withdrawals, were delighted that Garnet Jones made his return after a season decimated by injury.

The game started at a high tempo, with players working hard to keep warm in the cold conditions.  From the start, Dragons moved the ball well to the wings and were able to hold the ball up in attack, the experienced Adrian Kemp and Andy Cross aided by the nimble skills of Charlie Nunn.

10 minutes in Rob Chaney-Baxter opened the scoring, latching on to Cross’s pass across the keeper.

Just a few minutes later, despite having moved to right back after a knock to Max Laming, skipper Rob Jenkins made a marauding run through the middle, playing a sublime one-two with Cross and slotting the ball past the Magpies keeper.

The two goal margin didn’t last long however as the game continued at a frenetic pace and Magpies pulled one back with a tap in after some pinball in the Dragons’ D.

Dragons continued to play the more threatening hockey, Ed Murphy and Alberto Embarba bossing the centre of midfield, whilst the defence of Jon Price, Andy Hipper, Dave Pentin and Max Laming limited the attacking play of Magpies.  In the Dragons goal, Giles Brooks sported some sparkly new pads and used them effectively to make some smart clearances.

Towards the end of the half, Dragons restored their two goal advantage when Chaney-Baxter was on hand to put home the rebound from a Hipper short corner strike.

The second half saw Dragons continue to play some of their best hockey of the season and despite no further goals, maintained control of the game and ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.

Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 4-1 Nomads 1

After a week of player shuffling between teams we were still not sure how many would turn up for the game and the Captain was fairly worried before push back with only 8 players with 1 minute to go but somehow 3 more crept out of the car park to enable us to start with a strong 11.

The home side started very strongly and went 1 up with Paul Poacher Kassulke finding the gap between the keeper and the right hand post. Nomads responded very strongly with our fantastic Keeper Peter the panther making some extraordinary saves with a MOM performance. Soon after, a direct ball from our 16 with some quick passing saw Josh the pistol  Bingham in space calmly slap the ball home for goal number 2. Nomads had a few more runs in the Dragon’s half but the play was mainly all Dragons in the first half. Just before half time a ball was hit hard into the D which found the slightest of touches from the back of George the power wright’s stick and ended up in the goal. Nomads were not happy with the umpires decision to award a goal but as we all know, they are always right. 3-0 going into the break.

The game was quite physical with the Nomads making good use of their size and aggression which involved both captains being called over to discipline our players in the first half and then yet again at half time! The Dragons captain suggested to the umpires that if it was an issue they should get their cards out and get on with it. And indeed they did in the second half with half our team being sent to the naughty bench at various times in the 35minutes with some early valentines cards. Note to captain – keep mouth shut. Love was definitely in the air with all the cards and also with Matt Sat nav walking onto the pitch hand in hand with his girlfriend and then informing the captain he felt stiff…..and even stiffer in the second half….

Second half was more of the same but slightly more even and with the Dragons only having 9 men on the pitch for some of the game the Nomads managed to get a goal back from a sat nav misfunction. The last 10 minutes saw continued pressure in the Nomads half which resulted in some short corners. Pistol Bingham managed to hit the post with an excellent strike and then Andy big hitter Carver smashed a straight strike into the post man’s leg which resulted in Andy so solid Keys converting the flick.

A great team performance

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 1-2 IES 6

This was one of Dragons 6’s best away performances against a top team in the league, which all involved said a draw would have been a fair result. Dragons did not start well when they allowed IES to find their forwards with innocuous through balls which gave keeper Chris Miller little chance. Dragons were attacking with purpose & when the IES keeper sat on Club Captain Tom Vaughan, the same player stepped up to take the flick which the keeper pushed on to the bar & then prevented the falling ball from creeping over the line. Debutant Fred Sargent made a confident start in defence & was later seen throwing aerials in support of the attack. The family Hansell’s, Ray & James were similarly solid in defence.

The second half was again end to end from both sides. Skipper Mike Banham saw his short corner followed up by a Williams (was it Harry or Tom) who flicked in the Dragon’s reply. With Owain Hall, holding the middle of the park, Connor Adams revealed his vision with cutting passes to Joel, Tom V & Tom W who all had shots on target but good keeping prevented an equaliser whilst Chris in the Dragon’s goal was doing the same thing with some full length saves.

MOM was Connor, who while in his words was disappointed not to be more involved, must realise how pivotal his passing game is to setting up many Dragon attacks of substance.

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons 4-2 Norwich City

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 1-4 Lowestoft Railway