Old Loughtonians 4 Harleston Magpies 3

England Hockey League

Men’s Conference East

HARLESTON travelled to Old Loughtonian’s with some improved confidence from the point gained last week and also with an almost full strength squad.

Captain Mark Wheelhouse remains in the treatment room but Harleston welcomed back Tristan Baynes and gave a National league debut to new keeper Reece Leonard. The match was played at Chigwell school as the home sides double AstroTurf is being relayed for the Olympic games.

Magpies started the game strongly and played some of the best hockey they have produced this year confidently moving the ball around and also stifling any threat from a home side boasting current England international Harry Martin.

A slick move down the right saw Elliot Smith and Peter Bale set up lead goal scorer Ben Wright who drove into the circle and smashed a crisp strike across the despairing keeper into the net.

Unfortunately the lead didn’t last long and Old Loughtonian’s were level from a well worked penalty corner only a few minutes later. Magpies didn’t panic and continued to press a weak home defence which soon reaped it’s reward.

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This time it came from the left hand side of the pitch with a great final delivery from Man of the Match Andrew Bedwell being brilliantly deflected in by Stuart Leate nutmegging the goal keeper from three yards. Moments later it got even better for the visitors when Mark Stacpoole stole the ball of a hesitant defender racing into the circle and delivering a back hand cross which may have been heading in but Seb Knights made sure, giving Magpies a two-goal cushion.

Magpies continued to work hard and created chances with much frustration for the home side however the short corners they won were not converted and this allowed Old Loughtonian’s to slowly increase their time in possession and create chances.

Soon they were back on level terms when they were able to win two short corners which they converted into the right and then left corners of the goal respectively. 3-3 the score at the midway point.

In the second half Old Loughtonians pressed the away side back into their half but good organisation and hard work ensured the scores remained level. Two yellow cards were given to Magpies players for deliberate breaking down of play on separate occasions but despite this man advantage the home side could not breach the Magpies’ rear guard and new keeper Reece Leonard saved well both off short corners and open play.

The home side were fortunate not to concede more short corners for continual fouling around the circle but the umpire did not oblige and when they won a corner down the other end they again slickly converted to take the lead with four minutes to go. Magpies gave their all to equalise but a missed short corner was all they could manage and when the final whistle blew this hard fought contest was separated by the smallest of margins.

Another much improved performance from Magpies but again they fell just short of taking any points. They must enjoy their week off next week and prepare well for three key games that follow.

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