Newmarket Men’s 1s: 0-1 loss vs Norwich City Men’s 4s (Home)
Following last week’s epic comeback from the very brink of defeat away at Felixstowe (#BestTeasInTheLeague) in which a number of players had been unavailable, Newmarket Men’s 1s faced a side they had beaten 4-3 away earlier in the season. This week, Captain Matt ‘see you at training’ Holden had at his disposal what seemed on paper to be a very strong side, so he was able to switch things up a little and improve upon the balance of the team.
However, things did not get off to a good start for Newmarket when veteran goalscorer Mike Skelton was unable to attend, due to an unhelpful baggage situation at the airport – a cunning ruse facilitated by an enterprising Norwich City 4s supporter, no doubt. Town’s squad seemed to have been depleted even further when a quick head count revealed the warm up jog to have come at the cost of a further three players, but thankfully said participants had simply come to the conclusion that running was not for them and had opted for a quick bout of yoga in the M1s’ newly adopted Official Warm Up Carpark (no students allowed) instead.
With limbs sufficiently wiggled and the inspirational words of their fearless leader (as well as those of their Captain) still ringing in their ears, the brave warriors of the Blue and Yellow machine took to the pitch for their first home game since the Christmas break. The more eagle-eyed of the assembled hordes of autograph-book-toting fans will have noticed that the legend of Will Wilson was at playing at left back, whilst Josh ‘Slayer II’ Dawson, Sam Smith and Harry Bell returned in the midfield treble. Professor Lewi Hrebeniakiakiak (spelling sponsored by Wilson Midfield Solutions, Inc.) and Doctor James McTaggart made up a decidedly over-qualified and left-side-oriented bench, and after a vigerous warm up session, they were soon introduced for Darren Jenkins – whose glossy locks needed a rest – and Bell – who just needed a rest – respectively.
The game had begun with Newmarket pressing high up in the opposition’s half, creating good chances but struggling to achieve the final touch on several driven passes into the ‘D’. McTaggart was quick to make an impact and rampaged down the left hand side, exchanging passes with Smith before crossing towards the back post with a venom that suggested he must have caught a glimpse of Jeremy Hunt lurking somewhere in the vicinity. The chances were coming think and fast for Town, but still they struggled to make a breakthrough, the Norwich goal seemingly living a charmed life as everything either hit the keeper’s pads or trickled narrowly wide – alas, this proved to be a common theme throughout the match.
Then, disaster struck for the home side. After yet another Newmarket attack broke down, City swiftly worked the ball down the middle and overloaded the defence with their apparently electric pace. Despite the best efforts of Hrebeniak and the mandatory Chris Leggett heroics, Norwich managed to coax the ball past the slide of Scotland keeper Martin McCourt and into the back of the Newmarket net, completely silencing both of the home fans for a moment. A very scrappy goal, but Town were 0-1 down nonetheless.
A tactical switch shortly after saw Jenkins – hair fully recovered – sub back on, Hrebeniak return to his favoured left back position and Wilson take up his accustomed role deep in the workings of Town’s midfield. Up until the goal, the Newmarket central defence of Simon Harrington and Jordan Newnes had lived up to their top trumps ratings and had rarely been troubled. Now that the usual ‘Wolfpak’ defensive lineup was back on the field, it stayed this way for the remainder of the half. The dastardly Mr. Hunt was apparently taken to haunting that Norwich far post area, and had he been there in body rather than spirit, would have been on the receiving end of a damn good thrashing from the number of shots that came back off the keeper, notably further efforts from McTaggart the mazy runs of Smith. Opportunities continued to present themselves for Mark Pears and Holden, who kept battling away in the opposition ‘D’, but the end product in the final 25 yards was just a tad lacking in composure and so the half time whistle blew with the score remaining at 1-0 to Norwich. Skipper Holden and ‘only his jab left’ Wilson were in agreement that the home side were perhaps trying too hard to force a goal, and that more composure was needed in the last quarter of the pitch. It was obvious to all that, if Newmarket could manage to sneak one goal, more would be sure to follow.
However, the second half started in a manner whereby Newmarket looked like they had not really woken up from the long Crimbo break, and found themselves unable to string more than a few passes together. Norwich intercepted a number of balls aimed at Town’s wide men and were able to create some excellent opportunities on the break. However, luckily for Newmarket, the defence and goalkeeper were on fine form – the rock-steady Harrington and Newnes showed just why their Top Trumps cards rate ’10’ for tackling and, when the ball did get through, McCourt utilised all his composure and experience to keep his team in the match. Darren Jenkins also lived up to his pre-match billing of dazzling the Norwich attackers with his trim jawline and also played his role to perfection, cutting inside from right back to tackle superbly while Hrebeniak gave chase to the pacy City wingers as they tried to run in behind (#2fast2quick).
The home side continued to be lethargic and looked as though they had not played together before as the dying minutes faded away. Newmarket pressed higher and higher up as the full backs and holding midfield piled forwards, but were unable to get the goal they so desperately wanted, despite a handful of short corners. Then, a Norwich player slipped over in the quickly worsening conditions, injured his knee and caused the final whistle to be blown with twenty seconds left on the clock, finally quashing any Newmarket hopes of a dramatic late comeback as of last week. A frustrating game that finished 1-0 to Norwich City.
Town were looking to walk away with 3 points as they faced a team residing near the bottom of the table, and will have to improve upon their decision making in the final third if games like this are to be won. The players now know what they need to work on in training and so should not be all doom and gloom. Some positives can be taken away in that Newmarket had large amounts of possession in the first half, only lacking the all important goal to turn the game on its head. As the great man once said,
“It ain’t about how hard you hit: it’s about how hard you hit, and keep moving forward. It’s how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”
MOTM – Smith and Jenkins, for equally superb performances in their different roles. As there is only a single medal, man of the match was settled by the right honourable means of an arm wrestle, of which the victor was the mighty Darren “It’s all about technique” Jenkins, and the runner up was the gracious Sam “I let him win” Smith. No doubt this result shall see many a young boy heading to his local Poundland (other stockists are available) in search of a shiny Dazzler card.
DOTD – Skelton, for literally not turning up.
Jordan ‘The King of Modesty’ Newnes was very keen to remind his fans exactly why the score was only 0-1, “I carried the whole midfield and attackers once more […] Obviously I didn’t have to carry the entire defence because they’re PAK”, Jenkins was very magnanimous in his comments, “I’m not that disappointed to be honest”, but Hrebeniak not so much: “What’s the £$%^&* point in strikers if they don’t £$%^&* well score!!”
Next week, Newmarket Men’s 1st XI are at home for a 15:30 pushback, and all are welcome to watch as they take on the Norwich Dragons 2nd XI. This is another game in which Town will be looking to improve upon this week’s performance and get all 3 points.
Above: Psychotic Scotsman Martin McCourt (lying down) brutally cleans out MOTM Jenkins as Newnes watches on in horror.
Newmarket Men’s 2s: 1-3 loss vs Norwich City Men’s 5s (Away)
The one constant in the Newmarkets M2s is change, as we have been unable to field the same team twice this season and often require players to take on different positions! We were missing Lee ‘Budda’ Blades who was holidaying in sunny Birmingham and Alex Andreou, who was welcoming a new baby into the world. (Congratulations Alex & Faye!) We welcomed David Worrall back to the fold for his first competitive game in 12 months after a bad knee injury and also Guy Woods for his first Senior hockey match.
A beautiful, if not chilly day welcomed the team to Norwich as did the aptly named, man mountain of a keeper known locally as ‘Shrek’. Newmarket had been unable to beat this fine specimen earlier in the season having lost 2:0, so a tough game was expected, but the team were desperate to pick up some points.
Newmarket started well and put Norwich under some pressure, with Jonny Bunker up front combining well with Dave Worrall and giving the Norwich defence something to think about. The one constant in the team has been the back four of Adrian Atkinson, John Benedikz, Andy Baker and Marc ‘Mungo’ Prentice, who made it difficult for the Norwich attack despite some quick and skillful players. But it was Norwich who struck first with a nicely worked short corner.
It was only a matter of minutes later when Norwich attacked down Newmarket’s left side. A well placed cross found a striker who shot with a reverse stick from a very tight angle and despite keeper Seth Bailey getting a pad on the ball, it found the goal. But there were periods when Newmarket took control of the game, using short passes, retaining possession and moving the ball while patiently waiting for an opening. It was a neat combination of passes between David Worrall, Drew Wood and finally Jonny Bunker that saw Bunker score his first goal of the season.
At half time and a score line of 2:1, this was anyone’s game and skipper Drew Wood didn’t have to say much to stoke the fire in Town’s bellies. Newmarket started the second half well although it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay on ones feet as the temperature dropped and some areas of the pitch became a little icy. A puck may have been more useful! Guy Woods had a good game in midfield and looked comfortable at this level. Every time a Norwich player fell over the whistle was blown against Newmarket and frustration began to surface. Stick tackles were not being equally punished as first Dan Labuschagne saw green only to be followed by David Worrall who, in traditional John McEnroe style, asked if the Umpire was serious resulting in a yellow card and the customary DoD. Meanwhile, ice cool Andy Baker steadied the ship at the back earning himself MoM and incredibly managed to block every short corner that was struck from the top of the D. But despite the team’s best efforts, a well worked move from the Norwich midfield and some clean 1-2 passes took the ball into the Newmarket ‘D’, the striker drawing Seth Bailey out before taking his shot. Bailey got something on it and the ball bounced almost in slow motion as Mungo charged onto the line trying to make a clearance, but he was unable to make contact and both the ball and Mungo ended up in the net. Again.
Newmarket now find themselves third from bottom of the league amongst a group of five teams separated by only one point. One of these is next weeks opponents, North Norfolk 2s, making this a critical game.
Newmarket Ladies’ 1s: 1-4 loss vs Cambridge Nomads Ladies’ 1s (Home)
This was the Newmarket Ladies’ 1s second game of 2016 and their first at home. The L2s had their game beforehand with a start time of 12pm, however after 9 minutes of game time, the umpires deemed the pitch too unsafe to carry on, due to a buildup of frost on the pitch. With a pushback time of 2pm, the pitch had time for a bit more sun exposure and defrosted enough for the L1’s game to go ahead. From the start, Town came out strong and within the first 15 minutes a lovely run and pass from Di Thomas to Beth Wombwell led to Newmarket scoring the first goal of the game. However, ten minutes later Nomads also managed to score, making the score at half time one-all. Sadly, the second half of the game didn’t pan out as well for Newmarket, Cambridge managing to score three more goals from short corners and Newmarket couldn’t reply with the opportunities they had.
Newmarket Ladies’ 2s: Match abandoned after 9 minutes with score 0-0 vs Leadenham Ladies’ 1s due to frozen pitch (Home)
Newmarket Ladies’ 3s: Match postponed vs Cambridge South Ladies’ 3s due to frozen pitch (Away)