Sevenoaks 1 Harleston Magpies 5
England Hockey League
Men’s Conference East
HARLESTON travelled away to Sevenoaks, who before play were at the bottom of the league but still had all to play for as with two games to go were hopeful of overhauling St Albans in ninth position only two points ahead of them. If Sevenoaks were able to overhaul them to finish in ninth they would enter into a play-off situation. Magpies on the other hand before play were situated in seventh, were hoping to push higher up the league aiming for a higher league finish than last season.
The away side started brightly, soon slipping into their stride passing the ball around well which in turn forced the home side onto the back foot during the opening 10 minutes. Sevenoaks were trying to break quickly if Harleston made any errors but they were unable to break through the sturdy Harleston defence. Sevenoaks did then start to build some pressure onto the away side but again the away side were able to defend well restricting them to very limited chances. This only played into the away sides hands as Sevenoaks left themselves short at the back as Andrew Hipwell burst forward surging into the ‘D’ lashing the ball across to Will Martin who applied the finishing touch making it 0-1 to Harleston midway through the half. This spurred Harleston on as they once again resumed control of the game passing the ball well. This pressure soon saw more chances for Harleston as they looked to extend their lead further. As half time approached they won a short corner which Gareth Furlong converted from making it 0 -2. The final stages of the half continued with the away side looking to create more openings.
At the start of the second half Sevenoaks started to throw extra players forwards trying to get themselves back into the game as their whole season hung on the result. Harleston knew the next goal was important and continued to push them forward at every chance looking dangerous as Sevenoaks again looked short at the back on occasion. The next goal was scored by Harleston, as Andrew Hipwell finished from close range following a well-worked move by the away side making it 0-3. Magpies then turned the screw further making it 0-4 when Gareth Furlong scored. Sevenoaks did rally getting one back with a powerfully stuck reverse stick shot sneaking past Richard Harms pulling one back making it 1-4. Richard Harms was then called into action again making a couple of smart saves as Sevenoaks piled men forward. This also led to a couple of short corners the second of which a penalty stroke was awarded to Sevenoaks offering them a life line in the game. It was missed as the ball crashed the inside of the post bouncing along the charmed Harleston goal. Harleston took this as a serious warning upping their game once again. Andrew Hipwell worked himself space down the left before cutting in and slotting calmly past the advancing Sevenoaks goalkeeper to totally kill any last ditch hopes for the hardworking Sevenoaks side.
These three points pushed Harleston up into fifth position in the league and cleared any lingering doubt that they’d be drawn in by the teams below them fighting against relegation.