Men’s hockey: Harleston Magpies close the gap on leaders to just three points

Jack Hobbs scored twice as Harleston Magpies won 5-1 at Letchworth to stay in the thick of the East

Jack Hobbs scored twice as Harleston Magpies won 5-1 at Letchworth to stay in the thick of the East League Premier A title battle Picture: Pat Leate - Credit: Archant

Harleston Magpies showed no mercy on bottom team Letchworth to move to within three points of the Premier Division summit.

Magpies recorded a 5-1 away win to keep the pressure on leaders Wapping, who were held to a 2-2 draw by visitors Cambridge University.

Harleston, who welcomed two debutants in Tom Dunnett and keeper Chris Routs, took just seven minutes to take the lead with Dave Gilbert firing home via a deflection after being picked out by Jack Hobbs.

Letchworth got back on level terms five minutes later from a penalty corner, and it remained 1-1 until half-time - but then Magpies took control.

Dunnet smashed the ball across the D to Gilbert who deflected the ball home to make it 2-1 and it was not long before Harleston created a similar chance, with Tom Ridley delivering for James Gray to convert.

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Harleston then won a short corner and after twice failing to convert it was third time lucky, with Andrew Bedwell delivering to Leigh Sitch who deflected the ball high past the keeper.

A break from midfield by Tim Whiteman then offered another chance of a goal which was taken by Hobbs as he smashed the ball past the keeper to complete the scoring.

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Norwich City remain deep in trouble near the bottom of the table after crashing to a painful 5-0 home defeat at the hands of mid-table Ipswich. The result saw them remain just two points above Letchworth in third from bottom position.

With the pitches at Greenfields Road not fit for action Dereham had an unscheduled day off in Premier B as their eagerly awaited match against second placed East London was postponed.

Norwich City II remain cast adrift at the bottom of Division 1 following a 2-0 defeat at Potters Bar while Magpies II went down 3-2 at home to Old Southendian to stay immediately above them.

Pelicans came away from lowly Norwich City III with a 5-1 win in Division 2NE while Dereham II lost 4-1 at Cambridge Nomads and Norwich Dragons 1-0 at Bourne Deeping II.

Will Mullens scored a late consolation for Norwich Exiles as they went down 4-1 at home to Dereham III in Division 5NE.

Harleston Magpies finished fifth in their section of the Men's National Indoor League, ranking them 14th in the country overall.

In the first weekend at Nottingham they lost 4-3 to Ipswich and 12-4 to Reading before bouncing back to beat Oulton and West Warwickshire 4-3 and Bowdon 5-3.

The Magpies then travelled to Bristol for the second part of the competition. They lost their first game to Ashmoor 3-1 but then put in their best performance of the tournament against Beeston, with coach Tim Whiteman leading the underdogs to a dramatic 3-2 win against his former club. That meant Magpies went into Sunday knowing their Division One status was secure for another season. With the pressure off, they rounded off their campaign by beating St Albans 9-3 and drawing 4-4 with Loughborough Students.

Squad: C Leek (GK), T Baynes, R Larkin (C), B Gowing, T Whiteman, T Ridley, S Hipwell, J Hobbs, R Rai, J Gray, D Gilbert, C Sitch, A Winter. Manager: K Ridley.

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