East Men’s League: Dereham get lesson from title hopefuls

East Men's League Premier A title chasers St Albans proved too strong for a depleted Dereham, winning 6-0.

The result saw the Norfolk club drop to fifth in the table while St Albans moved to the top of the league with a game in hand following Harleston Magpies' scoreless draw away to third-placed Bedford.

Dereham were missing three key players – Mark Braybrook and Mark Timm due to work commitments and playmaker Andy Lawrence through a knee injury.

Despite their weakened line-up Dereham performed admirably in the first half and were unlucky to find themselves 2-0 down at the break. Both goals were of the highest quality – a perfectly-placed penalty corner flick and a superb counter attacking goal.

Dereham's chances took a big blow towards the end of the first half when central defender Mark Hunter questioned a decision made by respected former national league umpire Tarsem Chagger and was deservedly sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes.

Despite this, they continued to fight hard and came close to reducing the deficit when a shanked penalty corner strike from Mike Timm was deflected fractionally over the bar by man of the match Matt Stainthorpe. However, the ten men were eventually exposed as the impressive St Albans strikers scored twice in as many minutes to double their advantage.

The final ten minutes were packed full of incident with a disallowed goal, a yellow card and two superb strikes for the title favourites.

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A neat deflected goal from Dereham captain Rich Stainthorpe was ruled out due to an infringement outside the circle before a show of dissent from Mike Timm earned him a yellow card suspension. St Albans immediately took advantage with two more goals.

The final score was a little harsh on the visitors, but St Albans were certainly worthy winners of the contest and will take some stopping in their quest to win the title.

In Premier Division B, Norwich City's visit to Harleston 2nds hinged on a controversial incident early in the second half.

With the score at 1-1, City's Charlie Horn had beaten the last defender when he was brought down from behind by the Magpies keeper.

The offending player was fortunate to receive only a yellow card, but more importantly the chance was lost – and soon afterwards Magpies gained and converted a short corner.

City became frustrated, lost discipline with two temporary suspensions of their own and conceded two further goals as they chased the game to lose 3-1.

Magpies had taken the lead from a short corner early in the first half finding a gap in the City defence. City had fought back equalising when Jez Elliots free hit found Pete Morgan who turned the ball in at the post.

In Division Two North Norwich Dragons lost 4-3 at Spalding. They started the game well but were not able to turn their dominance into goals and found themselves 2-0 down before fighting back with two goals from Alex Browne – one smashed home from a well worked penalty corner, the other calmly slotted through the legs of the goalkeeper.

The second half became increasingly fractious as both teams tried to find the goals to guarantee the points which are so precious in such a tight league.

Dragons created a number of good chances in open play and from corners, but could not find a way past the in-form Spalding keeper.

They weren't helped when they had two men sin-binned. Spalding went back ahead when a ball hit into the circle was judged to have been touched by the Dragons keeper as it passed by him into the net.

Back to full strength, Dragons equalised through Rupert Snelling from a penalty corner but as time ran out Spalding converted the last of a series of penalty corners.

Norwich City 2nds remain clear and unbeaten at the top of Division Three NE after winning 6-2 at Lowestoft Railway.

City went in front when Freddy Hooper and Matt Brine combined to set up Jack Ingham for the opening goal and virtually made the game safe during a purple patch of 15 minutes before the interval in which they scored four more goals through Ingram again, Brine (two) and Adie Land.

Lowestoft clawed a goal back at the start of the second half but Brine completed his hat-trick with a straight strike from a short corner before Railway grabbed a second late consolation.

Holt Harlequins kept the pressure on with a 3-2 win at Ipswich Cranes.

Norwich Dragons 2nds remain three points behind Division 4NE's 100pc team Ipswich & East Suffolk 2nds after beating Dereham 1-0 with a late first half goal from Mark Flatman scoring with a well placed shot. The leaders won 8-1 at UEA 2nds.

In Division 6NE Norwich Dragons 4ths maintained their unbeaten home record with a 4-1 win over Bury St Edmunds 5ths – Mike Banham, Ollie King, Paul Keating and Ben Harvey scoring the goals – in the process replacing their opponents in third place behind Ipswich 3rds and Norwich Exiles.