Norwich City Ladies make winning start to East League campaign

Norwich Dragons were beaten at home by Dereham in their opening game. Picture: Club

Norwich Dragons were beaten at home by Dereham in their opening game. Picture: Club - Credit: Archant

Newly promoted Norwich City made an excellent start to a new season in the East League.

They welcomed a highly rated Wapping side to Taverham for their opening Premier A fixture and won it 1-0 courtesy of a late goal from Emily Francis.

After a low-key opening period City almost got their noses in front when good link-up play from Harriet Johnson, Ellie Brine and Francis ended with Brine bursting into the D and hitting an effort narrowly wide.

Wapping threated at times but keeper Mikayla-Mae Glover kept their shots at bay, ably supported by Suzi Mitchell and Fong Chung at the back.

It was around 10 minutes from time that City got their hard-fought breakthrough when Johnson found Francis unmarked at the top of the D who turned and slid the ball reverse stick underneath the keeper.

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Harleston Magpies II faced a long trip to Kent for their opening fixture and lost a tight encounter 1-0.

There was a derby match in Division 1N, with Norwich Dragons taking on Dereham at The Den, and it was the visitors who came out of top, beating a side who were playing Premier Division hockey last season 5-2.

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Dragons made a decent start but Dereham took advantage of the chances they created to move 3-0 ahead before a fine run and cross from Liv Thomas was well finished by Kiera Goymour to reduce the arrears.

A more experienced Dereham side made the game safe after the break by scoring two more goals but Dragons kept fighting and were rewarded with a fantastic strike over from Emma Tabbrett. Despite the result a lot of promise was shown by Dragons, with Tabbrett and young Mima Watson on her league debut being named joint players of the match.

The goals were shared around by Dereham with Becca Gibbs, Sam Colman and Grace Gowing scoring in the first half and Lucy Soame and Sarah Dove netting after the break.

A new-look squad took to the pitch in Norwich, including newcomers to the club Siobhan Cleeve, Hayley Toleman and Marie James alongside some more familiar faces who have returned or stepped up from the seconds in the shape of Hannah Palmer, Tammy Dye, Ella Dye and Grace Gowing.

It was a good opening day for Norwich Dragons' two sides in Division 2NE of the East League.

With Maddie Denman back from university and young Piper Hempsall making her debut the seconds beat Dereham II 1-0, with a first half goal from Kate McKenna settling the issue.

Dragons generally had control and on the rare occasions when the ball did get through keeper Amy Forse dealt with it calmly.

The newly formed team showed plenty of promise in the opening league match with Donna Vaughan and Karen O'Neill-Simpson both catching the eye and being named joint players of the match.

Playing their first match since promotion from the Empresa Norfolk League Dragons III also impressed, winning 3-0 at the UEA. Ally Windsor-Waite and Jess Haw (2) were the scorers. It was a great team performance from start to finish, with Kath Mares winning the vote for player of the match.

Elsewhere in Division 2NE North Norfolk beat Yarmouth 3-1, Watton won 2-0 at Magpies III and Norwich City II went down 2-0 at Bury St Edmunds.

Broadland maintained their impressive start to the Empresa Norfolk Women's League Premier Division campaign when they won a derby match at Norwich City III 6-3.

A forceful run and a well-placed shot from Kelly Allen in the fourth minute set the ball rolling but City's response was almost immediate as Olivia Bradman equalised from close range.

Within minutes a clearance by keeper Sarah Craig struck a defender's body and the ball fell conveniently to Florence Cunningham who put City ahead with a simple finish.

A rocket of a shot from Helen Brockington was deflected in by captain Lydia Lawrence for the equaliser before Lawrence was on hand to finish off a flowing move to make it 3-2 to Broadland.

City found another equaliser as Marie Hood's penalty corner strike took a deflection to find the roof of the net but Broadland then took charge, with a penalty corner goal by star player Natasha Blyth, a fine effort from Helen Kelly and a classic penalty corner strike from Natalie Brooks sealing the points.

Broadland II were too strong for a youthful Dereham III side, winning 2-0. Nikki Baker and Carre Varley scored the Broadland goals while a great effort in midfield from Nina Torin and Lorna Cousins, supported by Amelia Anema and Lisa Gill, kept the visitors at bay.

Loddon made it two victories out of two by winning 3-1 at Norwich Dragons IV, with Caroline Wolfe scoring the consolation goal, while UEA II also have a 100 per cent record following a 3-1 home win over Pelicans II.

In the other top flight matches Lowestoft Railway saw off Harleston Magpies IV 3-1 while Evergreens beat Norwich City IV 2-1, with Niamh Campbell scoring for City.

In Division One Reepham, Watton II and Diss scored 25 goals between them on Saturday and have all started the season with two emphatic wins. Norwich Dragons V beat Lowestoft Railway II 3-0 thanks to goals from Chloe Mikronis, Gemma Ballard and one claimed jointly by Lizzy McDonnell and Beth Elgood.

In Division Two Broadland III went down 4-0 at Magpies VI, with keeper Emma Piddock performing well, while Thetford won 11-0 at Dragons VIII in Division Three (Kathy Howard 4, Karen Hodgkinson 3, Rebecca Ellen 2, Hannah Spidy, Dawn Clelland).

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