NDHC League Match Reports: 24/10/2015

Women’s East Hockey League East Prem
Norwich Dragons 1s 1-3 West Herts 1

Dragons played host to the league leaders this week aiming to stop their 100% winning streak.

Dragons started brightly enjoying some good possession, moving the ball around well and keeping the visitors attack at bay.  Olivia Thomas and Niamh Lowe Davis worked tirelessly on both wings, supported by Marie James and Hayley Toleman, created some early opportunities.  At the other end, superb defending from Player of the Match Louise Murray, along with Holly Reding, Hollie Limmer and GK Siobhan Cleeve enabled the home side to keep the scores level at the break.

The second half followed the same path as the first and with the scores still at 0-0, Dragons were unfortunate to see several chances not reach the net with the ball striking the post and the West Herts GK making some fine saves.

The league leaders finally made the break through, midway through the second half with 2 quick goals.  Despite the setback Dragons battled on and on search for a goal themselves but were caught and punished as West Herts scored their third.  This didn’t deter the Dragons, who continued to push forward and were rewarded when Rachel King scored a fine individual and well deserved goal. Unfortunately time ran out the Dragons before they could add to their tally and the game finished 3-1.This was an excellent team performance from the home side and they should take pride in the way they played and applied themselves against the league leaders.


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

Dragons went into this game in good spirits following some good results in recent weeks. The squad arrived in good time, however the weather had taken a bit of a turn for the worse with heavy grey skies setting the tone for the day! Natasha Falzon was making her well deserved debut for the Ladies 2s and slotted in seamlessly to the team.

The visitors had the better of the opening 15 minutes with Laura Shreeve once again looking up for the fight, taking on defenders at pace and undoubtedly having the beating of players. A couple of early chances came and went, but eventually Dragons took the lead again following good work from Laura Shreeve on the right, squaring the ball to Hannah Hardy, whose scuffed effort made its way to Aoife Lowe-Davies, who had found a great position on the back post to slot the ball home.

Unfortunately rather than inspire Dragons, they seemed to go into their shell a little and allow Royston back into the game. The home team’s equaliser came mid-way through the half with a bobbling ball in the D, which wasn’t cleared and eventually made its way over the line.

Whilst the call at half time from Captain (and Birthday girl) Karen O’Neill-Simpson was for Dragons to keep possession, unfortunately the team failed to do this, and this served to encourage Royston, who took the lead with a short corner.

Dragons had spells of pressure and forced a number of short corners themselves; Marcy Windsor-Waite had an excellent reverse stick strike which was well saved by the keeper. A further chance then came for Dragons who always threatened on the break, a through ball to Laura Shreeve saw her make an outstanding run almost from the halfway line and then round the keeper, only for her effort to rebound off the post to safety.

A flurry of unnecessary cards for both teams saw the flow of the game broken, however eventually Royston made the points safe with a smart goal at the far post having fired in a cross from the right, which was glanced in at the back post.

A bad day at the office for Dragons, who will all know, to a player, that they can play much better both individually but more importantly as a team. Time to stick together and bounce back, as they look to welcome visitors Lindum (that’s Lincoln) to the Den next weekend.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 3s 9-1 Pelicans 2

Dragons rose to the challenge against Pelicans and produced a strong result to bring them back to the top of the leader board.

Dragons warmed up well and began the game with a great attacking spirit. Within the first few minutes, Caroline Wolfe scored a perfect straight strike from a penalty short corner. With short sharp passes between winger Sian Lawrie and Lauren Lawrie, the dynamic duo quickly returned the ball into the attacking D. Lauren calmly swept the ball into the back of the net to bring the score up to 2 -0.

Feeling confident Dragons persisted in pushing forward; with Lara Taylor holding the centre of the pitch and driving into the Pelicans D for a fantastic hit finish into the goal. A second goal for Lauren came from a well worked attack around the edge of the D by Hazel Sumner before being slapped into the bottom corner. A further 2 goals were scored for Dragons in the first half by Sian and Lara which brought the score up to 5-0.

Dragons began the second half as strong as the first, however Pelicans were not going to give in without a fight. The strong defence of dragons batted away any attempts from Pelicans to push through, with well-timed interceptions from Chelsea Crawford and Laura Bruce. Fantastic runs from Holly Bailey and Sam Franklin were able to remove the ball from danger and carry it back into the attacking half with ease and composure. Izzy Wolfe weaved her way through up the pitch to slap in goal number 6 for Dragons. Undeterred by the score line, Pelicans hit back and took full advantage of a stray ball and capitalised on the opportunity by scoring a goal to bring the score to 6-1. Dragons quickly retaliated, with Debbie Santa Clara stretching the game out wide to sling the ball directly into the D for Lauren to complete her hat trick. The strong back line of Angela Murgatroyd and Sarah Wagstaff offered great support to attacking players, with clean hit outs for players to run on to. Goal Keeper Kristina Smyth ensured the Dragons D was well defended by making great attacking clearances straight back up the pitch to allow further goals to be scored. With 2 further goals from Caroline and Lara, dragons were pleased to win 9 -1 at the final whistle.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 4s 7-0 Watton 2

With the victory over our local rivals last week fresh in their minds, the Dragons ladies 4th team were full of optimism as they prepared for this week’s challenge. They had learnt some valuable lessons over the previous few weeks, and they were determined to play our own game.

Dragons started particularly well. The forward attack of Amelia Dawson, Sophie Farrow, Sophie Wood and Anja Finegan utilised their speed to attack the Watton’s defence from both sides of the pitch time and time again. Dragons won no less than five short corners in the first half, and had numerous shots from close range saved. Full credit must be given to a remarkable performance by the Watton’s young keeper who ensured the score at half time was even, and left the Dragons pondering how they could possibly get the ball in the net.

The deadlock was finally broken ten minutes after the restart, following a goal from Amelia Dawson. Whether this dented the confidence of the Watton defence, or allowed the Dragons to relax was uncertain however a further six goals were scored in the remaining twenty minutes. There was a definite buzz in the team with even Louise Davis dribbling the ball into the D and taking a shot at the goal. Goals followed from Sophie Farrow, Sophie Woods, Anja Finegan and Debs Smith.

The one good chance of putting Watton on the score sheet followed an insightful aerial pass, which floated over the heads of the Dragons defence giving Watton the opportunity of a one on one shot with the keeper. Amy Tuck kept her cool, and with un- doubtfully her best save of the season kept calm to block the shot.

Bella Capps had a fantastic game in the centre of the defensive line, intercepting time and time again to keep the visitors out of the danger area. Debs Smith (POM) and Gemma Rump took control in the centre working well as a team to control the game switching the play to either flank.

Claire Canning, Megan Williams and Christine Musowe all worked hard to support the forwards.

The game was played in good spirits, and perhaps the final score line did not reflect the fantastic performance by the Watton Keeper, or the number of good chances created by the Dragons.

Scorers : Amelia Dawson (2) Sophie Farrow (2) Debbie Smith, Anja Finegan, Sophie Woods

POM : Debbie Smith.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 5s 2-1 Yarmouth 2

We set off for the coast but not for chips and ice cream.  It was going to be an unusual game as we didn’t have any of our usual defenders available, luckily Katie Franks stepped up and filled in.  She was accompanied by Charlotte Pounder and Laura Hansell, who prefer midfield positions but also show their strength in defence.  Den Howes took the first push back for Dragons, Anna Brook passed it out wide to Rachel Bruce who ran it down the line.  All the Dragons pushed forward, the opposition intercepted and picked up the ball, quickly closed down by Chiara Bond.  Dragons midfield of Rachael Matthews and Ellie James were showing their skills at passing the opposition up the wings.  The Dragons had the majority of ball possession but the opposition packed the D with defenders and it was difficult to get a ball through.  The opportunity then came from a short corner, injected quickly by Zara Howes to Den who cracked off a smash into goal, unfortunately too high.  Closing down all the free hits taken by the opposition, Anna was quick to pass them back into the D.  Den weaved past the opposition and struck the ball this time it dented the backboard.  1-0. With renewed vigour the Dragons were picking up the balls passing well around the opposition but no more goals came before half time.  Alice Smith in goal saw little action in this half.

At half time the Dragons knew that more players were needed in the D to increase the number of goals.  Yarmouth came back with much more pace and strength than seen in the first half.  But with Vicky Earley at the bottom of the diamond they didn’t get too far.  She closed them down and forced them to pass or give up the ball.  Yarmouth’s tactic was to hit long balls through to a runner often this was intercepted by Charlotte and then passed round to Katie or Laura, who shot it up the wings.  On one opportunity they managed to get a ball through, and their captain dashed up to take a strike on the ball and Yarmouth scored.  The Dragons were fired up and knew that their game play of passing the balls wide using skills to bypass the opposition would bring more goals.  Both Ellie and Rachel picked up rebounds and fired them in and the opposition keeper leapt around.  But Den in the D on the end of a ball means a goal is coming, she fired another in and the keeper stopped it but it rebounded, struck the opposition and went into the goal.  Jubilation!  Yarmouth were still pushing hard and Alice had a little more work, kicking the balls away.  The opposition were awarded a short corner when Hazel blew the whistle.  Yarmouth all pushed up and the forwards and midfield were ready to run like the wind.  The ball was injected, received pushed forward and Vicky at speed took it and hit it clear.  Another win 2-1.

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

The 6s were given a lesson in robust hockey by a mature Beccles side who displayed all the advantages of having a small squad that plays regularly together, plus having two or three players with excellent ball carrying skills and half a dozen who can strike the ball hard and accurately.

Unfortunately, the present weaknesses in the 6s play meant they were not in the game, and they can thank Laura Tuck for some excellent saves and some wayward shooting from Beccles for keeping the score down. Laura justifiably shared the pom for clearing impressively, frequently, and for keeping her cool when two of her defenders shot past her, typically failing to deal with balls bouncing off their own sticks.

This was the final match (for the time being) for Lois McGregor, who has been such a loyal club player at various levels, who always gives her best. We would have like to have given her a better send off, but another of the 6s failings made an unwelcome reappearance. When faced with a robust team, 6s just cannot get that final ball into the circle – either the neat passes are intercepted, or players run into contact and fail to use a back pass or transfer to players in support. We  achieved no penalty corners and had possibly only two or three shots, with Rosie Skipp tussling hard with a defender to get a shot away and Lucy Morton unluckily having her stick hooked  when she looked nicely set.

The report thus far may give the impression that Dragons had a torrid and disheartening time of it, but this was not the case. In fact, Beccles had to grind out their win with three goals in the first half and two in the second. Dragons kept battling away, with Gill Walker (joint pom) setting a great example in going for every ball and making plenty of tackles. Catherine Matthews, Lucy and Rosie refused to give best to very strong opponents. Ginny Simkin had an impressive game in defence, linking well with her midfields, and Beth Elgood  showed her skills defensively and speed going forwards. With the number of green cards that are dispensed nowadays  it was perhaps surprising that none was awarded for crunching stick tackles or flying sticks. Jo Eke was flattened by a stick to the cheek, but fortunately was able to carry on.

Before the memories of this defeat fade, the 6s need to redouble their efforts in training to be first to the ball, practice avoiding contact, and add some power to their accurate passing game. They are close to being competitive against the best in this division and they have the determination and talent to do it.

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

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 4-4 Dereham 2

After a painful loss to local rivals, Norwich Dragons 1s faced a strong Dereham team, keen to improve on their performance and build for the rest of the season.  Hoping to make a good start, the Dragons conceded two early goals, which did not set them up well.

However, a strong finish to the first half, saw the Dragons draw level.  Good forward play from Ben Watson, lead to a fine reverse stick finish from Mark Flatman to set the Dragons on their way.  A second soon came, courtesy of Ollie King, finishing well from close range from a short corner rebound.

The Dragons dominated the play for much of the opening of the second half and managed to take a lead through a fine finish from close range from Henry Laming.  Dereham equalised from a short corner, but an extremely firm finish from Mitch Smith gave Dragons what they hoped would be the decisive goal.

Dereham however, showed their experience at the end of the game and strong play at the right time, lead to a painful equaliser, in the final seconds of the game with the final touch.  All in all a much improved performance from the Dragons.

Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 1-4 IES 2

A somewhat depleted Norwich Dragons 2nd team made the journey to play table-topping Ipswich and East Suffolk 2nds this weekend. A somewhat disorganised start, and a make-shift midfield could have caused greater concerns than they actually did, and a fairly cagey opening half meant that neither side could break the deadlock and the interval came with the scores at nil nil.

It was the home team though that started the second half much brighter, and they quickly scored an opener after a defensive lapse. Dragons then began to struggle with possession, and it was no surprise when IES scored a second. Wolfe and Browne then interlinked well immediately on the restart for Browne to score within 20 seconds. This might have started a fightback, but instead IES responded well and forced another error from Dragons and they restored their 2 goal lead.

The final passage of the game was a story of a Dragons midfield side bereft of confidence and struggling to make good decisions with the ball, and it was no surprise when the home team added a fourth to seal the match. The score possibly didn’t reflect the overall balance of the game, but Dragons will need to work on securing possession in the weeks ahead.



More photos from The John&Adam Empire Strikes Back here.

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

An early start at the Den saw Dragons 3s take on local rivals City 4s.  They were promoted with Dragons at the end of last season, finishing one place above them.  Having drew against City in a pre-season game, and City having drew with Dragon’s 2nd team a couple of weeks ago, Dragons knew this wouldn’t be an easy game.  It was a strong, young City side that turned up, mixing in some experienced players, that confirmed to Dragon’s 11 man side, this would be hard work.

City started strong and put the pressure on the Dragon defence of keeper Dim IVES, Rich PHILLIS, Stu KELLY, and man of the match James GOODSON.  Under attack, Dragons worked hard to defend, but struggled to get the ball out of their half, in fact to have any players past the halfway line.

Eventually Dragons settled into the game and started to link with their forwards.  Forward Geoff ROBERTS pushed higher and this led to the game becoming more spread out.  Rob GOODSON and Adam SAYER worked hard in the middle, picking up any City players who were running through.  Unfortunately, City managed to score, however Dragons kept their heads up and managed to equalise through ROBERTS before half time.

There was the same intensity from City after the break and again, Dragons worked very hard to make sure they were covering their players.  Ben HARVEY and John IVES did well on the wings, and gave City something to worry about.  Ali SMYTH and Will KIRBY also made some lovely passes and were causing trouble in the City area.

It was John IVES who took Dragons into the lead, slotting in a rebound from the City keeper.  City didn’t give up and received short corner after short corner.  They managed to equalise with less than 10 minutes to go after a strong run from one of their forwards.

With 5 minutes left, Dragons got the ball through to ROBERTS, who calmly spun round and rolled the ball across the goal, into the far corner, giving Dragons a 3-2 lead.  A few more City short corners ensued the final minutes were tense, but with the Dragon defence held out, leaving Dragons with their first points of the season so far.

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

A Dragons 4 team, much changed by injury and non-availability, could muster just 11 players for their trip to IES 4.  The team boasted a mix of youth and experience, with only Nick TURNER somewhere in between.

With only two regular defenders in Dave PENTIN and Neil SHORTEN available, Max LAMING and Will IVES joined them at the back, in front of Chris MILLAR in goal.  In midfield, Rob JENKINS was joined by Raunaq RAI, making his first appearance for the 4s, Rob CHANEY-BAXTER and the aforementioned TURNER.  Leading the line, Adie KEMP was partnered by Andy CROSS.

The opening exchanges saw both teams doing their best to play a passing game.  Dragons kept their shape well, with the wide players, CHANEY-BAXTER and TURNER attacking effectively down the flanks. CHANEY-BAXTER persevered all afternoon against some strong tackling from the IES winger, beating him a number of times with some good stick skills, whilst the athleticism and tenacity of TURNER earned Dragons several short corners as he chased down balls played to the IES goal line.

It was from one of these short corners, accurately pushed out by CROSS, that KEMP gave Dragons the lead with a well struck shot.  Man of the Match, Raunaq RAI belied his diminutive size to run rings around the IES players and whilst demonstrating some excellent individual skills, also tackled back and distributed the ball well. Captain JENKINS played the holding midfield role and reduced the IES attacking threat through some tight marking and timely interceptions.  In defence, PENTIN and SHORTEN were as solid and reliable as ever, whilst LAMING and IVES adapted brilliantly to their unfamiliar positions, offering the wide option as Dragons played out from the back, marking tightly and making numerous well timed tackles.  Goalkeeper MILLAR made several good saves and important clearances.

IES earned several short corners themselves and equalised with a deflected shot from one of these.  Half time came with the game tied at 1-1.  A quick and encouraging round of team talks, accompanied by distribution of Jelly Babies saw Dragons raring to restart the game.

The game became rather more combative in the second half and the sheer passion and commitment of various Dragons players saw three green cards issued.  A second Dragons goal came from KEMP via another great short corner strike, but after shipping two late goals last week, Dragons couldn’t feel the game was safe.  With about 10 minutes to go, CROSS made the score 3-1, volleying home from close range after IVES’ cross was deflected into the air.

Dragons shut up shop and were comfortable in repelling the IES attacks until the end of the game.  A lovely bowl of chilli rounded off a thoroughly satisfying afternoon for the Dragons and whilst RAI was voted MoM, it could easily have been awarded to any of the 11. 

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

Dragons Men’s 5th team took to the pitch in a buoyant mood on Saturday after their win the previous week over Pelicans, this week they took on an older and wiser Norwich City VI team.  Dragons had most of the possession and controlled the middle of the pitch well for the whole game, but the problem came at both ends of the pitch where the home side managed to only convert 1 goal (Andy Key) from numerous attempts and let 5 in at the back.  Charlie Nunn put in Player of the Match performance.  Dragons felt that losing 5-1 was not a fair reflection of the game that was played in good spirits with even teams and therefore the home side aim to bounce back next week.

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 2-4 Dereham 5 (Awarded as 5-0 win to Dragons)

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons : Slip Date

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 4-0 Watton