East Men’s League: City confirm their swift return to the top flight
- Credit: Archant
Norwich City achieved promotion back to East Premier A at the first attempt with a third place finish in Premier B following an emphatic 8-1 victory over lowly Long Sutton.
Knowing that a win in either of the last two matches would clinch promotion City were determined to achieve this with a match to spare, but were aware that their opponents would be scrapping for points in order to avoid relegation.
Skipper Jez Elliott led the way by opening the scoring after 15 minutes, receiving the ball from a quickly taken sideline hit, dribbling it into the circle and smashing home into the far corner. Shortly afterwards Pete Morgan dribbled to the top of the circle from where he pushed the ball hard at the goal and Dave Skinner's touch took it past the keeper.
The final member of City's striking trio, Chris Wardale, then added to the scoresheet. An aerial from the left bounced into the circle where Wardale found himself between a defender and the keeper and managed to lob the ball into an empty net.
Three goals to the good at the break, City needed to ensure they stayed composed, giving the home side limited opportunities by retaining possession. Ten minutes into the half Skinner's initial shot was saved, but he was able to slot in the rebound. With 15 minutes remaining City lost concentration and conceded a goal but this setback galvanised them and they scored four further goals in the final ten minutes.
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Man of the match Wardale added his second when his reverse stick cross was turned in by a defender with Nick Jones lurking. Chris Perry added a penalty stroke following a deliberate foul in the circle and then a ball from Ed Sutton was touched by Skinner, allowing Pete Morgan to hit home. Skinner completed his hat- trick and the scoring, converting after a quick break involving skipper Elliott. City's three strikers have now scored 58 goals between them this season with one match remaining, away at Letchworth.
On a day when the majority of fixtures were wiped out by the snow Norwich Dragons also managed to play, and were glad they did as they beat Division 2N champions Ipswich and East Suffolk 2-1. It was IES who opened the scoring from their first penalty corner: a powerful shot smashing into the backboard. This seemed to drive Dragons on and they levelled when Lewis Wilkins scored at the far post, finishing off a good move in style.
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Dragons won a penalty corner on the stroke of half-time and although they were not able to get their shot away, IES were unable to clear and Dragons won a second corner. This time Alex Browne smashed the ball home to give the hosts a 2-1 lead at half-time.
It had snowed pretty much all of the first half and continued to snow throughout the second half. Despite the conditions, the teams continued to play good hockey. Although the visitors won a number of penalty corners they were not able to find away past the Dragons' defence. At the other end Dragons created a number of chances but were unable to find the net. Dragons' man of the match was Robbie Whiting.