Gorleston hockey men go down fighting against league leaders

After two weeks off due to the weather, Gorleston made the trip to Harleston, to face the Magpies III who have been at the top of the Men’s East Division Two North all season.

Gorleston were expecting a tough game and Magpies did not disappoint, undoing Gorleston in a devastating 15-minute spell that saw them secure three goals. The first was a little fortunate, as the rain swept in and the pitch surface changed, a bouncing ball eluded desperate Gorleston sticks and a Harleston forward swooped into the circle and smashed the ball into the net.

With their tails up, Harleston came at Gorleston hard and their disciplined control of the ball left Gorleston’s players chasing shadows. Very quickly one became two, became three as Harleston won a series of short corners and converted two of these to great effect.

A whitewash looked a certainty when Gorleston were reduced to 10 men after forward Simon Long could not resist the temptation to wave his stick at a high ball out of the Harleston defence and the Umpires had no choice but to send him to stand in a rain soaked corner of the pitch.

But Gorleston did stop the rot and managed to hold onto the ball for a while, preventing Harleston from extending their lead. With sterling work being done by captain Barnaby King in the Gorleston goal and the defensive unit of MacDonald, Cheung, Higginbotham and Austin working hard, chances for the Harleston forwards became fewer. Higginbotham in particular who made a number of crucial challenges.

In the second half, Gorleston made the game much more of a challenge for Harleston and the team won a number of short corners that could have changed the face of the game. However, as the rain got heavier, Gorleston’s aim got washed away and these chances went begging.

With 10 minutes remaining though, Martyn Vaudin snuck his way through the Harleston defence and placed a sweet reverse stick shot beyond the home Keeper to give Gorleston some pride and it was just reward for a much improved second half performance from the visitors. Though Harleston could have improved on their score and they created a number of chances, a determined defence from Gorleston kept the second half as a clean sheet.

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Team: B King (C), K Macdonald, J Higginbotham, H Cheung, J Austin, R Harlow, R Pallant, S Long, R Crawford, N Hudson, M Vaudin, A Lilley.