NDHC League Match Reports: 19/11/2016

Women’s East Hockey League Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 1s 3-0 Norwich City 1

This week, Norwich Dragons faced local rivals Norwich City.  After last week’s illness, injury and other issues that meant they had travelled to Bromley with 12 players and no coach, the team were up to 13 players and a coach this week, whilst still missing several of the regular squad.  Dragons fancied their chances against bottom of the league team. The hosts had a strong start with lots of good attacking play and nice passing around the edge of the D, but with most of the City team camped in defence, it was hard to get the shots off.

Dragons finally managed to break down the resilient defending halfway through the first half when Marie James put together some nice touches in the middle of the pitch and passed it to Rachel King at the top of the D, who put it to Hayley Toleman on the base line, Toleman threaded it back to Liv Sumpter who slotted it in the goal putting Dragons 1-0 up.

Dragons continued to do some great passing and even when City gained possession, the Dragons defence always managed to pick the ball up and worked the distribution beautifully to the midfield, especially Holly Reding who was voted Player of the Match. Although both teams had some good chances, the first half ended 1-0.

After a very motivational half time talk, Dragons went out knowing there were still more goals to be scored. Dragons turned the ball over in City’s half and King skilfully drove into the D and won a short off a City foot. The ball came fast and accurately to King at the top of the D. King played a one-two with Toleman before calmly putting the ball through the City keeper’s legs to put Dragons 2-0 up.

City kept fighting back but all their attacks were again easily dealt with by the fearless Dragons defence. The hosts had great flowing play and many excellent opportunities which were unfortunately cut out by City’s rapid keeper, as well as their whole team who were behind the ball.

Dragons finally managed to convert another one of their attacks. Marie James picked up the ball in the D and had a great scoring opportunity.  Unfortunately, she was fouled, however this won the Dragons a penalty stroke. King took the stroke and precisely put it away on the left side just above back board height. Despite Dragons’ lead, both teams fought tirelessly until the end. City won quite a few short corners but between the speedy defence and Dragons swift keeper Emma, City never managed to get a goal.

The final score was 3-0 to Dragons and everyone should be so proud of the performance.

Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons 2s 0-3 Colchester 1

Arriving at the Garrison in good time and to a beautiful sunny day, Dragons spirits were high, buoyed by the returning Donna Vaughan and welcoming Lucy King in goal for her Dragons league debut, with their own Keeper Emma Cleland called up into the 1’s. A lap of the athletic track, won by Ally Windsor-Waite, saw the athletes ready for a fast start!

A strong start it was too, with Hannah Phillips looking dominant and at ease at the top of the diamond, with the ever busy and vocal Shelly Seaman behind her, ready to sweep up anything that came through the middle. With Donna Vaughan, marshalling the defensive team of Carmel Windsor-Waite and Karen O’Neill-Simpson the early signs for Dragons looked good, with them dominating early possession. However when your luck is down, your luck is down, and influential Ally Windsor-Waite took an early and thunderous crack to the hand, forcing her off the pitch to nurse her nasty looking finger injury.

Undeterred, Dragons continued to play their hockey, without making any real clear cut chances. Once again they were undone by a quick break, with Colchester breaking down their right, getting in behind the defence, and a bouncing ball was ‘batted’ past the outstretched King hitting high into the top corner. Dragons were not to be downhearted – Sam Franklin, Helen Busfield and Gail Thomas were working hard down the flanks, feeding the hard working forwards. A chance came before halftime, with an early ball from Hannah Hardy which found Laura Ward, whose skills took her beyond a couple of players, Ward found Issy Wolfe who had made an excellent run into space in the D, unfortunately however the strong connection wasn’t there, but this encouraged Dragons who knew they were very much in the game.

After the break, Dragons completely dominated the first 15 minutes, with their run-away Player of the Match, Hannah Phillips dominating in the middle, winning every 50 / 50 ball and creating chances for the forwards. A fine Dragons move from deep saw the ball fired into Phillips, whose pin-point pass found Hardy at the top of the D, an early strike saw the GK scrambling but the ball went agonisingly wide of the far post. Dragons’ domination continued, but the defence needed to guard against the quick break and Donna Vaughan needed to be at her best to pick off the ball as Colchester looked to penetrate. A number of short corners for the home team were dealt with well by the ever impressive King in goal, stepping out high and kicking wide to clear the danger.

A 2nd goal came for Colchester against the run of play, but the visitors were not going to lay down, and continued to battle for everything. By this time Ally Windsor-Waite had bravely returned to the pitch, and was tormenting the Colchester defence; alas a break away goal at the end, when Dragons were committed forward in numbers, meant a 3rd goal came, despite the valiant efforts of the flying Lucy King.

It may sound like a broken record, but anyone watching the game would agree this was another harsh scoreline, but sadly for the visitors, the score doesn’t lie. The results will come and everyone is determined, behind Captain Karen O’Neill Simpson, to make it happen.



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

3s were totally up for the early trip to Evergreens -even if no one could find Hewett gate 4. Certain members of the team even refusing to wear trackies on such a cold morning so they could stay alert. The tunes were pumping out of the fun bus -including the cha cha slide, s club, and avicci although Claire slept all the way through ‘wake me up’. Sadly after travelling all the way to Holt, including a classic wolfie detour through a forest, 3s were informed that the game was called off due to a frozen pitch.

Not ones to waste an opportunity, 3s opted instead for a theory session to discuss tactics in one of Holts famous training centres aka tea shops. After not being quite properly attired for the egon ronay environment of byfords, 3s headed to follies. Drink and cake choice was a real team effort. Notable performances came from several players. Kate enjoyed her hot chocolate so much she lapped it up. Sarah was set up nicely by her 3rd cup of coffee of the day. Debs claimed the player of the match award for the tiny scone served on the giant trophy platter whilst spike went for the unusual selection of the plum Bakewell. Fuelled up nicely and with no soggy bottoms in sight the 3s headed back to Norwich in time to support the other dragons teams around the county, and nicely fuelled up with calories to burn next time we face Evergreens in the rearranged fixture.

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

After a touch and go morning the Ladies 4XI opened play at a frosty den. We started off slightly sluggish whilst we tried to work with the pitch conditions. We took control from the start with the attack and Ella Kassulke, Bella Capps, Emma Woodhouse and Lou Davis didn’t let Carrow get past our half way line. Our attack paid off and we won our first short corner. Ella Kassulke injected to Sue Cross who hit the ball straight in. The ball came off the keepers pads for Sophie wood to lift it past the keeper to score. For a moment there was disbelief whilst the reality sunk in and we were winning. This ignited Carrow’s determination and they came straight on the attack, Lucy Morton, Charly Burgess, Rachel Bruce, Holly Bailey and Clare Moylan were working their socks off in midfield running back and forth to help Alice Smith keep a clean sheet. There were some hairy moments but Alice Smith dominated the D to ensure we finished the first half 1-0 up.

After a motivational team talk coupled with a loud entourage we were on the attack once again. The ball was being played round the dragon’s defence to Anja Finnegan and Sue Cross up front who were able to run into the D and setting up Catherine Longe to take a strike. Megan Williams and POM Clare Moylan held the middle and were able to use each other to ultimate effect. Sophie Wood was able to fire a few more shots in backed up by Charly Burgess however we were unable to finish it. It all got a bit fruity but our defence stayed strong directed by keeper Alice Smith however Carrow won a short corner in the final few minutes of the game. Carrow played the short and managed to find themselves with a controversial goal. After an outraged coach, players and entourage and looking at Lou Davis leg (where the ball hit before it went in) the decision was overturned and they lost the goal. Dragon’s stayed strong and played out the rest of the minutes to secure their first win of the season. A well deserved result.

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

With some refreshing weather, Dragons 5’s set out to challenge Reepham, after a loss last week we wanted to get back to winning ways.  For the game we had 15 players available so we decided maximum energy was needed when on the pitch as we could recover when subbed off.  Luckily we had Christina Murgatroyd and Beth Elgood to run the bench.  In the first 15minutes the Dragons had all of the play and many chances on goal which were unsuccessful. Reepham did not want us to get a goal and there were some tough challenges for the ball.  Dragons battled on but were becoming frustrated by the opposition challenges.  Reepham were quick to read the ball and solid on interception.

At half time the 5’s discussed passing the ball before we got intercepted and making sure the forwards were on the post to get those passing shots.  Unfortunately the game still didn’t follow this plan and on a short corner for Reepham, Luisa Valentini saved the ball for it to be picked up on a rebound and slotted away on the post.  The Dragons weren’t downbeat and knew with all the chances a goal would come, and it did on a short corner the pass was passed right to Megan Farrant who slapped it into the goal behind the keeper.  The Dragons continued to battle even when the final whistle got called early and then had to play on for another minute.  Unfortunately not our best game.  Player of the match goes to Chelsea Crawford for her constant energy and defensive power.

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

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Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 7s 1-3 Broadland 3

Dragon 7 were keen to get another win but expected league leaders Broadland 3 to make it a difficult task.

Dragons started off well, intercepting the ball and dominating from the start. Claire Stuart put Dragons ahead by getting a goal in the first 10 minutes. Dragons maintained the pressure, keen to stay ahead, but Broadland managed to get through and equalised. Claire and the other forwards, Mia McGhee, Katrina Speirs and Katie Moulson, made wave after wave of attacks on Broadland’s strong defence who kept knocking the ball away. Dragons kept the heads held high, getting most of the possession and putting pressure on Broadland. Maisie Dearmer made her debut for the 7s and proved to be an asset, joining the rotating midfield of Jodi Rump (POM), Jess Vernon, Stevie Spencer, Claire Fairhurst and Helen Walker. Maisie and Jodi made excellent runs down both wings, flying past Broadland’s attempted tackles. However, when Broadland did get through they had to deal with the defence of Amy Forse, Frankie Paul, Esme McKinnon-Evans or Ruby Rose-Turrell. Sarah Sheffield made her debut in goal for Dragon 7s, and proved fearless when faced with Broadland’s strong shots, stopping and kicking them away. She bravely faced her first ever penalty flick, which she didn’t manage to save but made a great effort. This brought Broadland to 2:1 at half time.

Dragons returned to the pitch after the half time break keen to carry on the battle and to equalise the score. Again Dragons dominated, and made numerous attacks on the goal, with the ball being deflected by Broadlands keeper and a Dragon pinging it back. Broadland’s defence stopped every one of Dragons attempts. Broadland managed to fight their way through to score another, and although Dragons kept up the fight to the last whistle, they just couldn’t find the back board again.

Although Dragons were disappointed with the 3:1 loss, they are certain that if they keep up the great teamwork the results will come.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 8s 0-1 Magpies 7

Dragons will think they deserved a point against Magpies after putting in a much better performance all round this week. They matched the visitors in every department, and just one small defensive slip let Magpies in for the winner well into the second half. Illness and injury in the higher teams meant that the 8s once again  had four changes to the 15-player squad, but once again the captains and selectors did a tremendous job to ensure every available Dragon was offered a game.

The 8s are still experimenting in order to find their strongest team. This week they had Emily Roper in goal. Normally a defender, Emily made loads of good saves  and her clearance kicks were particularly strong. The 8s  are gradually building a good defence, with Jo Baker pivotal in the centre and flanked by Johanne Steward, Anna Chapman and Ruth Barton. These four rotate, and with Jo and Ruth setting examples in how to tackle, Anna’s confidence is increasing in leaps, and Johanne continues to improve the timing of her challenges. The key role at the bottom of the diamond was filled by Louise ‘Bondy’ Bond,. player of the match, who bossed that position and made it very hard from the Magpies to drive through the middle. Bondy was definitely a key placement in the 8s jigsaw.

The rotating mids were Gemma Ballard, Louise ‘Brooksy’ Brooks, Alice Bishop and Amelia Keitley-Webb. Amelia impressed with her speed and ability to read the game. Brooksy and Ballard were very good at holding the ball up and getting the passes through to the forwards. Shaniece Claxton and Sophie Drew made some very good runs out wide, and as they gain in experience they will be able to drive the ball through or across more strongly. Captain Katy Cole showed the team how to drive down the line, but with the Magpies keeper and defenders playing very securely, there were not too many chances for Lois Metcalfe, who took up some excellent positions, or Bridget Le Good – who can be criticised for not being in the right place, but did lay on several penetrating passes into the circle.

So another end-to-end game, with Dragons being far more solid defensively this week. The next step is for them to add well-directed passes to their firm block tackles. The mids ran their socks off, tackled back and found their own players far more consistently than they did in the last game, but they can improve their passing  still further. The rotating forward line possibly needs some adjustment, and this is one section of the team that needs to build confidence. If they improve their communication and get more penetration with the final pass into the circle, the goals will come.

This was another very enjoyable game for the 8s, with a good contribution from Lily Sore who did an excellent job in running the rotations. Everyone is looking forward to the next game, and hopefully tasting a victory!

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 2-0 Norwich City 3

Norwich Dragons started the game off on the front foot with lots of short, sharp passes to link up with forward leads and after tireless effort and pressure Ollie king managed to grasp a goal from a great string of passes through a T spot circle entry. Norwich city had their phase in the later stages of the first half but some brave defence, and some marvelous saves from peter meant we went into half time 1-0 up. The second half was a lot closer but hard work and simple hockey meant we could come out on top with a late screamer of a drag flick by Henry laming securing the victory and cementing our first place in the league.

Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 3-2 North Norfolk 1

The men’s seconds managed to pick up their third successive victory with a close win against Div 3NE strugglers North Norfolk.

The hosts started strongest and we’re rewarded early with a short corner strike from Graeme Smith driven low beyond the keeper.  As the half progressed the hosts asserted further pressure, and soon doubled their advantage in a similar fashion to the first goal, but it was Andy Hipper whose strike was successful.  The visiting side pulled a goal back just before the break through a well worked short corner.

The visitors started he second half strongly but were unable to take advantage of their early pressure. It was Dragons who eventually drew first blood in the second half through another short corner. Smith slipped the ball back to Richard Gill who slotted it home Cooley past the North Norfolk keeper.  A mazy individual run and finish from a North Norfolk player reduced the arrears giving Dragons a nervy end to the game as they were twice reduced to 10 men, and the umpires watch seemingly slowing down.

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

Facing top of the table UEA 2s, the Men’s 3s knew they would have a good game on their hands.  They started the game brilliantly, holding off a couple of early attacks by the UEA, and within the first 15 minutes, took the lead.  Good play by Lloyd SAYER in the centre, fed the ball through to forward Will KIRBY, who calmly slotted the ball past the keeper.

The Dragon defence worked excellent as a unit and managed to keep the ball out of their goal.  The Dragon midfield worked tirelessly to keep up with the youthful university side.  Good distribution from Patrick GORDON and James GOODSON allowed Dragons to attack down the flanks and cause problems for the UEA defence.  Dragons continued to work hard and were rewarded with another goal, when Rob CHANEY-BAXTER managed to connect with a ball from KIRBY, and took Dragons 2-0 up into the break.

The UEA attacked Dragons hard this half, but the level heads at the back kept them at bay and the Dragon midfield did a great job at cutting out through balls.  Despite their efforts, the UEA just couldn’t get back into the game, leaving Dragons to take the win.  A fantastic team performance all round.  Man of the match was Adam Sayer, who commanded from the back.

Men’s East League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 1-0 Norwich City 5

Dragons hosted City 5 at the Den with a squad lifted by the return of several players.

The first half saw Dragons playing some decent hockey and creating a number of chances.  Jon Chaney Baxter put in a great shift up front and wasn’t intimidated City’s much larger and more experienced centre back, beating him on several occasions with skill and pace.  Adie Kemp shrugged off an elbow to the eye and brought his usual composure to Dragons’ play, holding the ball up well.

City had one attack of note in the first half, Giles Brooks making an excellent double save to deny them, whilst the defence of Peter Davison, Neil Shorten, Jon Price, Rich Phillis and Andy Carver limited City’s attacking threat.

In front of the defence, Captain Rob Jenkins made a number of interceptions and unusually clean tackles to break up City’s play.  Will Ives and Pedro Goss attacked with pace down the flanks, whilst Nick Turner and Garnett Jones added solidity to the centre of the pitch.  Dragons’ work off the ball was notable, with players tracking back and marking tight to make things difficult for City.

Half time saw the score tied at 0:0.

Dragons finally broke the deadlock immediately after the restart, Adie Kemp popping up in just the right spot to slot home after some good work by Alex Browne in the D.

A number of Dragons’ short corners were well defended by City with one exceptional deflection at the post saving Alex Browne’s goal-bound shot.

Despite a number of good chances, Dragons were unable to add another goal and the final quarter was rather tense as City came back into the game.

The game ended 1:0 to Dragons earning a welcome 3 points ahead of two long away trips in the run up to Christmas.

Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 0-1 North Norfolk 3

Dragons dominated the early play through good work from Paul Kassulke &  Adrian Howes, creating several short corners which came to nothing.  Against the run of play N Norfolk went ahead via a short corner – simple strike down the middle of the goal.  Both sides continued to have chances as the game wore on, Dragons missing a flick late in the 2nd half, it was one of those days the ball was not going to go in….

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 3-5 Newmarket 3

A game of two halves would be the best way to describe the Division 7NE encounter between Dragons 6s and Newmarket 3s. The weather was a pleasant change from last week with it being dry and just enough cloud cover to block out the low sun. The game started about 15 minutes late after the previous match on the single pitch at Newmarket Leisure Centre, eventually pushing back at 3.15pm. The opening few minutes showed that Newmarket were going to be a tough opposition as they put together some neat play and put us under pressure. Dragons 6s tried to string together some passes to move the ball forward into the oppositions third but found the way blocked on numerous occasions. Unfortunately Newmarket took advantage of this and before too long had a seemingly comfortable 3 goal lead and were looking for more.

Towards the end of the first half and the first of the rolling substitutions, things changed for Dragons 6s significantly with first John Butler and then Darryl Robinson coming off with injuries. Pulled muscles seemed to be the culprit and this lead to Graham Muff coming back on from his turn on the bench to take Darryl’s positon at the top of the midfield diamond, in a restructure to the team in the centre of the pitch. This combination played until half time, with some good movement from Shiv and Tom Williams out wide on both wings beginning to make space and open up the game for Dragons.

It became clear during half time that Butts and Darryl wouldn’t be able to play in the second half so the unusual sight of Graham playing behind the forward line, ably supported by both James and Ray Hansell pushing up into mid field support when we were going forward. An increase of tempo breaking into Newmarket’s half payed dividends when we pulled back not one, but two goals in quick succession scored by Rob Lee and Tom Williams with a fine assist by Shiv and hard work from Ed Crosier. This turn around came as some surprise to Newmarket and they pushed forward again with renewed determination, although Alex Riddoch, Rich Davis and captain, Mike Banham did well to frustrate them on a number of occasions. James King made some good saves in goal, but ultimately Newmarket scored two more goals to take it to 5-2 going into the remaining ten minutes of the second half. Credit goes to everyone on the Dragons 6 team for digging in, running hard and chasing everything, which resulted in Rob Lee scoring a late, second goal for him which at the final whistle brought the final score to 5-3 in Newmarket’s favour.

It could be looked on as a disappointing result for the 6s, but I think it is fair to say that when push came to shove, the whole team came back from losing two important players to injury, restructured and went on to play some excellent hockey. This rollercoaster season continues next Saturday at The Den against Ipswich Cranes 2. As was proved this weekend, anything could happen in the next 2 x 35 minutes!

In a first for your scribe, Graham Muff was awarded Man of the Match.  Cheers Guys!

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons 4-1 Magpies

Dragons visited old rivals Harleston on a cold but bright morning. Dragons started poorly and soon conceded a goal from a short corner. The boys started to gain a foothold in the match but far to often play broke down with either misplaced passing or a failure to look for players in space being a constant problem. However just before half time Bobby Shepard pounced on a loose ball in the D and calmly swept it into the goal.  Halftime score 1-1.

The 2nd half saw a much improved performance with the ball being moved around the pitch with both width and pace. Following some fine build up play from Josh Wiggins, Ed Taylor scored the Dragons second goal, with Josh quickly following up with a goal from a short corner . Magpies continued to work hard and put together some fine passing moves and caused our defence a few nervous moments. Alex Wolfe made a  couple of fine saves to keep them at bay. Right at the end of the game Dragons were awarded another short corner after a strong run from Johnny Taylor., which James Cross finished to make the final score a slightly flattering 4-1 to the  Dragons.

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons B: No Fixture

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 4-0 Yarmouth