Harleston Magpies claim emphatic win to keep pressure on leaders
- Credit: Archant
Harleston Magpies maintained their title challenge in the top flight of East League as they secured a comfortable 4-1 home win over Chelmsford.
The victory saw them remain three points behind leaders Wapping, who saw off Bedford 2-0, while third placed St Albans are now eight points behind them after being thwarted by the weather.
Magpies, who gave keeper Ollie Juszt his first team debut fresh from being selected for England Under-18s, went ahead when Tom Dunnett found Ben Gowing who used his first two touches of the game to open the scoring.
Raunaq Rai doubled the home side's advantage after good work from Andrew Bedwell and Will Tew and although Chelmford pulled one back before the break Magpies went on to add two more goals in the second half.
Bedwell and Leigh Sitch doubled up for a deflection at a penalty corner and Dunnett rounded off the scoring with a back post volley from close range.
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On a day when icy pitches played havoc with the East League programme, Norwich City's trip to St Albans was among the many postponements, as was the Premier B match between Dereham and Blueharts. In Division 5NE Norwich Exiles recovered from a half-time deficit to beat North Norfolk II 4-1 (Robbie Whiting, Ian White, Robbie Dix, Mark Varley).
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Norwich Dragons got their Division 1N campaign back on track after a run of six games without a win when they beat Ipswich II 2-1 at The Den thanks to goals from Lucy Morton and player-of-the-match Kiera Goymour.
Leaders Dereham were thwarted by the weather on Saturday but did manage to fit in a re-arranged home game with Wisbech the following afternoon which they won 4-0.
Dereham were soon ahead as Becca Gibbs found Becca Taylor who got in front of a defender to deflect home. A second goal quickly followed from a short corner, with Gibbs scoring this time.
After the break Taylor got her brace after Hayley Toleman had put her through and Bec Loveday rounded off the scoring after driving into the D and firing home.
In the Premier Division Harleston Magpies II were held to a 0-0 draw by bottom side Sevenoaks II at Weybread while Norwich City's home fixture against Chelmsford was postponed.
North Norfolk stretched their lead in Division 2NE to five points by beating Magpies III 3-2 at Cromer.
Closest rivals Norwich Dragons II lost ground when they went down 2-1 at Yarmouth. After going in at the break a goal down Dragons equalised when Jess Haw fired goalwards and the ball sneaked in via the faintest of deflections from Debs Smith.
But it was Yarmouth who had the final say to leave Dragons five points adrift of North Norfolk in second, with both Bury St Edmunds and the inactive Watton breathing down their necks.
Empresa Norfolk League
Champions-elect Broadland moved 15 points clear at the top of the Premier Division after maintaining their 100 percent record with a 4-1 win over third-placed Loddon.
Helen Brockington opened the scoring after picking up a rebound off the keeper's pads and forcing the ball home.
Loddon quickly equalised through Beverley Bucklee, whose deflected shot at a penalty corner gave keeper Sarah Craig little chance but Broadland surged ahead through leading scorer Dani Parke, who was on hand to convert a pinpoint cross from Helen Kelly. The game could have gone either way at that point but Parke was again on target with a strong finish minutes later to extend the lead.
Loddon stubbornly defended but conceded again as a Natalie Brooks penalty corner strike was swatted in by captain Lydia Lawrence.
Nearest rivals Norwich City III were left inactive by the weather - but all the other top flight games went ahead.
Broadland II suffered their third successive heavy defeat as they were outplayed by a young, speedy and well drilled Magpies IV side who won 6-0. Broadland's star player was Georgia Glenn at right defence.
Norwich City IV won 2-1 at UEA II (Frances Underhill, Florence Duffield), Norwich Dragons IV went down 4-3 at Evergreens (Lilli Ballard 2, Niamh Somers) and Lowestoft Railway beat Dereham III 4-0.
With Division One leaders Diss inactive, the fifth teams of Magpies and Dragons closed the gap at the top to a single point with convincing wins. Magpies beat Dragons VI 6-0 and Dragons V saw off Lowestoft II 3-0 with the goals coming from Hannah Edwards, Anita Mancini and Sue Cross.
East Women's Conference
Harleston Magpies' long awaited return to national outdoor action was put on ice when their match at Hampstead and Westminster was postponed. The fixture will now be played on February 17.
Weather permitting, Magpies' first game since the winter break will now be at Cambridge City this coming Saturday.