Women’s East League: Norwich Dragons take title after thrilling battle
A thrilling Division 2NE title race ended with Norwich Dragons pipping local rivals Norwich City to the silverware on goal difference.
Dragons knew they had to win their final game of the season at home to Panthers to guarantee finishing top and did just that, with their 3-0 victory rendering City's 5-1 win at home to Framlingham irrelevant.
City were left to reflect on an unbeaten season, with five drawn games ultimately costing them the title.
The Dragons controlled their game from the start but there was an understandable nervousness to their game. The Panthers defended in numbers and made it difficult for the hosts to break them down.
Finally, after 20 minutes, the deadlock was broken. A short corner routine that broke down fell to Gail Thomas. She passed to captain Marie James who fired the ball into the goal at close range.
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The Dragons continued to push forward but despite the amount of possession and efforts on goal the Panthers' defence held them at bay. The Panthers were awarded a penalty corner and Zoe Gotts had a superb effort saved by young Dragons keeper Freddie Briscoe. This was a significant point in the match as Dragons got their second just before the break. Another penalty corner was struck at the top of the D with venom by James, leaving the keeper with no chance.
In the second half the Dragons gave a controlled performance, determined not to let their title hopes slip away. Panthers worked tirelessly and Dragons had to wait for their third goal. James found herself in space in the centre of the pitch and drove the ball towards the Panthers' defence before slipping it into the path of Laura Shreeve who timed her run beautifully to score.
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The title had been secured and afterwards the players issued a big thank you to coach Pete Thomas for his commitment and help in getting the team promoted.
Norwich City couldn't quite claim the title but still ensured a superb season ended on a high note with a comprehensive win over visitors Framlingham.
Missing top scorer Emily Anthony up front, City started slowly before taking the lead when Anna Horsley found Becca Green completely unmarked on the far post to claim her debut first team goal. Framlingham got a fortuitous breakaway and equalised but Green quickly made it 2-1 before Frankie Birkenhead flicked a pass to the far post which somehow went in, probably off Ellie Brine's stick.
Georgie Kidner made it four from a quickly worked short corner and moments later she was denied a second when her initial short corner shot was adjudged too high. The scoring was complete when Green squeezed in her third.
Sprowston Ladies ended their season on a high with a 2-0 win away to Ipswich-East Suffolk.
With a number of players out through injury, Sprowston had some reshuffling in terms of both players and positions. But the whole team adjusted well, in particular Marie Hood (player of the match) and youngsters Holly Thomsen and Lotte Stalker (making her debut).
It was just before half-time that the breakthrough came from a short-corner routine when Trish Hagan's shot was saved by the keeper and Becky Cox was first to react.
Sprowston deservedly took all three points when Cox got her second goal with a composed finish when one-on-one with the keeper.