Magpies produce best yet
Harleston Magpie Ladies 2, Oxford Hawks 0: Magpies produced their best performance of the season to defeat an Oxford side who started the day as the league's leading scorers.
After a confident start, Magpies took the lead when Angie Wheelhouse fired the ball high into the roof of the net to score her first goal of the season.
Hawks came close to an equaliser just before half-time when a well-worked short corner was cleared off the line by Charlotte Harrison.
The visitors continued to press in an attempt to get back on level terms, but the Magpies midfield of Harrison, Sarah Brook, Frances Sumner and Verity Blyth worked hard to restrict their opportunities.
Magpies extended their lead in the 45th minute when Jess Howland skilfully deflected Emily Wilford's reverse stick shot past the Hawks keeper.
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They were unlucky not to go further ahead soon afterwards when Hannah Palmer and Wheelhouse combined but the final effort hit the post and the ball was scrambled to safety.
Hawks continued to drive forward, but were denied by a diving stick save from keeper Lisa Griffen and a goal-line clearance from Lizzy Jones.
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• Old Loughtonians 4, Harleston Magpies Men 3:
A late winner denied Magpies a second successive draw, but they can take heart from another improved performance at Chigwell.
An eventful first half saw the sides go in at the break with the score locked at 3-3 and it looked to be staying that way until Old Loughts grabbed the deciding goal four minutes from time.
Magpies were again without captain Mark Wheelhouse through injury, but Tristan Baynes returned and there was a National League debut for new keeper Reece Leonard.
The visitors started the game strongly and played some of the best hockey they have produced this year, confidently moving the ball around and also stifling any threat from a home side boasting current England international Harry Martin.
A slick move down the right saw Elliot Smith and Peter Bale set up leading goalscorer Ben Wright, who drove into the circle and smashed a crisp strike into the net.
The lead didn't last long and Old Loughtonians were level from a well worked penalty corner a few minutes later.
Magpies continued to press and regained the lead when a great delivery from man-of-the-match Andrew Bedwell was brilliantly deflected in by Stuart Leate.
Moments later it got even better for the visitors when Mark Stacpoole stole the ball off a hesitant defender and raced into the circle. His cross-shot could have been heading in, but Seb Knights made sure, giving Magpies a two-goal cushion.
The hosts got back on level terms when they won two short corners which they converted into the right and then left corners of the goal respectively to make it all-square at half-time.
In the second half Old Loughtonians pressed the away side back into their half but good organisation and hard work ensured the scores remained level. Two yellow cards were given to Magpies players for deliberate breaking down of play on separate occasions but despite this man advantage the home side could not breach the Magpies' rear guard.
Magpies appeared to have earned a point but Old Loughts grabbed the winner from a short corner. The visitors gave their all to try and equalise but a missed short corner was all they could manage.