Dereham Ladies lose perfect record after emphatic home defeat
- Credit: Archant
Norwich City and Harleston Magpies II both picked up important points in their battle against relegation from the top flight of the Women's East League.
City shared the spoils with Cambridge City II 2-2 at Taverham (Krystal Bishop, Jocasta Staines) while Magpies recorded a 3-3 draw at Wapping III (Anouska Stott, Lucy Whiting, Laura Tibbenham).
Dereham's 100 percent record in Division 1N was ruined by Bedford II, who came away with a stunning 4-0 success.
Dereham's lead over second-placed Cambridge University is now down to four points and the two sides meet at Greenfields Road on Saturday (10.30am) in what should be a cracker.
The hosts made a decent start but failed to take their chances and on the stroke of half-time Bedford won a short corner which they slotted home despite the efforts of Marie James.
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After the break Dereham won a series of short corners but fantastic work by the keeper denied them. Bedford then won a corner of their own which Lucy Soame charged down but a cruel deflection beat captain Becca Gibbs and found the top right corner.
Dereham continued to work hard, with Grace Gowing hitting the post, but they were caught out twice on the counter-attack.
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Norwich Dragons put in an improved performance to draw 1-1 with Lowestoft at The Den. After a goalless first half which featured some good work from player-of-the-match Mima Watson and her defensive colleagues the hosts went in front from a short corner when Liv Leary's effort was blocked and Issy Wolfe was on hand to slot home. Lowestoft quickly got back on level terms however and despite a dominant last 10 minutes Dragons had to settle for a point.
The race for promotion from Division 2NE took a twist when leaders North Norfolk were beaten 3-2 at home by fellow high-flyers Bury St Edmunds.
Watton beat Dereham II 3-0 to move to within a point of the summit with a game in hand while Norwich Dragons II also closed the gap with a 4-2 win at the UEA, thanks to goals from Jess Bennett, Saskia Williams, Haz Green and Jess Haw.
The Norwich derby between Dragons III and City II at the Den ended 1-1, with Victoria Earley scoring for the home side and Milly Brown for the visitors.
Pelicans went down 2-1 at home to bottom team Newmarket in Division 2NW. Poppy Beales scored, hit the post and drew a fine save from the keeper but the visitors deserved their win.
East League Men
Harleston Magpies kept their Premier A title hopes alive - and stayed firmly on course for a place in next season's new-look National League set-up - by beating Cambridge City II 2-1 for a sixth successive win.
With four games left they remain just three points behind leaders Wapping, who hammered bottom side Saffron Walden 11-0.
It wasn't until late in the first half that the deadlock was broken. Turnover ball in midfield, followed by a strong run from captain Tom Ridley, created space for Simon Hipwell to tidy up a loose ball and slot home.
With 20 minutes left City scored a penalty corner to draw level but the hosts kept battling away and after patient build-up Dave Skinner found the winner with a composed finish at the back post. He dedicated the goal to his new-born son.
Norwich City crashed to a 5-2 defeat at West Herts but remain five points clear of the bottom two. City recovered from 3-0 down to make it 3-2 in the second half before conceding twice near the end. Their goals were scored by Tom Cooke and Stuart Wardle.
Dereham's good season in Premier B continued when they beat West Herts II 3-1.
Doomed Norwich City II lost 5-3 to Wapping III in Division 1 (Chris Wardale, Jeremy Elliott, Ben Plumb) while fellow strugglers Magpies II went down 3-0 at leaders Broxbourne.
Candidates for team of the week are Norwich City III who recovered from two down at home to Bourne Deeping II to record their first win of the season in Division 2NE. Rees Leonard scored twice and Henry Baker, Dan Cheesman, Toby Pallister and Jack Luther were also on target as City won an eventful game 6-4.
Pelicans had a good 2-1 win at Long Sutton, Norwich Dragons went down 4-2 at Kettering (Olly Buck, Rupert Snelling) and Dereham II were thrashed 6-0 at Cambridge South.
Fergus Clarke scored a hat-trick as Broadland Exiles beat IES V 5-0 in Division 5NE, with Rickie Powley and Robbie Dix also on target.
Empresa Norfolk League
Broadland effectively sealed the Premier League title on Saturday - without even playing.
Closest rivals Norwich City III went down 5-3 at third placed Loddon in a re-arranged fixture to remain 15 points behind the leaders with just five games left to play.
With Broadland having a +84 goal difference to City's +30 they are uncatchable at the top. Loddon are now second, having played one more game than City, whose scorers at the weekend were Effie Bowley, Florence Duffield and Holly Robinson.
Diss moved five points clear at the top of Division One when they saw off Norwich City V 4-0 while Reepham were winning 2-1 at Magpies V to go second.
Harleston Magpies Ladies had mixed fortunes in their East Conference double header, beating Bedford 4-1 at home before losing 2-0 at high-flying Hampstead and Westminster.
Saturday's home fixture got off to an even start before the hosts went ahead on 10 minutes. Emma Lee-Smith received the ball at the top of the D and managed to get in a reverse stick shot which was deflected in by Jess Bloom.
Just before half-time Lee-Smith again received the ball and drove towards the goal before beating a couple of defenders and slipping the ball home.
In the second half Bedford pressurised the Magpies' defence and got one back from a short corner strike from the top of the D. The visitors then went in search of an equaliser but Magpies twice hit them on the break to seal victory, with Lee-Smith getting her second and Lottie Summers also on target.
On Sunday Magpies made the long journey down to London to take on Hampstead and Westminster in a fixture that was postponed earlier in the month because of an icy pitch.
Magpies knew it was going to be a hard game against a side who needed a win to go top. With most of the squad having played the day before, and with some injuries, Magpies were stretched to the limit but still gave a good account of themselves.
The game started off fairly evenly but Hampstead soon started putting the visitors' defence under pressure. Magpies then conceded a corner and the hosts went for the deflection with a defender being hit on the line. Hampstead converted the flick although Megan Brown was close to saving it.
Magpies managed to create some chances before the break, but couldn't find the goal.
The second half started fairly evenly again, with Magpies knowing they were still in the game, and they continued to try and create chances. Lee-Smith struck a short corner just wide and the Magpies' defence continued to work hard to keep out Hampstead's attacks, although the home side did manage to double their advantage.
Next Saturday Magpies, who are now fifth in the table, welcome Horsham to Weybread (1.30pm) and will be looking to build on the positives of the weekend.