NDHC League Match Reports: 25/02/2017

Women’s East Hockey League Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 1s 0:3 Ipswich 1s

Having suffered a painful defeat to Ipswich in the first half of the season, the Dragons were looking to take 3 points from the visiting team. Ipswich though, sitting in second place, proved to be a difficult opposition.

The ladies started strongly, the Norwich defence controlling play. Lou Murray saw that any opposition breaks were dealt with swiftly and alongside Olivia Thomas, dominated play down the right hand side of the pitch, linking effectively with Marie James in the centre.

The teams seemed very evenly matched throughout the first half; possession was shared and the Dragons looked like they might score on the break. Unfortunately, it was the opposition who took their chances clinically in front of goal, taking the lead in the first half.

The second half saw some brighter spells of play for the Dragons. Lara Taylor surged powerfully down the left hand side and created many chances. The crunching tackles of Hannah Philips and Lou Murray ensured that Ipswich couldn’t relax and the home team kept fighting. Dragons lost possession however, around the 23m line, the ball was hammered in to the D and a freak deflection saw it curve over the defence in to the goal behind. 2-0 Ipswich.

Despite the home team’s best effort to counter-attack, with some fine runs from Tabba Tabbrett and Aoife Lowe-Davies, that elusive goal would not come and eventually Ipswich put one more past the Dragons. The match ended 3-0.

Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons 2s 2:3 St Ives 1

Arriving to a cool and blustery St Ives, Dragons squad were facing their 3rd game in 7 days and one which was important to both teams. Dragons having earned a good point against 3rd place Dereham 1’s in midweek, knew they needed to build on this performance. With Laura Ward unavailable, Shelly Seaman stepped up to the forward line for Dragons.

The visitors started the game brightly, forcing a short corner after two and a half minutes. They took immediate advantage, with a sharp routine saw the ball find Donna Vaughan in space who rifled home. Unfortunately the lead didn’t last long, with the home team finding their passing routine and forcing their own short corner after 5 minutes, which too was powered directly into the goal.

Dragons were winning the ball, but on too many occasions giving away possession too easily, but they had their share of attacks and possession. One such attack saw them secure another short corner after 22 minutes, following good work which could easily have seen them awarded a Penalty Flick. Regardless, Dragons worked another good routine and once again Donna Vaughan stepped up – the effort not quite so cleanly struck, but never-the-less the same result. Once again however, Dragons couldn’t hold onto the advantage long enough, as within just 5 minutes a St Ives short corner again found the back of the net.

Short Corners really were the story of the half and in all honestly, the only way either team looked like scoring; with a final short of the half, a well worked effort by Gail Thomas and Hannah Hardy unfortunately hit one of their own players feet, as it headed goal-wards.

The second half got underway, with both teams knowing the importance of the next 35 minutes. It would seem, the 3 games in 7 days had taken its toll on the Dragons or whether it was that St Ives were just that bit more determined and better drilled, but the home team put the pressure on the earned themselves a Penalty Flick, to the surprise of most players on the pitch. It felt like justice was done with Emma Cleland in goal making a fine save. The hope would be that Dragons would be encouraged by this, but they couldn’t turn their possession into any real attacking threat. With just 8 minutes left, St Ives attacked down their right, and despite some valiant defensive work, the ball was forced past the unsighted Cleland.

Dragons Player of the Match Donna Vaughan looked to push the team up, with her strong hits through the strong St Ives press, however there wasn’t the penetration or the numbers getting ahead of the ball to seriously trouble the home defence. The game fizzled and the points were gone. In all honesty, a disappointing performance in what was a key game for Dragons.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 3s 3:0 UEA 2

Dragons made the short journey to UEA this week, and after a commanding team talk by guest captain Tash Falzon (bring back memories from last season) headed out for an extended warm up.  This week saw a much changed team, with Bella Capps debuting, whilst Esme Potter, Charlotte Pounder and Catherine Longe were welcomed back into the fold.

UEA started strongly, holding a lot of the ball and pressing high, this continued pressure lead to a few short corners for Dragons to defend in the opening 10 minutes, all cleared by the defence of Sarah Wagstaff, Carmel Windsor-Waite, Angela ‘Spike’ Murgatroyd and Bella Capps. Dragons then spung into life and when player of the match Charlotte Pounder received the ball on the halfway line with nothing but space in front of her, she drove forward, round an incoming defender and smashed the ball from the top of the D to make it 1-0 Dragons.

This spurred the team on and made Dragons show what they could do, midfielders Hazel Sumner, Debs Smith, Esme Potter and Trish Hagan moving the ball with pinpoint passing, Dragons were holding majority possession leading to shot after shot but unfortunately no goals. This changed when Catherine Longe received the ball on the baseline, and powered it through a near impossible angle to beat the keeper.

Shortly afterwards, Dragons found themselves camped in UEA’s D again, Catherine crossing to Caroline Wolfe who was poised 3 yards out,  deflecting  the ball into the net for a 3-0 half time score.

The second half saw UEA coming through more often and quicker, leading to keeper Kristina Smyth having to make a number of saves. With the positions slightly out of the norm this week, Tash Falzon who was playing up front was very unlucky not to get on the score sheet when her effort right on the inside edge of post was saved with the toe of the diving keepers stick. Dragons forwards continued to be frustrated by the UEA keeper, who had an outstanding game, and despite some excellent play the game ended with nothing further to show for the Dragons, who should be proud of their performance.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 4s 1:5 Dereham 3

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 5s 3:0 UEA 3

In Division 1 the teams in the top half of the table are very close in points, so a win was needed to keep us close to our competitors.  Although UEA 3’s are low in the table we have found sometimes this does not always reflect the team’s performance.  So, the 5’s needed to be strong from the start and play our usual teamworking game.  Many thanks to Claire Fairhurst and Emma North for running the subs in near freezing conditions!!  The 5’s had first pushback, Lynne Price picked up and distributed wide to Aditi Naik who ran the wing and passed in to the D.  UEA were alert and their defence moved quickly to close down play.  The first 15 minutes was a back and forth affair and the 5’s looked a little lacking in their usual energy, running into the opposition and getting intercepted.  Then several attempts on goal buoyed efforts, Fiona Fletcher and Lucy Buxton were picking up balls and working the UEA keeper, who was like tigger rejecting all attempts.  Catherine Matthews was finding space on the right wing and dodging the opposition. Uea didn’t find much space and couldn’t make much progress through Lynne and Vicky Earley the dynamic duo.  Kat Spiers in goal was almost an ice statue as Jemima Williams, Lou Davis and Amy (Feel The) Forse were quick to close down and out skill any UEA forward attempt.  They were also pushing high to give more support and options for play.  Rachael Matthews mastering the left wing working well with Vicky to distribute the ball.  The first goal came from Rachael picking up the ball from Lynne and bringing it into the D, smashed across the D and just poked into the goal corner by Catherine.  Half time called and although we were winning and had about 10 chances on goal we needed to actually score more goals.  With Lynne’s calm words of wisdom we set out with more enthusiasm.

UEA managed to take a chance and get into the D and Kat was quick to kick the ball clear.  Lynne was pressuring the UEA defence by feeding the ball into the D, again Lucy, Aditi and Fiona were working the keeper.  We had a chance on a short corner, Lucy injected the ball, Lynne passed right to Lisa Harwood, who swept it across to the left post, just missed by Lucy who was in a good position waiting for the pick-up.  Our defence again was pushing high and giving support Lou sped up the right wing dodging the opposition and slotted the ball across into the D, where Lisa crossed it to the left post, for a waiting Lucy, who got this one into the goal.  2-0!  The UEA keeper was on fire and stopped a lot of goals, still the 5’ kept attacking, the next goal came when the keeper went to ground and the rebound was crossed to Lucy on the P spot who calm and collected again found the back of the goal.  3-0 and another 3 points.  Player of the match was Lou who supported and distributed the ball and gave 100% effort.

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

This was always going to be a close game, with North Norfolk being just one place below us in the league and the last game against them resulting in a 0:0 draw. However, the ladies 6s have come a long way since that freezing game in Cromer and with two weeks of solid wins we were feeling confident and strong.

Dragons started well, with some lovely accurate passing along the wings, small triangles enabled us to control pace and allowed the ball to move quickly up the pitch. Good communication between midfield meant Dragons were on the attack straight away, with Anita Mancini and Nicola Robinson (POM) distributing the ball out wide to the waiting wingers who created the space for the forwards to push through the defence. Great runs from Ginny Simkin, Ellie Hipper and Beth Elgood all saw the ball getting close to the goal and Dragons came close to scoring on several occasions.

The first goal came from a short corner that was initially saved, with the ball going out wide, this was picked up and hit straight back at the goal to find the waiting stick of Jemima Dorman, who neatly chipped it into the corner for a goal. North Norfolk tried hard to counter with a couple of quick breaks, but solid communication from keeper Luisa Valentini enabled the defensive line to work as a unit, blocking out players and channelling the ball out. Hannah Woods, Frankie Paul and Kate Atkins all took opportunities to turn the play around and move the ball back towards the opposition’s goal.

The second half saw Dragons continuing to apply pressure, this time mixing up play, varying between using the wings and cutting into the middle, this switching of play enabled us to take the upper hand and take control of most of the play. Lizzie McDonnell had a couple of lovely shots on goal, but a very handy keeper was able to save them on the line. The second goal came from Mia McGhee, a lovely sweep of the ball passed the keeper who had already gone down to save a shot from the top of the D.

North Norfolk found some lovely play towards the end of the second half and made some great runs, putting Dragons on the back foot. A solid effort from all was required to stop them scoring. Some great backing up from Rosie Skipp and Lilly Sore in midfield made sure that the score remained 2:0 when the final whistle blew. A lovely, friendly game that was enjoyable to play and saw the Ladies 6s make it 3 wins in a row.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 7s: No Fixture

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 8s 0:1 Loddon 2

Drat! Everything was set up for the 8s exactly as they wanted it, but in a close fought game they lost by a single goal, a penalty flick. The 8s had perhaps their strongest team available; a 13-player squad and a manager to run the subs, but despite hard work by everyone and some good passing hockey, it just didn’t work out.

The 8s are just on the edge of putting a very good game together, and as always played to give every team member plenty of encouragement and it was a very enjoyable contest – a bit frustrating that they  can’t just nail that win.

For the first quarter, the 8s tended to play without width, and with too many players in the middle, there were times when they were unsure of who was going for the ball. This is partly due to the fact that although the 8s had some good players, they do not play together, and the two-week break took its toll.

However, some constructive shouting from Katy Cole and Jo Baker got the Dragons into order, and Louise Brooksy Brooks on the left began to get Gemma Ballard away. Alice Bishop was pushed wider out right and had more room to use her speed.

This week, the defenders had Jo Baker central, who set a fine example of how to block the through ball and then send it out to a Dragon. Johanne Steward was on the right, Jess Lockwood, Anna Chapman  were in the rotation and Tracy Stuart-Sheppard was particularly strong at the bottom of the diamond and distributed some good balls.

Dragons were eager to score, and the defence and mids pressed on. But Loddon were very good on the counter-attack. Striking their passes a little more firmly on average than the Dragons they had a couple of forwards very capable of picking up the through passes and bi-secting the 8s defence. Dragons were playing well when an umpire spotted just a touch of ‘back of stick’ and awarded a penalty flick. Ali Pellegrini reached it but could not keep it out, and that was the winning goal. After that, Ali was on fire throughout the match and kept Dragons in the game. Standing tall, time and again she did enough to force the Loddon forwards into failing when they were clean through on goal, and she was the Dragons’ POM.

The close-passing game was serving the 8s well, with Brooksy and Gem building their understanding on the left and with Alice feeding Katy  and Lois Metcalfe on the right. But, this was yet another game where what was lacking was the incisive/decisive pass into the circle, and the link play between mids and forwards needs improvement. The Dragons gained no penalty corners and only a couple of longs, and in that they were unlucky because they had plenty of possession in the middle of the park. Nic Harrison was back again at the top of the diamond and impressed with her stamina and her tackling.

Practice in training showed improvement in three areas that the Dragons can be pleased with. The free hits are coming along, especially when Jo or Bridget Le Good take them. The 8s are definitely getting better and quicker at resetting all over the pitch, and their W presses worked well.

However, the football feet were back this week and we definitely need to work on being ‘first to the ball’ in all areas. Our marking was inconsistent. The 8s have a very good short passing game, but do need to work on firmer strokes. We were very grateful to Claire Fairhurst for running the subs for us, and the experiment of giving the mids 7 minutes worked well. Thanks also to Em North for all the support and lots of lovely productive analysis  by the team at teas afterwards. Come on 8s, we can get this win we want so much..

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 1:2 Dereham 2

Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 3:3 Ipswich 2

Men’s East Hockey League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 5:2 Pelicans 3

Men’s East League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 2:1 Newmarket 2

Missing their captain Rob Jenkins who was away with his agent at the newly formed Chinese Hockey league the team took to the field knowing a win would almost guarantee their league status for another year.

To a man the team put in a massive effort and constantly pushed and probed the Newmarket defense with some good attacking hockey. One such move saw new recruit Aaron Curtis smash a reverse hit shot passed the diving keeper to make it 1-0. We kept on pressing and harrying and put their defense under more pressure – maybe a little too much as par as Jono C-B was concerned who earned himself a green card!

Newmarket grew into the game and started to attack with greater resolve. Inevitably a goal resulted and we went into the break all tied.Encouraging words spoken and we started the second half determined to come away with all three points. It was quite an eventful with one of our most experienced players being wiped out and having to leave the field of play. Rob later went to A&E who confirmed his season is over and is now in a sling!.

Not to disappoint Rob we took it upon ourselves to try and win an excellent running and determination from Connor Adams meant Aaron could score his second.

A good effort and result by the whole team but their could only be one man of the match – Nick Turner who controlled the midfield all match.

Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 0:2 Felixstowe 3

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 5:1 Bury St Edmunds 7 (friendly)

A short but ultimately sweet write up from the Dragons Mens 6 team this week. As this was a slip week for the 6s due to the odd number of teams in the 7NE, a friendly was arranged against Bury St Edmunds 7. Although we had played this non-league team before, they were always a well turned out squad and well coached by the staff at Culford School and the Bury club. The 7s are also joining the league next season so this was another valid test of the Dragons 6s.

We took a squad of 12 to the match and were looking forward to another strong result. Right from the off it looked very much like Dragons were the stronger team and we quickly settled in to a rhythm of possession and movement, camping for long periods in the Bury half. Every so often Bury would break out for their half and had some pace on the ball to run it though to our circle. Nearing the end of the first half Bury made one of their occasional probes into our final third and after some neat play slotted in a goal. Although completely against the run of play this was taken their stride by all of the Dragons team, as they knew that we had dominated so much of the first half that it was only a matter of time before we started scoring. And this is how is subsequently turned out.

After a half time discussion and re-assurance that if we stuck to the plan that we would be able still be able to come away with a result, the second half commenced.

Almost from the off, playing with the same assurance and style of the first half the goals started to come for Dragons 6s. The midfield section of Owain Hall, Jordan Hambling, Tommy Chapman and Harrison Richards were working well, both in support of the forwards, Andy Key, Rob Lee and Ed Crosier, and in their own individual runs into the Bury circle. This resulted in two goals each in quick succession for both Harrison Richards and Rob Lee. Rob with some great movement directly in front of goal and Harrisons weaving runs into and through the Bury defence with assured ball control. While the flood gates were opening at one end, the Bury team continued to push into the Dragons half which resulted in Tommy Chapman picking up a painful looking split lip after collecting a Bury stick in the face. Although he had to go off injured, subsequent checks showed there was no permanent damage. This led a quick reshuffle with Andy Key dropping back to support the defensive line of Ray Hansell, John Butler and Jack Carpenter. As always the defence were having a great game with a solid wall and good vison moving the ball out of defence into the midfield. Our goalkeeper Freddie Roque, playing his first adult away game, showed how much potential he has by pulling off a couple of top quality saves. One from a high Bury ball which he palmed away confidently and then in the last 10 minutes making a fantastic save at full stretch to tip the Bury ball off his foot, on to the post for it to be cleared away.

With Dragons still pressing hard, Harrison Richards stepped up and took the opportunity to score his hat trick from open play. This sealed the match and also won Harrison Man of the Match from the team vote.

The game finished in a satisfying win for Dragons 6 and was the second game on the trot where we have scored 5 goals. A real credit to all the team and sets up the return league game with Newmarket 3 nicely next week. With the home advantage, this scribe is hopeful that we can overturn the away result and show just how far we have progressed as a 6th team squad.

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons A 8:0 Norwich Dragons B

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons B 0:8 Norwich Dragons A

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 2-0 Watton

The match started off well with the ball mostly in our possession and some good clearing from the defenders. We needed more movement upfront in order to get a goal and there was lots of work around the outside of the D but not much inside. In the second quarter both the Charlottes worked well together to get the ball into the D with Sophie Barrow making sure it was always upfront. We got a few short corners and Charlotte Knight set the ball up perfectly for Charlotte Carr to score. During the third quarter an early goal by Becca James gave us more confidence and the ball stayed upfront. The defenders made sure that not many could get past and Stella made some excellent clears. During the last quarter we got many short corners but sadly none of them went in. The ball stayed up our end mainly the whole game with an occasional breakaway from the opposition. Well done to everyone who played.

Girl of the game: Charlotte Knight

England Hockey u14 Girls Midlands League 4
Norwich Dragons 2-8 City

We had a tough game on Sunday; we played Norwich city and unfortunately lost 8-2.

We kicked the game off with a fantastic goal from Connie Scott. However, this was followed by a strong City attack mainly in the dragon’s half but our defense worked extremely hard to keep them out of the goal area. Dragons very quickly gained confidence and matched City’s attacks with exciting end-to-end hockey.

City’s persistence earned them two quick goals.

There was great teamwork between Lucy Buxton and Mid-Field in the D, creating tension on the sidelines but unfortunately it was a very near miss.

City’s 3rd and 4th goal came from two short-corners.

Our second goal was scored shortly before half time, great teamwork and passing in Mid-Field finished of by Harriet Marlee.

Dragons maintained pressure around the Goal but could not get the ball into the net, finishing the first half 7-2 down.

Despite 5 goals down, Dragons came back out in the second half wanting to win as always! Playing a more determined game and continuing the end to end excitement of the first half , dragons were able to demonstrate how evenly matched both teams were, by only conceding one goal to City.

Today, even though it was hard, we played really well!! Player of the match was Harriet Marlee. Well done everyone!!!

By Tanzin Sisterson