Premier A pair off to promising start
Dereham got their East Premier A campaign off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over Bishops Stortford at Greenfields Road.
Goals in each half from Ed Turner and captain Richard Stainthorpe ensured that all three points went to a Dereham team determined to improve on the club record 30 points accrued in the East's top flight last season.
The home side were the dominant force throughout but were made to work hard for their win by a Stortford team hit hard by injuries, unavailability and departures.
Dereham started well but were guilty of missing some good chances, with Stainthorpe, Mike Timm and Will Edwards showing some early rustiness. The breakthrough came when makeshift forward Turner cut in from the right and crashed a thunderous reverse stick shot into the goal from a tight angle.
Towards the end of the second half the match turned in Stortford's favour when Dereham playmaker Andy Lawrence was given his marching orders for breaking down play. But Dereham finally put the game to bed in the last minute when Stainthorpe got his goal, producing a classy finish following a speculative long pass from veteran star Mark Braybrook.
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Harleston Mapgies also got off to a winning start following their relegation from the National League when they beat visitors Cambridge University 2-1.
With the absence of Stu Leate and Tristan Baynes, who both were unavailable, Toby Price stepped up for his league debut.
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With Magpies much the better team, Cambridge scored against the run of play after a moment of confusion in the circle. Soon after Andy Hipwell had to leave the game through injury which meant Magpies had to see out the rest of the game with only 12 players. The best opportunity for Harleston in the first half came from Andrew Bedwell whose goal-bound shot which was saved on the line.
Magpies opened their account with a short corner which was well struck by Pete Bale which made it easy for Tom Graham to touch in.
After this Magpies kept the ball for long periods and with great service from Tom Sumner and Mark Wheelhouse, the forwards came close to scoring. Finally, after Sam Moore ran into the circle and won a short corner, Simon Hipwell smashed home an intricate short corner routine to give Magpies the points.
In Premier B section Norwich City had to settle for a 3-3 home draw with Colchester in their opener. City have retained the majority of the squad that were relegated from Premier A, but were missing some players due to unavailability so drafted in Tom Cooke and Chris Jones plus newcomer Ed Sutton for his league debut.
City were quickly out of the blocks and took the lead after seven minutes when Jim Pallister picked up the ball drove into the right hand side of the circle and unleashed a shot that took a deflection on the way in.
Colchester scored next midway through the half and 15 minutes into the second period City paid for some sloppy defensive play when they went behind. This seemed to spur on City and they equalised two minutes later when Nick Jones threaded his way into the circle with a determined run and unleashed a thunderbolt into the far corner. City then regained the lead when Pete Morgan beat a defender and lifted the ball high into the goal.
City were then guilty of throwing men forward and with fatigue setting in Colchester broke away and drew level again with 10 minutes left.
Also in Premier B Harleston Magpies II drew 4-4 at Cambridge University II – after being 4-0 down at one stage.
Norwich Dragons hit the goal trail in Division 2NE, thrashing UEA 7-0.
Robert Wagstaff opened the scoring with a dipping penalty corner strike and after Jim Woodruff had made a good save Steve Woodward made it 2-0, sweeping in a pass from the marauding Ali Smythe. Smythe then made it 3-0 and, following in on Sam Parmenter's fierce strike, Rupert Snelling made the score 4-0. Garnett Jones finished the half off for Dragons by smashing the ball into the back of the net.
In the second half Dragons surged forward looking for more goals.and Snelling scored his second following up from Matt Knight's shot which had hit the post. Knights finally got just reward for his tireless work, scoring at the far post.
Norwich City II drew 1-1 with Ipswich II in DIvision 3NE.
City went behind but scored a well deserved equaliser when Ben Cushion beat three defenders to lay off to the excellent Adie Land. The keeper saved the initial shot but parried it to the predatory Jack Ingham who slotted it in at the left post.