NDHC League Match Reports: 13/12/2014

Women’s East Hockey League East Prem
Norwich Dragons 1s 2:1 Canterbury 2s

Double Delight for Dragons – a second successive double for Norwich Dragons Ladies 1s in the East Premier Division

On a cold and frosty morning the ladies 1s set off on their 340mile round trip to Canterbury in search of 3 more points and their second double of the season.  Arriving in good time, thanks to the A11 opening the day before and the new ‘free flow’ system on the Dartford Crossing, the players were able to get the journey out of their legs and prepare for the tough game ahead.Although losing the toss, Captain Donna Vaughan chose to swap ends with the winter sun unusually playing a prominent role in the game.  As expected Canterbury started strongly and put the visitors on the back foot. Great defending all over the pitch, especially from Player of the Match Hollie Limmer and Emily Rolls, enabled the Dragons to weather the early pressure and grow into the game. Canterbury won numerous short corners to which the defence stood strong and keeper Siobhan Cleeve cleared her lines well making some effective saves. Sarah Richards and Sophie Mullan took control of the midfield, supported by the energetic youngsters, Olivia Thomas and Niamh Lowe-Davis, and chances for the visitors started arriving.Emma Tabrett and Kate Trewlawny Gower combined well up front to see Trewlawny Gower’s shot fly over the crossbar.Dragons were rewarded shortly afterwards with a short corner which captain Vaughan fired home, a smart strike which deflected over Canterbury’s players on the line giving them no chance.  Dragon’s 2nd goal quickly followed, another short corner, this time Kate Trewlawny Gower expertly drag flicking into the corner. A fantastic first half!The second half saw the Dragons playing into the low sun, which proved difficult to pick out their players. However, this did not thwart the hard working Dragons who continued to play the ball around well.   Tireless work up front from Hayley Toleman helped relieve the pressure that the Canterbury team exerted.  The home team did get some reward when they scored from a well worked short corner.Dragons finished strongly to ensure the 3 points came safely home to Norwich and add their excellent tally of the season so far.  A great squad effort.A massive thanks to coach Pete Thomas for all his efforts, including driving the bus and putting up with our singing on the way home (although if you listened carefully we are sure you could here him joining in most of the time!)

Women’s East Hockey League Division 2NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 1:0 Newmarket 1s

Dragons went into their 13th League fixture of the season on the 13th of the month, knowing another win would continue their 100% record through to the restart in January 2015. With temperatures barely above freezing, but the sun shining brightly, the pitch at the Den recovered well from the early frost, to ensure the fixture went ahead.

Dragons started well, putting pressure on Newmarket defence, with strong attacks by Natalie Beal, Laura Shreeve and Aoife Lowe-Davies. Newmarket held firm however and started to build in confidence, meaning the Dragons defence of Freddie Briscoe, Angela Murgatroyd, Sophie Thomas and Ally Windsor-Waite needed to continue their strong form and remain compact as a unit, which they did excellently.

Dragons continued to force the pace and had opportunities, one particular effort found Hannah Ellis in great space, having made an excellent run to the back post. As the ball made its way to her, the whistle went for an earlier infringement, meaning Dragons were awarded a short corner, rather than what could have been the first goal. Dragons forced further short corners, alas the breakthrough didn’t quite come, particularly as Newmarket GK Sade Atkinson and their Captain Faye Andreou were having outstanding games in defence.

Half time saw the team talk about being patient playing the Dragons way, knowing they would get their opportunities. Straight from the push back Dragons were back into the Newmarket D, forcing an early save from the keeper. It was with the next attack the breakthrough came – following good work on the left, Laura Shreeve picked up the ball and went on a mazy run across the D, eventually firing the ball goalwards, which saw number 13 Captain Hannah Hardy, get her stick to the ball to poke the ball home.

The pressure was now all Dragons, with joint player of the match Gail Thomas working hard in midfield alongside, Shelly Seaman, Karen O’Neill Simpson and ‘Birthday Girl’ Laura Tompson-Wright, to break up play and ensure Dragons continued to pressure the Newmarket goal. Further opportunities came and went, one great break saw the other joint Player of the Match Ally Windsor-Waite fire the ball quickly out of defence, her pass finding Natalie Beal in the Newmarket half, Beal ran half the length of the pitch, well supported by Laura Shreeve. Unselfishly Beal squared the ball to Shreeve, however once again the Keeper was in a perfect position to smother the goalbound effort. Another quick break saw Shreeve, Beal and Hardy combine well, only for the shot from Hardy to canon off the post – Coach Pete Thomas would have been proud, as this is what the team had been practising in training!

The final whistle went and Dragons achieved their 13th win of the season – an achievement borne out of hard work and ultimately great teamwork. Whilst the scoreline didn’t quite reflect the game in terms of possession, it was the 3 points the team had set out to achieve.

There remains plenty of hard work ahead for this team to achieve their targets for the season and it will be important for the team to maintain fitness levels over the festive period. Competition for places will become even more fierce in the New Year, with players returning from injury and general availability improving.

From a Captain’s perspective, I couldn’t have asked for more from this team / squad at this stage of the season, and I thank everyone for their continued enthusiasm, commitment and desire to achieve – let’s keep it going and keep believing ladies!

Huge thanks and best wishes for Christmas to Pete Thomas for his incredible patience and enthusiasm, to Mike Hardy for continuous sideline support and to Richard Gill and Mark Flatman.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 3s P-P Carrow 1

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 4s P-P Carrow
Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 5s 0:3 Herlings
Norwich Dragons 6s & 7s Club Friendly – Sunday 14th December
The 15 6s and 7s (and the one ‘3’ and the 3 dev girls) would like to thank everyone who contributed to our fast, flowing, fun and friendly club game on Sunday. It was a crisp, cold afternoon and with 19 players the play opened up and it was very encouraging to see the ball really being used around the pitch. The final score was something like 5-4, but both Natasha Falzon and Alice Smith made some excellent stops and initiated the attacks with bold clearances.
The Blue Dragons roared into an early lead, with Jane and Lucy Morton scything through the defence. But then the Green Dragons defence squad  (Isobel Keane, Katie Franks, and Emma Banks) grew their understanding, and when they were joined by Cath Power at the bottom of the diamond, the Greens had a spell on top. It was most encouraging to see Izzi Ferguson and Rosie Skipp forming a speedy partnership down the left with good overlapping runs and some strong crosses which Kat Speirs was there to push home, and Heather Tasker was also there to tonk in.  With the Greens taking a lead, Heather switched to the Blues for the second half.  Determined Tracy Stuart-Sheppard and Amy Forse (still awesome for an unwell player and goalkeeper by day) gripped the midfield along with Heather, and the scores evened up again, the pick of the goals being a hard shot from the top of the D by Lucy.  The Blues worked out how to construct a strong defensive line, and Jo Baker, Persy Magdalene and Katy Saide locked the Greens out, but worthy of mention was Isobel’s runs as an overlapping attacking defender, and the way Cath used wriggly stick skills to get into the circle.
A most encouraging aspect of this game was that by playing ‘Dragons hockey’ two scratch teams could come together and play to a good standard, with younger players like Jasmine Mansfield, Lucy Morton, Arabella Sabberton, Heather Tasker, Rosie Skipp and Izzi Ferguson whizzing and overlapping, whilst the defensive work of Arabella, Isobel and Katie was very composed and mature. They blended well with the ‘Get Back Intos’ who really play with gusto and demonstrated just how much they have improved this season. Both these teams play much better when they relax, and they are then capable of stroking the ball around with better pace and accuracy.  We are most indebted to our two umpires for giving up their Sunday afternoon.  Mark Flatman and Sophie Farrow kept the game flowing but demanded quality in the D and awarded several penalty corners. From the sidelines, the Blues were urged on by Christina Murgatroyd and the Greens by Bridget Le Good. Then afterwards we ate the 4s tea and refreshments from Mrs Franks. Yummy.

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 5:2 Cambridge Uni 3
 Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 1:4 Newmarket 1

Men’s East Hockey League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 1:0 Newmarket 2After drawing against fellow 4NE highflyers Felixstowe last week, Dragons were at home to Newmarket 2s.  Newmarket are the only team to have beaten Dragons this season, and so Dragons were looking to reap some revenge.  With Pete “Iceman” DAVISON ironically feeling under the weather in the chilly climate, Dragons welcomed back Glenn MASTERSON to complete what has been one of the most successful defences in the league so far.The floodlights were on and the game started as both teams were keen to get a full game for risk of ice.  Dragons started strong and an early chance for Will “Toby” KIRBY was unlucky not to put Dragons ahead.  Dragons won a couple of short corners this half, but unfortunately goals were not meant to be at this stage.  Good defensive work from James GOODSON, Ali SMYTH, Jon GOODSON and Glenn MASTERSON led to many balls coming to the midfield after taking the ball from Newmarket.Will MAIN showed he is definitely powered by Duracell as he worked hard up and down the Dragon left flank, linking up well with the Dragon forwards Adie KEMP and Matt “Santa” JENKINS.Newmarket did get some short corners of their own, and were unlucky not to score when they hit the post.  It was through good defending and the tenacity of Dragon Keeper Dim IVES that kept a clean sheet.  Halftime and it was 0-0.Dragons came out fighting as they knew they had to capitalise on chances and get a goal to secure the 3 points.  Once again John IVES produced some great runs down the right and made Newmarket work hard to keep it out of their goal.  The unstoppable duo of Stu KELLY and Rob GOODSON made a Hadrian Wall style barrier to keep Newmarket from the Dragon 25.  Chances came for Dragons, but the final touch just wasn’t there.  A whistle was blown for a short corner just as the ball crossed the Newmarket goal line, leading Dragons to miss another opportunity.  Adie KEMP was unlucky not score as the ball just didn’t fall right for him, as was Will KIRBY who just didn’t have luck on their side.

With under 10 minutes to go it was looking like Dragons were heading to another draw, until that is, a slick ball was delivered to Adam SAYER at the top of the D from Rob GOODSON.  Pirouetting like the Lord of the Dance, SAYER took the ball to the right, then shot, and the ball crossed the goal, ending in the far corner.  In pure disbelief at finally getting a goal this season, the celebrations were awkward and let us not speak of them again.

The remaining minutes saw Dragons really put the pressure on, and were denied another goal when John IVES’s shot was saved by the Newmarket keeper.

The final whistle went and Dragons claimed another 3 points to add to their ever increasing tally.  A well deserved break over Christmas for the 3s, who will return in the new year with only one thing on their mind: promotion!

Men’s East League Division 5NE
Norwich Dragons 4s P-P Ipswich 3
 Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 2:0 Ipswich 4

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s P-P IES 5

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons P-P Pelicans
Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons – No Fixture