City narrow gap as Dereham draw 5-5
EAST MEN'S: Dereham had their lead at the top of Premier B cut to just two points after an incredible 5-5 draw at Wisbech.
The visitors had to fight back to secure a point and stay ahead of county rivals Norwich City, who narrowed the gap with a 4-2 victory over Cambridge University II.
Wisbech were first to score but Andy Lawrence soon levelled matters. Wisbech opened a 3-1 lead with goals either side of half-time but Lawrence pulled one back before Ed Turner had an equaliser disallowed.
To rub salt into the wound, Wisbech made it 4-2 only for Mark Timm to pull a goal back and then Chris Vernon restored parity.
Dereham thought they had got the winner with ten minutes to go when Andy Howarth finished off a slick move to make it 5-4 but Wisbech won a debatable flick to leave honours even.
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Norwich City had to work hard for victory over the students of Cambridge who threatened to blow their promotion push off course at a blustery UEA.
The visitors started the brighter and soon found their stride, playing quick, fluid simple hockey to gain the lead.
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With 12 minutes left of the first half, City found a goal when Chris Perry, Alex Scott, Jim Pallister, Jez Elliott and Jake Vincent combined to set up Charlie Horn.
Horn put City ahead from close range early in the second half but Cambridge equalised from a penalty corner.
Cambridge won a couple of short corners but Reece Leonard expertly swatted away attempts at goal and it was City who found the net with 16 minutes to go when Horn fired in from a tight angle.
Norwich put the game beyond the visitors with five minutes left when Stuart Wardle won a short corner and at the second time of asking Norwich found the net, via a huge deflection off Cambridge's sweeper.
Norwich City II are at the heart of the title race in Division Two North after a 2-1 win at leaders March Town. Coupled with second-placed City of Peterborough's surprise 0-0 draw at lowly Ely City, it leaves the Norfolk team just two points off top spot.
Looking to continue their run of good form after three straight wins, City started the game in positive fashion, working the ball through the midfield and building some momentum and penetrating the March D.
Matthew Brine thought he had put City ahead but play was pulled back for an earlier foul.
Thankfully for the visitors, the short corner award resulted in Chris Key putting Norwich ahead when he thundered the ball under the March keeper.
City were firing on all cylinders and it was not long before they doubled their lead with a slightly fortuitous goal. Tom Hindle had expertly carried the ball to the byline and his shot-cum-cross bamboozled the keeper and trickled into the goal.
March pulled a goal back after Norwich had to reshuffle their ranks when Richard Green suffered a nasty thumb injury.
The second half became scrappy but City held out for all the points thanks in part to two good saves from Tom Franks.
Norwich Dragons earned a 2-0 victory from the long trip to Spalding.
Dragons took the lead from a quick break when Browne unleashed an unstoppable strike into the roof of the net.
Wolfe and Snelling went close but Dragons had to wait until the closing stages for Snelling to secure the points.
Norwich City IV missed the chance to take over at the top of the Division 5NE table when they went down 4-1 at Harleston Magpies VI. Norwich City V had beaten leaders Watton 4-2 earlier in the day but Harleston at home proved to be very different opponents than had travelled to play City at UEA earlier in the season.
The hosts were soon 2-0 up and scored a third after the break. A short corner routine led to a well-taken goal from Nigel Cushion but, as City pressed high with a depleted defence, it was Harleston who scored the final goal in the dying minutes.
Norfolk Nomads II remain rooted to the foot of the Division 6NE table but ran visitors Norwich Dragons III close in a 3-2 defeat.
Dragons started this match at a good tempo with some good passing and took the lead when Geoff Roberts was fouled and Mike Banham coolly stepped up to convert the penalty flick. Nomads equalised with a shot past the unsighted Dragons keeper as the first half ended 1-1.
Banham converted a short corner routine to restore the Dragons' lead and the all-important third goal soon arrived when a full-length-of-the-field move ended with Will Kirby feeding his strike partner Adrian Kemp to score.
Nomads pulled a goal back but it was too late to change the result.