NDHC League Match Reports: 26/11/2016

Women’s East Hockey League Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 1s 3-2 Old Loughts 1

The Dragons travelled down to Old Loughts on Saturday, eager to reclaim 2nd position in the league table. The ladies started strongly and dominated the early stages of the game and with their quick and accurate passing, put pressure on the opposition defence. Both Captain King and Coach Thomas had emphasised the need to remain calm and not panic if that first goal didn’t come immediately, and the team took heed of that advice. Sophie Mullan was making dangerous runs down the left and the forward line of Rachel King, Hayley Toleman and Aoife Lowe-Davies were combining brilliantly to attack the opposition D. Eventually, the patience bore fruit and King won a penalty corner. An initial straight strike from King was deflected off a defender, but Toleman who had been lying in wait, deftly put the ball past the keeper.

The Dragons kept much of the possession but a break away attack from Old Loughts earned them a penalty corner. The initial strike was blocked but the subsequent shot took an unfortunate deflection and rattled past Siobhan Cleeve in the dragons’ goal, taking the score to 1-1. As the half time whistle approached, the Dragons were looking to reclaim the lead, but again, a breakaway attack down the right-hand side found its way past the defence and the opposition scored just before half time, taking the score to 2-1.

Dragons came out fighting in the second half however, and the team once again dominated possession and controlled play. The defence of Sarah Jenkins, Lou Murray, Jess Bennett, Holly Reding and Sophie Thomas looked assured and confident as they moved the ball around the back. Any attacks were swiftly dealt with and Cleeve expertly repelled any shots. With some penetrating surges forward from Bennett, Dragons were on the attack again, creating many chances. After some excellent combination play between Murray, Lara Taylor and Aoife Lowe-Davies, Dragons won a penalty corner. They chose to pull out the trademark and highly confidential move that has so often resulted in goals this season and King finished clinically to move the game to 2-2.

From this point on, Dragons had control of the match, they just needed to find that winning goal. Once again, slick passing and a combination of play down the left-hand side fed the ball to King, who with great skill dribbled in to the D, found the waiting Lowe-Davies who slotted it calmly past the keeper and Dragons took the lead.

This was an assured performance from a team who are growing in confidence week by week. This week’s victory takes them to joint 2nd place in the league and with a crunch match against Wapping next week, there is all to play for.

Women’s East Hockey League Division 1N
Norwich Dragons 2s 1-0 Bury St Edmunds 1

The sun was shining, the Bury music was blasting and the teams were ready for this ‘6’ pointer at the Den. Despite a couple of late call off’s and 3 players bravely taking to the field with broken fingers, the home squad was looking strong and they welcomed Hollie Limmer and Olivia Thomas into the squad – Olivia one of those playing with a broken finger.

Early play was with the Dragons, with the midfield working hard to win possession and feed the forwards. A few chances were created, notably one from a swift move from Gail Thomas in midfield, finding Laura Ward who beat a couple of players and fed Issy Wolfe, who had made a strong run into the D, however her reverse stick effort went narrowly wide. Another excellent effort was created and executed by the speedy Laura Ward, picking the ball up from deep, beating defenders and taking on the Keeper but firing her shot just wide of the far post. Dragons earned short corners but once again,  could not quite find the target.

Olivia Thomas was creating pressure with her tricky stick skills and strong runs, supported by Ally Windsor-Waite on the right who was pushing up from the back. The home defence needed to be on their guard however, with Bury looking dangerous on the break. Sarah Borrett was having another commanding game in the middle of defence, alongside Karen O’Neill-Simpson, Ally Windsor Waite and Hollie Limmer. Helen Busfield and Gail Thomas were battling hard to provide both attacking and defensive cover, doing a lot of running up and down the flanks. From one Bury short corner, Dragons keeper Emma Cleland was forced into action with a good save high to her right from a drag-flick effort. The half finished goalless, despite Dragons having had the run of the play.

The game was always going to be tight, with both teams battling for supremacy. Dragons’ Player of the Match Donna Vaughan was breaking down play in the middle and looking to feed the forwards, supported by the ever willing runs from Hannah Phillips and Olivia Thomas. Again Dragons created their chances, both from short corners and in open play, but they just weren’t getting the breaks.

With time running down, and Dragons pushing for the win, a chance came, with Laura Ward feeding Hannah Hardy on the baseline, her pull back found Issy Wolfe who had again found good space on the P spot, however the keeper saved her effort. The home team continued to force the play and with Hollie Limmer breaking down play on the left the left, the ball was forced into the D, Hannah Hardy picked it up, with her back to goal, turned and forced the ball goalwards with a lifted push, which evaded the defenders and the keeper at the near post.

With 5 minutes to go, and the team elated, Bury then threw everything at Dragons, and to a player and as a team, Dragons defended for their lives, knowing how important the 3 points were. Dragons had dominated the game in terms of possession, but hadn’t made the most of their chances and know they need to be more clinical in front of goal, however the 3pts were well deserved and lift the team to the lofty heights of 3rd from bottom. Next week they welcome run-away league leaders Cambridge City to the Den.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Premier Division
Norwich Dragons 3s 4-0 Dereham 3

Having been greeted by a frozen pitch the week before Dragons were please to find a clear (and surprisingly warm) November morning hailed them at their home ground. Conscious it was their first game for 14 days the team had a rousing team talk followed by an intense warm up, ready to get their heads in the game from the get go.

The leaving words of coach Flatman before crossing the fence to help the 4’s was “go hard for the first 10 and the rest of the game will follow”. Well the 3’s didn’t disappoint. Dereham may have won the push back but that was the end of their fortune for this game. Within two minutes of Dereham pushing pack, not even making it into the Dragons defending 25, the home side won the ball and drove hard down the right. Katie McKenna passing to Sam Franklin who in turn deflected the strong cross to a waiting Caroline Wolfe. Wolfe pounced on the airborne deflection striking the ball to the left post and in off the keepers pads.

Play reset and once again Dragons went hunting. This time winning their first of many, many short corners. The first hitting a Dereham foot giving Dragons a second try. This time Natasha Falzon injected the ball to Wolfe who slipped it left to Sian Lawrie. A quick cross behind the Dereham runners found Debs Smith who in plenty of space took aim and scored Dragons second.

Ten minutes into the game Dragons started to settle, passing the ball across the pitch, creating neat triangles around the opposition to carve their way up the pitch time and again. A deft pass from POM Smith to a calling Hazel Sumner on the left enabled Dragons to force their way once again into the Dereham 25. With a bullet like pass into the D Lawrie deflected the ball across the face of the goal where a waiting McKenna tapped it past the beaten Dereham keeper.

Following half time Dragons continued their pressure. Any opposition attempt towards the Dragons goal was promptly intercepted and closed down. Maintaining possession the Dragons continued to compress play within the attacking half. Dereham feet continued to attract the ball giving away what seemed an endless succession of short corners at times. Finally Dragons capitalised from a rebound on the keepers pads. Harriet Green on the reverse slotting the ball between the keeper’s legs.

The game concluded 4:0, another solid 3 points for the Dragon side and two games to go until the midpoint of the season.

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

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 5s 1-2 Dereham 4

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 6s 1-3 Herlings

Ladies 6s played a very strong game against Herlings given the grass pitch and the chilly autumn conditions. We started off the game playing downhill and we had first push back and this enabled us to score quickly putting us in the lead. However, we then struggled to gain any more of an advantage but we battled hard and our strong mid-field pushed the ball up the pitch but the lack of people in the D meant we stayed at 1-0. Aditi played really well on the wing and was able to make some amazing runs and interceptions, this paired with Hannah Edward’s fearless interceptions of some strong hits from the oppositions meant our mid-field played really well. Although we played really well throughout the first half we struggled with coming towards the ball as we weren’t expecting it to slow down at the rate it did but given the grass pitch this was only to be expected.

The coming of the second half meant we were attacking uphill and Herlings used this to their advantage as they scored all three of their goals. This paired with multiple short corners for the opposition lowered team morale but we kept fighting. Needless to say this could not have been done without Sue’s amazing energy that always motivates the team. It was in the second half that you could really notice the team pulling together and particular players stood out as driving the team. Ginny, our stand-in captain, won player of the match for some reliable play that meant she was able to lead the defence and push forward the mid. Overall the game became an uphill struggle towards the end but we fought so hard but it all paid off with Herling’s famous homemade teas. In addition, the Herling’s umpire commented on our ‘great sportsmanship’ and ‘lovely spirit’, this is something the entire team took to heart and rewarded our strong game.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 7s 1-2 Magpies 7

Another bright but frosty morning saw Dragon 7 take on Magpies 7. After an inspection by Dragons and Magpies, both sides were pleased that the pitch had thawed in time for the scheduled push back.

Dragons defence was put under pressure from the start. POM Ruby Rose-Turrell had an outstanding match, tackling Magpies attacks and getting great hits up the pitch. Hattie Gale also had a good match, with Emma North stopping some strong hits from getting to GK Sarah Sheffield, although Sarah made multitudes of great saves, remaining unfazed with any attacks. Dragons midfield had their work cut out trying to get the ball past Magpies to the forwards. Stevie Spencer worked hard on the left, working well with Jess Vernon at top of the diamond. Maisie Dearmer on the right also worked hard, getting the ball to the rotating forwards of Katrina Speirs, Claire Stuart, Mia McGhee and Katie Moulson. Unfortunately, the well drilled Magpies with their strong hits and fast runners proved too difficult to stop and became 2:0 at the end of the first half.

During the half time break, Dragons were reminded by captain Claire Fairhurst to maintain their shape and to mark the opposition. The second half saw an improvement by Dragons, and they managed to hold Magpies at bay, not allowing any more balls into the goal. With 2 minutes left, Dragons were attacking Magpies goal, but their strong defence kept thwarting each one, until a lovely shot by Jess at the top of the D slipped past the keeper into the corner of the goal. Dragons were buoyed up, wanting to score again in the last remaining seconds but they just couldn’t get there. Final score 2:1 to Magpies.

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 3
Norwich Dragons 8s 1-0 Carrow 2

The 8s modestly described this performance as ‘awesome’ because they were so happy to record a win after  setbacks in recent weeks. Some key players were not available, not least their inspirational captain Katy Cole, and with Emily Roper taken ill, they were one kicker short of a keeper. But this was a week when everything that looked wrong went right…

First up, Jo Baker took on the captain’s role and she really galvanised her squad. In fact, only having 12 players helped the team play themselves in and establish themselves in position. The defenders were first to settle, with Jo rock solid in the centre, Anna Chapman picking up everything on the left and Johanne Steward on the right having her best game of the season so far, making some critical tackles.

Carrow made their intentions clear and won a penalty inside three minutes. Goalkeeper Bridget Le Good kicked the ball up to the halfway line and confidence began to flow through the team. The forwards were having a spree, ably backed by the mids who were in attacking mood. Dragons attacked in waves, but lacked the killer blow until Jemima Dorman scored an excellent debut goal, nutmegging the keeper and with Gemma Ballard doing a neat job distracting the defence as she ran through. This was midway through the first half, and Sophie Drew, Alice Bishop and Louise Brooksy Brooks all made excellent runs without having any luck..

All this attacking whizz sometimes left the Dragons exposed, and Bridget was by far the busier keeper. But, as well as the secure play of Anna, Jo and Johanne, Esme MacKinnon-Evans had an outstanding game at the bottom of the diamond. She was asked to close-mark Carrow’s most dangerous forward, and she did this task brilliantly and consistently – and still had enough breath left to distribute the ball beautifully. Liberty Townsend grew in confidence  when Jo moved her into a more attacking midfield role. She normally terrifies her peers with her runs in training, and she brought more of this into her game in the second half. Anita Mancini made a welcome return to the top of the diamond and impressed with her calm distribution, her ability to block some fierce attempted through balls and some neat passing moves.

The 8s were guilty of wasting their penetration into the circle, and so they did not create the clearcut shooting chances that would have put the game beyond doubt. As it was, in this very enjoyable end-to-end game, a sporting Carrow side always looked as though they might spoil the party  – except Bridge was determined to keep a clean sheet. Despite having her kickers on the wrong feet, she somehow managed to achieve ‘one off the bucket list’ and was POM.

Jo created  terrific team spirit and every player had an awesome game. Dragons played without the silly mistakes that have spoiled their performances in recent weeks, and look forward to a massive training session on Wednesday to prepare themselves for UEA, their final game in the first half of the season.

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 5-0 March Town 1 (CW)

Mens East League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 2s 0-2 Bury St Edmunds 1

Men’s East Hockey League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 8-0 Ipswich Cranes 1

This game was advantage to Dragons from the start, with Ipswich Cranes starting with 10 players due to a diversion on the A140.  Dragons pushed high and had chance after chance in the first 10 minutes.  A couple of short corners came close, and it was a third which saw Lloyd SAYER slip the ball across to Tom VAUGHAN who opened the scoring.

Ipswich went to 11 players and Dragons actually started working even better as a team.  They worked well off the ball and constantly kept Cranes under pressure.  The Dragon defence were looking sharp and dealt with any attacks, clearing the ball, leading to another Dragon attack.  Dragons got another goal through Tom VAUGHAN before half time.

The second half saw Dragons continue their domination, and it wasn’t long before the floodgates opened and goal after goal went in.  Tom VAUGHAN gained another 3 goals, and bagged himself Man of the Match.  Max LAMING caused a lot of problems for Ipswich and was rewarded with a goal himself.  Another 2 goals came for Will KIRBY, one of which was a tasty top corner flick.

Men’s East League Division 4NE
Norwich Dragons 4s 1-0 Bury St Edmunds 4

Yesterday’s match saw the 4’s travel to a strong Bury side on a glorious morning. An early start for the team, no one feeling it as much as Jack O’Meara who had been working the night shift. Despite the icy pitch and a few quick breaks from Bury, the team managed to hold at 0-0 going in to half time. The second half came. While both teams were moving it around, Bury’s counter attacks never seemed to trouble our solid defence. Peter Davison, John Price, Will Ives and Andy Carver holding it together at the back.  Where Bury did manage to get a shot on target, Chris Millar made some good saves.  Both teams had well organised midfields, which brought the game to a standstill at some points. It would have taken a single goal to steal the game; it was a tight battle.

Deep into the second half, it was clear to see Bury were becoming frustrated and starting to feel the pressure the Dragons were piling on them. Link up play from Garnett Jones, Rob Jenkins and Pedro Goss was starting to rattle the opposition. One quick counter did it for the Dragons; catching the tiring home side out. As Jon Chaney Baxter played it to Garnett down the right side, Bury scrambled back but to no avail. With the pass from Garnett across the D to Pedro lurking at the back post; he kept his composure to sweep it into the keeper; past the 4 Bury defenders; off the post and finally into the goal making it 1-0 for the better.

With only five minutes remaining, the team had to keep focus and keep Bury out. With the help of Nick Turner – MOM – we slowed the game down to secure the three points.

A real team effort with everyone playing their part. The balance of play was even but we managed to take the win away from an organised Bury side. We were again just the better side on the day.

Men’s East League Division 6NE
Norwich Dragons 5s 0-1 Norwich City 6

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 0-3 Ipswich Cranes 2

Another tough game for Norwich Dragons 6s as we hosted Ipswich Cranes 2 at home at the Den. In a similar manner to last week at Newmarket, we played an opposing team with four players playing down from their usual team in Division 4NE, to Division 7NE where we play. Although acceptable under league rules, it caused us problems in the midfield and we found it difficult to break out and into the Ipswich third of the pitch. It became clear early on in the first half that the two Ipswich centre forward were going to be the biggest cause for concern as they adopted a very high, single front runner which meant that he needed to be man marked to try and keep his influence on the game to a minimum. This tactic worked for a while but soon their quality became clear and Ipswich pulled ahead 1-0 from open play.

Dragons continued to try and get the ball moving around in an attempt to play wider out on the wings and get round the Ipswich midfield rather than through it. There were some good passages of play with Jordan Hambling and Sam Nutt making some determined runs up the right wing to release the ball to forwards Andrew Cross (making a guest appearance in the 6s) and Ed Crosier.  Unfortunately, this was to no avail as following a series of short corners to Ipswich, they scored a second, with a shot from their centre forward at close range. A stick deflection from Graham Muff not enough to stop the ball going into the back of the net. After a round of rolling substitutions towards the end of the first half, Dragons started to get their passes to work more effectively but went into the half time break still 2-0 down.

During the half time talk, 6s captain Mike Banham changed some players around in their positions with the intention of getting the Dragons midfield to increase the chances of breaking through at the Ipswich end and hopefully get onto the score card. These changes did make a difference, and with Ray Hansell and Shiv Kapur continuing to provide the vital service of the ball into midfield and further up the pitch, things started to look brighter for Dragons. This resulted in a number of times when we were applying pressure in the Ipswich D, with chances close in on goal, which unfortunately did not end up in the back of the net. This pressure of Dragons player numbers up into their final third unfortunately led to a breakaway mid-way through the second half and Ipswich extended their lead to 3-0. This was against the run of play at that point and was somewhat unfortunate for young Freddie Roque in goal, who despite what the scoreline may suggest, played with maturity and a calm head under considerable pressure.

Credit should go to all team members in not letting their heads drop during the last 15 minutes of the match and everyone continued to work hard for a break through, but unlike last week, the goals wouldn’t come. The game finished 3-0 to Ipswich Cranes 2, although I would suggest that without their higher division players, the result would have been much closer. So, let’s keep our heads up and look to go into the Christmas break with a win over our next opponents at the Den, Felixstowe 4s who we beat away on the opening day of the season.

Due to his mature and composed game in goal, man of the match was awarded to Freddie Roque

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons A 4-1 Norwich City

After last week’s victory  against Magpies the pressure was on to beat solid and determined Norwich City. The game started well with Dragons constantly attacking  trying to break through the ruthless City defence. After some good attempts from James Cross, Bobby Sheppard, Arj Puvanachandra, Josh Wiggins and myself (Johnny Taylor). Dragons kept at it and despite two agonizing close goal mouth scrambles, Dragons were yet again denied.

Moving into the 2nd quarter, City and Dragons were tied 0-0. After a series of prolonged attacks from both teams, Dragons made the breakthrough. A strong run up the pitch by Josh, Arj was there to professionally place past the goalkeeper making it 1-0 to Dragons. There followed some solid defending from Harry Brown, Xander Wimmer, Joe Beadman and Edward Cross to stop the ravenous City attack. Shortly after Dragons countered and this resulted in a powerful shot by Josh which took a nick of the defender’s stick and darted into the bottom right corner. That left a fairly happy Dragons side going into the half time break 2-0 to Dragons.

You could tell City’s manager had a strong word with them as in the third quarter they came straight out of the blocks forcing Angus Reid Edwards to make some tremendous saves. After a midfield dual, Arj threaded an exquisite pass through to Bobby who made a calm and composed finish into the bottom left corner.

Once again City started the fourth quarter strong forcing some great saves from Angus. Dragons’ legs started to tire which meant City got a consolation goal. But yet again Dragons were at it again after some great team play between Isaac Diver Hall, Will Bowman and Angus Blazer which led to a superb  finish by James. Despite City throwing everything at it, it just wasn’t enough as Dragons held on to claim an important victory against the determined City side. Final score: 4-1 to Norwich Dragons A Team.

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons B 0-7 Magpies (friendly)

Due to lack of availability, Saturday’s Dev B match versus Harleston Magpies was played as a friendly with us borrowing one player and Will’s Dad, Pete making up an 11.

End to end stuff for the first 3 minutes, and then Magpies took an early lead from open play. We then pulled it together and a long sustained spell around their D, failed to produce a goal.  Caspar Lind and Isaac Diver-Hall displayed some good link up play on the wing.

In the second quarter the game continued with end to end play with Magpies strong defending and hitting us on the break.

Will Mares producing some brilliant defending and Harry Brown sweeping up well. The Magpies keeper produced a good save with his feet to deny Caspar a goal, and Paul Delaiche having a couple of chances which he failed to put in the back of the goal. Alex Wolfe pulled off a couple of good saves, turning it onto the post once and kicking it away on another.

The third quarter started with Toby Drake defending well and attacking down the right wing with Josh Cormack putting some dangerous balls in around the D.  Pete took the ball on the half way line and slid Isaac in on the right wing. No one in the middle to receive it resulted in no goal in this phase.

The end result of this match, in no way reflected the even play in the first three quarters, with fitness and effort equalled by both teams. Only in the last quarter the shape was lost, this led Magpies to what appeared a comfortable victory.

Will Mares was player of the match

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons 2-0 Pelicans

In our match against Pelicans, we won 2-0 with Jemima scoring both goals in the first quarter. Through the third and fourth quarters the Pelicans made some breaks to the goal but the defenders and Tilly  managed to keep them away. The player of the match was Lane for her skills, tackles and overall performance. We all played as a team and there was brilliant individual stick skills. We definitely deserved the win.