NDHC League Match Reports: 17/12/2016

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 3s 2-1 Evergreens 1

Flying high after last weeks’ 9-0 victory, Ladies 3s knew that they would have to work hard to take a much needed 3 points from Evergreens, if they were to maintain their push for promotion into the second half of the season.

The 3s started quite sluggishly, struggling to find each other in their usual expansive passing style but instead seeing a number of weak passes snapped up by the opposition, who initially had the upper hand in the game simply by seeming to want the ball more. The first half continued in much the same vein with Dragons failing to hit their stride but still managing to cut out any attacks. Keeper Alice Smith made some strong clearances leaving the score at the halfway mark at a stalemate.

The half time team talk from coaches Mark and Ollie instructed the girls to focus on the bigger picture rather than getting dragged down by the finer points of the game. Dragons took this on board and improved significantly in the second half, although they initially found themselves 1-0 down due to a well-taken strike from a short corner. This seemed to wake the 3s up however as the team were determined not to lose the game and so an equaliser came not long afterwards. A sustained spell of pressure saw a series of short corners and the ball fell for Sam Franklin whose shot looped up from a defender’s stick and sailed into the back of the net. Another penalty corner a few minutes later was struck powerfully across goal and into the far corner by Debs Smith to put the girls ahead.

After taking the lead the result never looked in doubt. Despite a few spectacular falls the defensive line of Harriet Green, Sarah Wagstaff, Angela Murgatroyd and Carmel Windsor-Waite held firm at the back, assisted by Tash Falzon and Claire Canning, in her final game for the team before heading to New Zealand. This allowed the 3s to start building attacks as they had been unable to do in the first half, assisted by a tiring Evergreens side who were unable to press as they had done earlier in the game. Hazel Sumner and Trish Hagan charged forward on the wings, threading passes through to Kate McKenna on the left and Sam Franklin on the right, Caroline Wolfe and Lauren Lawrie working to create space in the centre. This led to several more short corners and sustained pressure on the Evergreens goal, with McKenna seeing a shot on the post go agonisingly wide, and Franklin almost adding her second but instead hitting the post.

Although the 3s were unlucky not to add to their lead it enabled them to look comfortable at 2-1 and take the much needed 3 points, nursing various cuts and bruises after the very physical game. This hard fought win will see Dragons go 2nd in the table; hopefully they can sustain this momentum for the rest of the season. Player of the match went to Sam Franklin for her tireless running down the wings.

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

Ladies 6’s always knew this re-arragned match was going to be a tough one. With that said, we went into the game with open minds and plenty of determination. The first half began as expected with Evergreens pushing hard testing our tenacious defensive line up of Katie Franks, Hannah Woods, Katy Saide and Nicola Robinson. We were successful in defending several of the Evergreens advances with excellence goal keeping from Luisa Valentini (POM), but their persistence eventually earned them two goals. With every attempt they had on goal, our motivated, goal-hungry team went on the counter attack. Mia McGhee in only her second game with us proved a valuable asset, making sure she was in the D and creating opportunities. Lizzy McDonnell, Sophie Thurtell and Rosie Skipp worked hard up front, displaying strong stick skills and sending plenty of balls into the D as well as each having shots on goal themselves, but all were sadly denied.

In the second half, the team were still feeling very much in the game and determined not to concede any further. With continued hard work from the midfield, the ever strong Beth Elgood showed her flexibility playing both top of the diamond and centre back, with Katie Franks also demonstrating flexibility stepping into the midfield role for part of the game. Beth Coates and Elsa Scott showed high work rates and caused problems for the opposition slowing their advances down in the middle of the pitch tirelessly tracking backwards and forwards. Fiona Fletcher provided consistency in midfield, displaying excellent ball distribution and opening up spaces. Ginny Simkin made up the last piece of the midfield team initially playing on the right before returning to bottom of the diamond, working hard to support the defence.

With great determination and team work we succeeded in defending all of the advances from Evergreens in the second half, including back to back short corners. This was due to so many members of the team having defensive skills and the whole team working together to clear the ball away form the danger areas. This team was a pleasure to play with and the work rate was second to none. We were unlucky not to score a goal, a theme that has plagued us this season, however with the determination displayed in this match and throughout the season I have no doubt that this curse will be left behind in 2016.

Empresa Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons A 4-1 Dereham

On a murky December Saturday Norwich Dragons Development boys took to the field to play their last game of 2016 against Dereham in a game rearranged from earlier on in the season.

Dragons started the game very well and played some very positive hockey in the first half against a well organised Dereham team. The score at half time was 2-0 to Dragons with 2 very well worked goals being scored by Edward Cross and Daniel Murphy.

In the second half Dragons continued their good team play and a third goal was soon scored when James Cross passed to Edward Cross in the D who finished well to score his second and Dragons third goal of the afternoon. Dereham then scored their first and only goal of the game a great reverse stick hit into the corner of the Dragons goal. Both teams then played out an even second half with short corners being earned at both ends of the pitch.

In the final moments of the game Jonny Taylor combined with James Cross who slotted the ball home with what turned out to be the final hit of the game to make the final score Dragons 4 Dereham 1.

Dragons go into the Christmas holidays on the back of a great team performance and a very good win. Edward Cross was named man of the match in the pizza bar afterwards after a very good personal performance and 2 crucial goals.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Dragons Development Boys. See you in 2017.