NDHC League Match Reports: 31/10/2015

Women’s East Hockey League East Prem
Norwich Dragons 1s 4-2 Broxbourne 1

Norwich Dragons travelled to Broxbourne determined to bounce back from a disappointing result last week against league leaders West Herts.

The team welcomed 15 year old  Aofie LOWE-DAVIES for her well deserved debut for the first team after some outstanding performances for the second team.

Dragons started the more spritely of the two teams putting Broxbourne defence under some early pressure. Some great attacking play and passing from right defender Holly REDING and central defender Louise MURRAY caused Broxbourne some difficulties but the play broke down in the attacking 25 as the Dragons failed to find that final pass to capitalise on their possession.

After penetrating the home side for long periods the breakthrough finally came, a through ball by MURRAY finding Rachel KING who dribbled the ball from the half way line and great movement by the forwards Hayley TOLEMAN, Stacey LEE and LOWE-DAVIES taking the defenders wide afforded her the space to drive all the way and finishing in style from the top of the circle scoring a great individual goal.

Credit to Broxbourne who battled well throughout and did not let their heads go down retaliating just before halftime to bring the scoreline level.

The second half the Dragons took the lead again some good link up play between Marie JAMES and MURRAY  found LEE on the top of the circle who took the ball to the baseline pulling it back for TOLEMAN to finish. Dragons then switched off momentarily and were immediately punished from a break away by the home side who once again pulled the match level.

Dragons continued to work hard and a second goal from KING and fourth from young dragon Olivia THOMAS gave the visitors all three points.

This  wasn’t the Dragons best team performance but their work rate, determination and team spirit, as always, was never in question. LOWE-DAVIES had a strong first team debut with  a faultless performance and is an exciting talent for the future of this team. REDING too didn’t put a foot wrong and Louise MURRAY continues to put strong performances in week in week out being invincible at the centre of defence and was awarded player of the match for the second week running.

The team look forward to taking on Old Loughts at the Den next week who they have yet to take points from at this level.

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

A beautiful day at the Den welcomed Dragons opponents Lindum all the way from Lincoln for this mid table clash. Dragons were keen to put improve on their previous weeks performance and welcomed Debs Smith back into the 2nd team fold, whilst also giving a 2nd team debut to Laura Goodbun.As in the previous week, Dragons had the best of the early encounters with the ‘two Laura’s’ Goodbun and Shreeve showing their pace and combining well to threaten the Lindum defence. As early as the 14th minute this pressure told, with a smart pass from Pollyanna Watson, finding Laura Shreeve in good space, who drove along the baseline to square the ball for Hannah Hardy to sweep home for an early lead.Unfortunately the home team then sat back a little, and quickly allowed Lindum to force home an equaliser, despite the best efforts of Keeper Amy Forse. This inspired the away team on further and Keeper Amy Forse was forced into a couple of outstanding saves, one particular effort diving full stretch to the far post to push the ball wide. The defensive line of Ally Windsor-Waite, Rowan York-Smith, Sophie Thomas and Karen O’Neill-Simpson continued to battle really hard, however the visitors scored a second before half time.

The second half saw Dragons trying to force the pace with joint Player of the Match, Debs Smith making an excellent return to the squad, with some intelligent running into space, linking up well with midfielders Gail Thomas on the left and Pip Howes and Marcy Windsor-Waite on the right.

Lindum forced a number of short corners, one effort was expertly saved on the goaline by Dragons other Player of the Match Ally Windsor-Waite, picking a rising ball off the line. Unfortunately a further short corner was well converted by Lindum to make the score 3-1. The last 15 minutes saw Dragons really press and they were rewarded with another goal following good work again by Pollyanna Watson, who found Laura Shreeve in the D, who showed composure to lift the ball over the Keeper to make the score 3-2.

Unfortunately for the home team, there were no further clear cut opportunities, and the final whistle went. An improved performance to that of the previous week, but still plenty of work to do, which will need the full squad to continue to work hard together in training.

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

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 1
Norwich Dragons 4s: Slip Date

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 5s: Slip Date

Empresa Norfolk Women’s Division 2
Norwich Dragons 6s: Slip Date

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

Mens East League Division 2N
Norwich Dragons 1s 2-6 Shefford & Sandy 1

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

One trick and a treat for the assembled crowd but ultimately no fairy tale ending to this Halloween thriller.

The old guard were out in force as both Magpies and Dragons fielded strong sides with plenty of experience. The game started at a fast pace and stayed that way for 70 minutes. The large twilight crowd were treated to quick passing and fast breaking hockey as both sides tried to gain the upper hand. Magpies struck first from a dubious short corner that Brooks in goal seemed to have covered. The goal scorer? Hipper, ironically, hitting the ball harder and straighter that his on looking Dragon father does. Dragons advanced once more and secured a series of short corners of their own, but failed to equalise. Then a break, Magpies almost through, the Dragons recovered the ball, then Magpies have it again. Foul cried the home supporters and players as one, but the officials didn’t see it in the gathering gloom and it was 0-2.

Stern but constructive words at half time from talismanic leader Wolfe saw Dragons unleash a second half onslaught in a do or die effort to get the points. Wave after wave of attacks were repulsed as Rutledge, Smith and Moulson commanded the midfield. At the other end Brooks kept goal like a man possessed. Finally the breakthrough. King ghosted around the back and slipped the ball to O’Meara who calmly dispatched his shot passed the onrushing keeper. The tide had turned. Desperate defence saw Magpies concede a series of penalty corners, and a conveyor belt of their players were sent to the naughty seat, but the second goal never came.

At the final whistle, 1-2, and disappointment for the Dragons, but they knew they would play worse and win in games to come.

The crowd drifted off with the mist that shrouded the pitch, full of tales of daring do and what might have been.

Men’s East Hockey League Division 3NE
Norwich Dragons 3s 1-4 Lowestoft Railway 1

Dragons travelled to sunny Lowestoft this week and were hoping to continue their success after their first week last week.

Both teams were slow to start, but it was Lowestoft who picked up the pace first, putting the Dragon defence under pressure.  Keeper Dim IVES was called upon to make some key saves, as he did throughout the game.  Peter DAVISON, Rich PHILLIS and James GOODSON did well to clear the ball and dispossess the Lowestoft forwards.

Forwards Adam SAYER, Ben HARVEY and Oli BROWNE had little to do this half, as Lowestoft pressed well and were cutting out the balls getting through.  Lowestoft took the lead, and not long after, scored another.  Dragons continued to work and were given some pace when Will IVES entered midfield.  Their efforts were rewarded when Oli BROWNE knocked the ball in.  Halftime and it was 2-1 to Lowestoft.

The second half was more even and both teams had a few chances, but Lowestoft took advantage of theirs.  Another two goals and Dragons were 4-1 down.  Tireless work from John IVES, Rob GOODSON, Jon GOODSON, Stu KELLY and Ben HARVEY in the middle opened up play, and Dragons continued to push for goals up until the end.  However it wasn’t to be, and the game finished 4-1 to Lowestoft.  Next week, Dragons host Sudbury at home, in a game that Dragons need to win and get back on track in their campaign.



More photos from this game courtesy of Giles can be seen here.

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

From the first whistle Dragons showed their intent and took an early lead through Adie KEMP who lost his markers at the top of the circle and slotted the ball expertly past the oncoming Magpies keeper.  Both sides had good possession but Dragons had the better chances and should have doubled their lead midway through the half when Andy CROSS unfortunately missed a golden opportunity from close range.  The Dragons defence of Paul KEATING, Andy HIPPER, Neil SHORTEN and debutant Paul KASSULKE dealt effectively, using their experience to good effect against the youthful Magpies forwards.  Half time saw Dragons leading 1-0.

The second period saw Mapgpies coming more into the game with the canny Stuart Peters bossing things in midfield.  This lead to the Dragons midfield of Rob JENKINS, Max LAMING, Nick TURNER, Rob CHANEY-BAXTER and Alberto EMBARDO having to play in a more defensive fashion, though a number of attacking opportunities were still created, including a KEMP short corner strike cleared off the line.

Magpies were slightly fortunate to equalise midway through the half with a scrappy goal and a tense end to the game followed.  The points were shared, but Dragons were left feeling they could have got more from the game.

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

The men’s Vs played an experienced Norfolk Nomads 1 side at the UEA in unnaturally hot conditions for this time of year. The Dragons team were disappointed with the previous weeks result and came out the dugout keen to set the record straight. Some fantastic hockey was played this week with accurate passing and good ball speed which enabled the dragons team to really pile the pressure onto a worried opposition. The first half was all in the opposition’s end and the Dragons scored a well worked goal from attacking down the right finished off by Joel Lawrence at the far post. Nomads managed to get a break away down to Dragons D to be awarded a short corner which dribbled into the goal after a melee of sticks in front of the goal keeper. Half time was 1-1 and that was also the final result. The second half went much more Nomads way with MOM performance from goalie Chris Miller keeping out some determined Nomads forwards. Well played Boys!

Men’s East League Division 7NE
Norwich Dragons 6s 5-2 Felixstowe 4

A committed 11 players took the trip to Felixstowe to ensure that the 4pm fixture was fulfilled, so no Rugby World Cup or Trick or Treating for this band of men. Sporting their away black shirts the team took their inspiration from a similar All Blacks team preparing for their big game.  Unlike the New Zealand variety, the Dragons had to contend with late arrivals thanks to SatNav systems taking several players on a tour of Felixstowe following the East League website postcode!

Thankfully (?) the game before had a significant delay due to a keeper being sent off and kit being passed to another player, so despite only having 9 players just 10 minutes before pushback, without a keeper and one of the forwards, all 11 players were ready to play and fully warmed up when the game finally got underway.

Captain Mike Banham gave the team clear instructions and set up a formation to make the most of the players available.  The team were delighted to have the experience and commitment of David Pentin to hold the central midfield role and the youngsters were interested to see how the one off call ups for the Men’s Club Captain Tom Vaughan and Club President Mike Hardy might help or hinder them!

A solid defensive unit with youth and experience a plenty set up with Mike Banham, John Butler, Rob Lee and Sol Blazer in front of young keeper Ben Nkrumah, all looking to thwart any attack from the homeside.  The midfield trio of Tom Williams, David Pentin and Mike Hardy were looking to provide a service to the forward line of Tom Vaughan, George Bowman and Connor Adams.  Whilst there were no subs on the bench, the support of families on the sideline was much appreciated.

The visitors started well, moving the ball through Pentin and finding the skilful Adams who managed to drive at the opposition with the ball and up front Bowman was busy running the defence ragged linking up well with Vaughan in and around the D.  Williams and Blazer snuffed out any attempts by Felixstowe to attack down their right.

The first goal for Dragons came from Bowman, slotting the ball past the keeper after some further great work from Adams and Vaughan.  This goal lifted the confidence of the whole team soon bringing a second goal thanks to an assist from Pentin for Vaughan to show his skills in the D and slamming the ball home.

A third goal came from the most unlikely source when Hardy drifted very slowly into the opposition D and was picked out perfectly for Pentin’s second assist with a strong angled pass from outside the D to leave Hardy with the simple task of pushing the ball over the line.

It wasn’t all the way of Dragons and with some skilful midfield and forwards, Felixstowe were able to put the visitors under pressure to force a few short corners, one of them resulting in a deflection in front of Nkrumah to bring the halftime score to 3-1 to Dragons.

Banham’s halftime teamtalk asked for the team to remain disciplined in the formation and to make use of Pentin in the middle of the pitch by laying off the ball from the frontline as well as when building from the back.  The skipper also asked Hardy to reset his pitch SatNav and queried how he had managed to find himself in the D as the highest player.

Topped up with water and oxygen, the team took to the pitch knowing that the home side would look to press hard at the start of the second half, and this was the case as the visitors managed to pull back another clever deflected goal from a short corner, the town was clearly delighted with this goal as World Cup style fireworks flew through the air.  This only served to fire up the Dragons because at 3-2 the visitors had no plans to allow Felixstowe to take the prize of 3 points.

The defence were hindered by a slight muscle pull for Butler just before halftime, however the flexibility of this team meant that Lee stepped in to man mark allowing Butler the freedom to roam across the defensive line whilst Blazer continued to snuff out the right winger.  Banham mopped up most attacks, whilst leaving Nkrumah to make plenty of strong kicking clearances and fine glove saves to stop a determined home side.

Any nerves were calmed by the experience of skipper Banham from a short corner when he applied his cricket knowledge to hockey and taking the straight strike he managed to slow the ball down to a dribbling pace which completely confused the opposition.  Another slick short corner routine with a slip right to Adams who fired at the keeper making only a half save and with the desire to be first to the ball of Dragons, Vaughan and Bowman raced on to the loose ball and recognising Bowman was better placed to finish Vaughan made a salmon-like leap to get out of the way as Bowman calmly slotted away.   During this period of pressure from Dragons, Vaughan had an excellent flicked shot touched onto the crossbar by the keeper, unfortunately his follow through injured the barman’s pump pulling arm, resulting in a dry night in Felixstowe!

Dragons could have scored more as the theme of the day continued when the umpire decided to give to the home keeper a ‘rest’ for verbals, however a, by now, weary Dragons team failed to get the ball into the D to make their advantage count.

So the visitors settled for a final score of 5-2 to give the team their first playing win of the season and the second All Black success of the day.

Spirits were high in post-match teas where Connor Adams was voted Player of the Match and the opposition asked if they could play Dragons every week because they had enjoyed the game so much.  Great to see so many players, young and older, wearing their Dragon shirts with pride and ensuring the reputation of the Club is boosted in deepest Suffolk!

Empresa Norfolk Boys Development League
Norwich Dragons: Slip Date

Empresa Norfolk Girls Development League
Norwich Dragons: Slip Date