Newmarket Men’s 1s: 2-1 win vs North Norfolk Men’s 1s (Away)
Newmarket Men’s 2s: 4-0 win vs Ipswich Cranes Men’s 1s (Home)
(Andreou 2, Blades 2)
Going into this game against Ipswich Cranes first team, there were only 5 matches remaining and Newmarket were second from bottom, staring into the abyss that is relegation. The significance of this game was lost on no one, least of all skipper, leader of men and goose bump inducing orator, Drew Wood. But once the Cranes had landed in a flurry of feathers and commenced nest building in the visitors dugout, we discovered their Captain was Will Smith! There was a quickening of pulses among the female fans at the side of the pitch as make up was touched up, but it soon became clear this was no ‘Hollywood A Lister’, but just a common Crane of the feathered variety.
Warm up complete, Wood mustered his troops together. He first answered a few questions about team tactics and his new mullet, and then launched into his Obamaesque state of the nation speech. It was rousing, motivating and once the spittle had been removed from the players faces, the clear, take home message was STAY ON THE PITCH. No doubt this sentiment was the result of the green and yellow cards seen in earlier games and the pin sharp intellect of a Captain that recognises the disadvantage of having players ‘sin binned.’
Having lost the away game 3:2 on the bouncy blue pitch that is anathema to the M2’s, a strong start was essential. And so it was as Newmarket took the game to the Cranes with such intensity that the pecking order was soon established. Looking resplendent in their golden yellow colours it wasn’t long before Newmarket were preening themselves whilst the blue and grey plumage of the Cranes looked drab and wilted. Ten minutes into the game some excellent attacking hockey resulted in a penalty corner and after a short huddle, Wood called the play as if ordering a Chinese takeaway. For the first time this season he yelled “69” (Crispy Crane in Plum Sauce) and we knew this would be something special. Up stepped Alex Andreou also sporting a new mullet, as stopper and striker whilst John Benedikz injected. Andreou looked to the skies calling upon his Greek forebears particularly Heracles that paragon of masculinity (ignore the mullet Heracles!). Now with molten steel running through his veins, Andreou stopped the perfect injection with one touch and drilled the ball into the net. It was a joyous climax to the perfect ‘69’ and Newmarket were in the lead.
Keeper Seth Bailey was well protected by a back four of Adrian Atkinson, John Benedikz, Andy Baker and Dave Worrall who combined well and created a near impenetrable wall of defence. They used the width well, often switching play and it was Worrall who found Wood on the left at the half way line. A single touch pass found Lee ‘Budda’ Blades to the left of the Cranes ‘D’ and his one touch pass found Will Hosegood on the right. Hosegood held onto the ball drawing the keeper while Budda composed himself ready for the return pass and when it came, his diving shot found the net to make it 2:0.
At half time Captain Wood asked for more of the same passing hockey as the team were controlling the game and he again reiterated the importance of everyone STAYING ON THE PITCH. The second half began with the same intensity and the Cranes struggled to get into the game. The midfield was dominated by Wood, Andreou, Dan Labuschagne and James ‘Tag’ McTaggart with James Atkinson and a visiting Alwyn ‘Jimmy’ Robinson as subs. When it came, the third goal was straight out of the text books with a dash of pure class. Jimmy picked up the ball at around the halfway mark and drove into the 23m area finding a perfect pass to Hosegood in the right of the ‘D’. Hosegood unselfishly drew the keeper and laid it off to Budda on the penalty spot to make it 3:0.
Although 3:0 up this had not been a walk in the park and the Cranes had no intention of migrating without a flight, sorry fight. Fatigue was beginning to set in and there were times when Captain Drew Wood looked disheveled with a strand of hair out of place. He appeared lightheaded, perhaps drunk on success as his running became laboured and he started to stumble over invisible obstacles. The stretcher bearers were already warming up expecting the worst when after what could be loosely described as a run down the left flank, Wood was blown up for an infringement and as he ran back to defend the free hit, he stumbled over the ball, ‘accidentally’ kicking it into touch. Had it not been for the cage it could have found its way onto Newmarket High Street! The umpire was none too pleased and flashed Wood a green card and what was to be DoD for his second green in 2 weeks and for not listening to the Captain’s instructions regarding STAYING ON THE PITCH.
Newmarket continued to dominate and with about 10 minutes to go Andreou went on a long apparently lazy run. Stick tackles rained in from left, right and centre as he approached the ‘D’ tracking from right to left along the top edge looking for a gap, the goal to his right. The umpires continued to allow the advantage until he was central opposite the goal and just inside the line. It was here that he unleashed a tomahawk that Tonto would have been proud of securing a 4:0 victory for the team and MoM for himself.
An extra 3 points to the campaign tally and a loss for bottom placed Ipswich 3’s opened up a small gap of 4 points and took Newmarket out of the drop zone on goal difference. The other results didn’t go in Newmarkets favour as Norwich Dragons and IES-4 both notched up wins. With 4 games remaining, it’s all to play for but for today, Newmarket were victorious against a team that arrived as Cranes and left as Pigeons and the visitors dugout looking like the bottom of a budgie cage.
Newmarket Ladies’ 1s: 3-2 win vs Alford & District Ladies’ 1s (Home)
Newmarket Ladies’ 2s: 0-5 loss vs Spalding Ladies’ 2s (Home)
Newmarket Ladies 2s have been struggling this season with some very tough teams to beat, and this week was no different. With the weather looking miserable, the blue and yellows made their way onto the pitch with the determination to fight a good fight. Knowing they had yet another tough opponent, but with some more experienced faces in the team, they dug deep and showed Spalding what they were made of. Spalding took an early lead, working the ball past the defensive four of Hannah Rowley, Jess Felton-Page, Jazz Freed and the returning Faye Andreou. Their right forward was too quick for Rowley and managed to get round into the D before crossing the ball, and it was slipped behind goalie Jess Boyle. Despite some great defensive work from Newmarket, a misplaced foot from Zoe Bailey in the goal saw Spalding awarded a penalty flick, which resulted in a 2-0 lead. But Newmarket’s heads were up and they managed to play out the remainder of the first half with no more goals conceded, Bea Jones making some great runs up the right wing up to the attacking D. Unfortunately though, she was unable to convert these to a goal.
The second half saw Spalding score a third goal, but they were held off for a long time before they were able to find the back of the net with some fantastic defending skills, especially from Jess Felton-Page whose ball skills saw her dribble the ball around the Spalding attacker and out of the D. Newmarket were able to win a short corner (something which has proved difficult in previous games) but the Spalding defence were too quick in clearing the ball after Helen Hansgate’s initial strike was intercepted. After a hard fight, Newmarket were getting tired and it started to show as Spalding managed 2 more goals before the final whistle. Final score, 5-0 to Spalding 2s. Man of the Match – Bea Jones.
Top: Jess Felton-Page jinks past a Spalding attacker. Bottom: MoM Bea Jones channels the Spalding left winger out wide.
Newmarket Ladies’ 3s: 0-5 loss vs Ely City Ladies’ 2s (Away)
Above: Young keeper Jersey Bennett prepares to dive for a shot driven in despite the best efforts of Captain Vicky Benedikz.
Click here to view photographs of the match by Michael Bennett.