Gorleston hockey strikers on target

Gorleston 5, North Walsham 2

HOCKEY: Gorleston, in their first league game of this season, played on a very wet and slippery pitch, which made the ball harder to control and very quick.

North Walsham took advantage of some slack defending, causing confusion in the Gorleston defence which led to a mis-placed ball rolling to the top of the D for the Walsham centre midfield dynamo to fire into the bottom corner. Barnaby King could do nothing to stop a fine finish.

As is the character of Gorleston, this made them stronger and was a wake-up call. They started to dominate and with the wingers Mark Vaudin and Suraj Rajput making telling runs and Richard Pallant and Simon Long dominating midfield, they packed the D to provide Neil Hudson with a chance that he undercut into the top corner.

With the game tied at 1-1 at half time, it looked encouraging for Gorleston.

The second half, Gorleston dominated again and they counter-attacked. Rob Harlow came from defence to strike the ball under the keeper, who could not prevent the ball rolling into his goal

With the back four of Kev Macdonald, Martin Vaudin, Jamie Higginbotham and Jason Austin solid, the attacks built regularly for Gorleston. Creating more short corners from Russ Crawford’s persistence, Gorleston worked a great set piece with Pete Jones dummying for Long to slot into the net.

Most Read

Higginbotham then performed a great solo effort to drag flick the ball at pace into the top corner from another short corner.

North Walsham hardly threatened and with Herman Cheung’s energy in defence, rarely looked like getting the ball. Gorleston were passing the ball much better and North Walsham began to rely on long-ball tactics.

Hudson again made a clinical finish past the stranded North Walsham keeper.

Gorleston lost concentration to let Walsham score from an acute angle.

Gorleston should be pleased with the result because they played good hockey after a nervy first 20 minutes and in rainy weather.

Squad: Barnaby King, Kev Macdonald (C), Herman Cheung, Rob Harlow, Jason Austin, Martyn Vaudin, Simon Long, Peter Jones, Jamie Higginbotham, Richard Pallant, Mark Vaudin, Suraj Rajput, Neil Hudson, Russ Crawford.

Harleston Magpies IV 1, Gorleston 3

Gorleston travelled to Harleston in confident mood after a reasonable performance in their first league game of the season.

The team settled well on Harleston’s water-based pitch and quickly established dominance of the midfield. Surging runs from the attacking partnership of Simon Long and Neil Hudson created a number of chances but the Harleston keeper dealt with everything that came his way.

Gorleston’s defence of Cheung, Austin, Macdonald and man of the match Martyn Vaudin maintained complete control of the Harleston attack.

As a goal failed to materialise, Gorleston used their rolling sub to change the format of the team, but it was Harleston who took the lead late on after a rare breakout from their midfield resulted in a short corner.

Gorleston keeper King made a good save from the first shot but Harleston’s Josh Fitzgerald picked the loose ball off the keeper’s pads and put it into the Gorleston net.

The half finished with Harleston ahead and Gorleston’s half time discussion focused on continuation of possession and a slight change to the line-up, with Long reverting to midfield and Crawford moving to join the attack.

Second half Gorleston’s midfield players Andrew Lilly, Rob Harlow, Mark Vaudin and Suraj Rajput again ran Harleston ragged.

The change in formation then paid dividends when Russ Crawford received the ball near the top of the D and bounced it over the advancing keeper for Rajput to finish from close range and score his first league goal for the club.

Gorleston took the lead as captain Kev Macdonald ghosted into the circle to collect a deft pass and slot the ball home by the keeper’s near post.

King made a decisive save to protect the Gorleston goal.

Rajput then used his stick wizardry to weave his way through the Harleston defence and pull the ball back from the base line for Crawford to finish at the far post.

Squad: Barnaby King, Kev Macdonald (C), Herman Cheung, Rob Harlow, Jason Austin, Martyn Vaudin, Simon Long, Andrew Lilley, Mark Vaudin, Suraj Rajput, Neil Hudson, Russ Crawford.