Harleston Magpies 3 Indian Gymkhana 2

England Hockey League

Men’s Conference South

HARLESTON went into this game following an away defeat to Oxted which allowed them to climb within three points of Harleston in league position. Magpies knew they need three points to keep themselves from being drawn towards the lower reaches of the league. Indian Gymkhana this season have been transformed into a top four side following last seasons near relegation from the National league so a good game was anticipated at Shotford Heath.

The opening exchanges were good with both sides looking to attack creating an open game and chances at both ends of the pitch. Harleston got the first break through as Gareth Furlong scored from a penalty corner. Magpies continued to pressurise the away side which lead to more chances for the home side as they took control of the first half. Andy Hipwell made multiple surges but with one of particular note leading to him hitting the post from a tight angle.

On 24 minutes Harleston worked the ball into the Gym left hand side of the Dee for Jamie Legg to divert the ball under the disappointed Gym goalkeeper. Harleston were now firmly in control of the game passing the ball around well as half time approached. Magpies took a 2-0 lead at the interval.

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Indian Gymkhana started the second half well straight at the home side trying to get themselves back into the game which they did with immediate affect as Amrit Singh stroked the ball passed Richard Harms in the Magpies goal. Harleston were now on the back foot as Gym sensed a comeback with the score at 2-1 to the home side. The game continued to flow as it did in the first half except this half Gym were pushing to score with Harleston still dangerous on the break. Indian Gym’s progress was halted as continued foul play lead to the away side being reduced to 10 men for five minutes. Harleston pushed Gym back trying to extend their lead once again playing the ball through Gill, Baynes and Hipwell in midfield. Magpie’s task then got harder as they were reduced to 10 men for five minutes. This just made Magpie’s more resilient as Indian Gym pushed once again but without really creating clear cut opportunity. But suddenly they were handed a penalty stroke which was excellently saved by Richard Harms. Harleston were then back to 11 players when suddenly a miss communication between defender and keeper lead to Pravinder Hanspal stealing in on 52 minutes making the scores 2-2. Magpies responded, once again looking dangerous in attack. On 59 minutes Simon and Andy Hipwell combined well before playing in Ben Wright for a running reverse stick shot which blasted the ball low past the helpless Gym keeper. Wright supplied a finish fitting to win any game but there was still much more hard work to come as Harleston were once again reduced to 10 following another yellow card to the same player receiving his second yellow of the game. This meant a 10 minute spell on the side reducing Harleston to 10 for the final nine minutes. Magpies stood firm pulling together brilliantly to keep Gym at arm’s length as Mark Wheelhouse, Richard Harms, Tristan Baynes and the outstanding Stuart Leate, all stand out performers on the day. Harleston Magpies saw out the final stages as Wrights stunning goal had settled the game 3-2 to the home side.

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