Contrasting fortune for Harleston Magpies teams
Harleston Magpies won their double header for the second successive weekend to propel themselves up to fifth in the East Women's Conference.
On Saturday, Magpies won 1-0 at Oxford Hawks and they followed that up with a 1-0 success at Ipswich on Sunday.
Magpies started Saturday's game in confident fashion and Emily Wilford tested the Oxford keeper with an early deflection.
The hosts began to settle and only a well-timed tackle by Lucy Miller – making her second appearance of the season – denied them a sight of goal.
The first half remained goalless, with neither team able to even force a short corner.
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Magpies continued to improve in the second half with Fran Burrell and Lauren Barber combining well to create the first short corner of the match. The subsequent strike was saved by the Hawks keeper.
Magpies were reduced to 10 players on two separate occasions in the second period, but when they were restored to full strength they took the lead in the 59th minute. Angie Wheelhouse won a short corner and Burrell's strike was deflected high into the roof of the net by Palmer – her first goal for Magpies.
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A nervy last five minutes saw Magpies concede a series of penalty corners, but Oxford were unable to break down a determined defence.
On Sunday, Magpies wrapped up their fourth successive league victory when they travelled to Ipswich.
After an even start, Magpies made the decisive breakthrough in the 19th minute. Emily Wilford's penalty corner strike forced the Ipswich keeper to make a diving save, but Lauren Barber seized on the loose ball to score her first National League goal.
Magpies made changes in the second half to maintain their high tempo and Wilford went close to extending the lead when her fierce strike flew just past the post.
The visitors continued to defend well and although they conceded several penalty corners, keeper Charlotte Lee-Smith made some excellent saves to preserve the lead.
• It was a different story at the weekend for Magpies' men, as they suffered heavy defeats against the top two sides to slump to the bottom of Men's Conference East.
Leaders Canterbury were the visitors to Weybread on Saturday, with Magpies missing strike duo Ben Wright and Mark Stacpoole, while Leigh Sitch was coaching the ladies first team.
Canterbury dictated the play from the outset and Reece Leonard was forced into an early save.
The visitors took the lead with a well-worked corner dispatched by Michael Farrer to leave Magpies facing an uphill struggle.
The home side were unable to maintain possession, although they did fashion one good chance which went narrowly wide.
Canterbury doubled their lead before half-time following another corner put away by Farrer and the same player completed his hat-trick after the break.
It became even more difficult for Magpies when David Ling was sent to the sin bin for a mistimed tackle and it was 4-0 when the league's top scorer and ex-England international Dave Matthews found space in the circle to fire home.
Magpies refused to give up and pulled one back when James Fanger broke away and crossed for Simon Hipwell to touch the ball into the net.
Canterbury then retained possession and added a fifth through Matthews.
Stacpoole, Wright and Tommy Graham returned for the visit of Old Loughtonians on Sunday, but could not prevent a 7-1 defeat for Magpies.
A swift break saw Loughts open the scoring after just two minutes through Oliver Didham and Harry Martin added a second before the break.
Stacpoole saw an effort disallowed in the second half and with 10 minutes left, a Magpies short corner broke down and Loughts broke to score their third via Alex Jennings. Didham and Jennings quickly made it 5-0 and although Wright pulled one back with a clever lob after good work from James Fanger, the visitors scored twice more late on.