Men’s East League: Martin stars for Harleston Magpies in derby win over Dereham

Harleston Magpies hat-trick hero Will Martin on the ball. Picture: Pat Leate

Harleston Magpies hat-trick hero Will Martin on the ball. Picture: Pat Leate - Credit: Archant

Harleston Magpies moved four points clear at the top of the Premier Division after an impressive 4-1 victory over Norfolk rivals Dereham.

Magpies welcomed back Ben Wright and Toby Price who both won gold at last week's Futures Cup, as well as Max Macaulay.

In what was a physical game Dereham gave a good account of themselves but were overpowered by a typically well-organised and determined Magpies team that appear red-hot favourites to win the division and secure their place back in the National League.

The visitors made a strong start and would have taken the lead were it not for two stunning penalty corner saves from Matt Collinge, who touched Mike Timms' goal-bound efforts around the post before the home team gave Dereham a lesson in clinical finishing to open up a 2-0 lead.

Harleston worked their way out of the back from a 16 yard hit-out with some lovely flowing moves up the left and found Will Martin at the top of the D, who at the second attempt managed to put the ball in the back of the net. This lead was doubled when Martin once again had his initial shot saved, only for it to fall nicely for him to rifle it into the back for the net.

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Dereham made life interesting moments before half-time when Mark Timm reduced the deficit with a close range finish, but that was as good as it got for the visitors.

The call at the half-time break was for Magpies to keep their discipline and let the hockey do the talking. The call seemed to have paid off as Ben Wright turned provider for Chris Barber, who jumped in front of his defended and deflected in to restore the two goal cushion.

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Simon Hipwell and Toby Price then spent some time in the sinbin after both receiving yellow cards but Harleston weathered the storm and made it 4-1 when Macauley surged down the right hand flank, after some lovely interchange from Leigh Sitch and Richard Larkin, and carried it into the D. He found Martin unmarked at the back post, who completed his hat-trick and put the game to bed.

'I'm disappointed because I think we came into this match with a great chance of getting something from the game,' said Dereham captain Andy Lawrence.

'However, we made crucial mistakes at the start of each half and that is what cost us. Still, there were plenty of positives and hopefully we can take those forward.'

Harleston's nearest challengers Cambridge University fell four points adrift with a game in hand when their match at Wisbech was abandoned.

Norwich City looked comfortable in mid-table in the Premier B section after winning 5-2 at Cambridge University II to make it 10 points from seven games this season.

Their hero was Dave Skinner who scored a hat-trick while the other goals came from Ian Cottam and Jeremy Elliott.

Harleston Magpies II continued to prop up the table after suffering a 9-1 hammering at City of Peterborough II.

Norfolk's only representatives in Division One, Pelicans, beat Bishops Stortford 2-1 to move to sixth in the table.

Norwich Dragons' poor run in Division 2NE continued as they crashed to a 6-1 defeat against visitors March. The side, bolstered by the return of Ed Smith and of skipper Alex Overstall for the first time this season, started well enough but the game was turned on its head with three goals to March inside five minutes. Dragons pulled one back before the break, Alex Browne holding the ball up well before playing in Jonty Gosling whose inch-perfect pass was lifted over the keeper by Rupert Snelling.

The side reverted to a 4-4-2 at the break and again started the half brightly but March held firm and scored three more times to clinch an emphatic win.

Norwich City II have been waiting all season to really show their capability and to progress from playing good hockey for just half of a game to it being achieved for the entire 70 minutes, and this week was hopefully a big turning point.

They played some excellent hockey to beat Saffron Walden II 6-0 at Taverham. Man-of-the-match Matthew Brine led the way with two goals while Aide Land, Richard Silvester, George Brine and Tom Hindle were also on target.

It was only City's second win of the season, while North Norfolk followed suit by beating Cambridge City III 2-1 at Cromer. It was also a good day for bottom side Dereham II who saw off Cambridge University III 3-2 to win for the first time.

In Division 3NE Pelicans II beat Norwich Dragons II 6-2, despite going behind to a goal from Jason Wolfe. The hosts had scored five by the time Rory Jackson added a second for Dragons.

Norwich City III lost 5-4 at Newmarket (Chris Perry 2, Tim Armstrong, Dan Cheeseman) while City's in-form fourth team went on a goal spree at Watton in 4NE, winning 11-0 (Josh Bailey 4, Paul Gallop 2, Joe Konieczny 2, Haren Patel, Chris Baker, William Kidner).

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