Newmarket Men’s 1s: 6-1 win vs Sudbury Men’s 2s (Home)
(Holden 2, Leggett, McTaggart, Skelton, Wilson)
Newmarket 1s approached their final fixture prior to Christmas as the form-team in the league – being on a 3-match winning streak (16 for, 4 against). Their opponents at a windy Newmarket Leisure Centre were Sudbury 2s, lying second from bottom with only a single win so far. However, Newmarket knew it would be a tough game as the inimitable Nick Thorpe was sure to have masterminded a strategy based on his in-depth knowledge of the Newmarket squad. Newmarket started with the wind at their back and quickly pressed, as per captain Holden’s instructions. These early attacks bore quick fruit as an early short corner was expertly dispatched by Will Wilson – low to the keeper’s left. Buoyed by this early success, Newmarket continued pouring forwards with Sam Smith and Michael Skelton pulling all the strings in the Sudbury half. However, the next goal was elusive and Sudbury were not going away. The deadlock was broken as Matt Holden scored Newmarket’s third. And, as the end of the half approached, Newmarket managed one more as James ‘Tag’ McTaggart picked up the pieces from a blocked short-corner shot and lifted a finish over the keeper. 3-0 at half time.
After a rousing half time talk Newmarket were instructed to make their dominance pay in the form of goals. However, the wind, which was now gale force and in their faces, conspired to make things difficult. Newmarket attacked relentlessly and Michael Skelton scored an early goal. This was backed up by a goal from an unusual source – Chris Leggett, who had thus far been breaking up all attacks that made it through to the Newmarket half, popped up as the highest man on the pitch to poke home after another scramble in the D. The middle of the second half was a scrappy affair. Newmarket lost its formation as the rotating subs from the day’s squad of 14 left some players in unusual positions. Thankfully, Louis Hrebeniak took his new role in the centre of defence in his stride and delivered a typically solid performance, ably assisted by Darren Jenkins and Jordan Newnes. Sudbury still refused to give in and continued to press whenever they could. With Simon Harrington absent from the pitch (likely trying to find the mask from his DOTD outfit, which apparently blew away in the wind) and Hrebeniak unusually out of position, there was a large hole in the middle of the Newmarket defence. A route-one ball found Sudbury’s youngest player alone in the D; he deflected the ball towards the Newmarket goal. Unfortunately, Newmarket’s oldest player, Martin McCourt found himself wrong-footed and the ball crossed the line. A rare mis-step from Newmarket’s Scotland number 1 – a case of youth overcoming wisdom? The rest of the half was reasonably forgettable (i.e. I can’t remember much about it). I do, however, remember the following: Michael Skelton unleashed an undercut that bounced back off the crossbar, Harry Bell was unfortunate to receive a green card, Josh Dawson and Darren Jenkins continued to work well together down the right. Finally, with the wind taking its toll on Newmarket’s legs, there was enough energy for one final goal as a piercing through ball was expertly picked up by skipper Matt Holden, who shimmied past his defender and buried the ball in the far corner of the net, making it 6-1 at the end.
Scorers (for the season): Wilson 1 (9), McTaggart 1 (6), Holden 2 (9), Leggett 1 (1), Skelton 1 (4)
MOTM: Skelton (assists, goal, generally awesome)
DOTD: Holden (strange formation in the second half)
Newmarket Men’s 2s: 2-2 draw vs Harleston Magpies Men’s 4s (Away)
This was to be the first of the M2’s ‘return’ matches of the season. Having beaten Harleston Magpies in the opening game at home and being 5 points behind them in the league, a difficult game was expected as Town headed East. A squad of 15 was taken and Newmarket welcomed Ben Atkinson into the side for his first senior level game, complementing youngsters Rory Podd and Oscar Kenny. Harleston have a great facility including 2 pitches, (thankfully, neither of them blue) one water based which was given a good drenching ahead of the wind swept game.
Newmarket set out their intentions very early on in the game and from the push back attacked the Magpies goal relentlessly. It took only a few minutes for Lee ‘Budda’ Blades to get on the end of a pass into the ‘D’ and put Newmarket into the lead. Town played some of their best hockey this season and were playing as a team with some intricate play that Magpies couldn’t cope with. This was certainly not the team Town expected to be playing based on their first meeting. It was about 15 minutes into the game when Alex Andreou drove a ball hard into the left hand side of the ‘D’ that looked at first to be heading wide. But Budda timed his run to perfection and torpedoed the ball into the goal, almost tearing through the right hand netting. The Magpies keeper stood rooted to the spot as Newmarket celebrated being 2:0 up and Budda his brace.
Newmarket continued to dominate the game although there were times when keeper Seth Bailey had to make some excellent saves as Magpies reminded us they were still in the game. But the back line looked solid and comfortable in dealing with the Magpies attack. Both Rory Podd and Oscar Kenny had good games as they continue to develop and Ben Atkinson’s debut was something to be proud of as he settled in quickly. Newmarket continued to create chances in the second half, three times hitting the post and drawing some excellent saves from the Magpies keeper who kept them in the game. An excellent move between Andreou, Mark ‘Arsenal’ Pears and Budda opened up the goal as Budda drew the keeper out of position and laid the ball perfectly to the right of goal into the path of the oncoming Newmarket player. All that was needed now was an experienced player, fleet of foot and sound of mind to slot the ball in. That was when Pete Boyle arrived on the scene and miraculously pushed the ball wide of the right hand upright. The faint sound of breaking glass carried on the wind from the clubhouse as a spectator dropped his pint glass, but it could be heard clearly as silence fell across both pitches and everyone stood open mouthed. But as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and the decision to be made for the recipient of DoD was now a foregone conclusion.
It’s difficult to explain what happened in the last 15 minutes of the game. Were Newmarket tiring, losing concentration, or just unlucky? Magpies managed to pull a goal back which gave them some hope. But even at 2:1, Newmarket were still dominating the game and continued to go close to adding to their tally. However, in the final seconds, Magpies were awarded a penalty corner. Town had successfully defended several short corners and looked comfortable, but this one found the net. Magpies’ celebrations showed how lucky they felt to be collecting a point from the game and the looks on the faces of the Newmarket players showed just how disappointing it was to lose two.
Man of the Match was Seth Bailey for another demonstration of agile and effective goalkeeping when he was called upon. After a cancellation due to a water logged pitch, the next game will be in two weeks time as we head out to Norwich to play Pelicans M3s, where we hope for a dry spell and properly cooked pasties.
Newmarket Ladies’ 1s: 1-1 draw vs Cambridge City Ladies’ 3s (Home)
The game started with Newmarket strong on the attack, working the ball around the pitch easily. Cambridge City managed to win the ball back though and make a break towards Newmarket’s defence, but as always, Rebecca Bunning was there to make sure it got no further and fed the ball back to the midfield.
In the first half Newmarket were against the wind, making it hard to construct a speedy attack, but they persevered and managed to pressure City’s defence and get some shots on goal – Town were unfortunately unable to convert them to goals though. The game wasn’t going either team’s way, with Newmarket kept from netting a ball and Newmarket keeper Claire Spiers making some great saves to stop City taking a lead. Finally though, birthday girl Donna Keates was able to break the deadlock and slipped the ball over the line. The Newmarket defense held up, keeping them in the lead into half time.
Starting the second half, the Newmarket defence was immediately under pressure and working hard – the back four, made up of Bunning, Steph Howard, Jess Felton-Page and Captain Tania Fisher, worked well together to clear the ball. Uncoordinated play from Newmarket meant they were unable to secure a second goal, meaning, with just a 1-0 lead it was a dangerous game and eventually City were able to even the score leaving the final score at 1-1.
Above: Goalkeeper Claire Spiers brilliantly denies a City striker to preserve Town’s lead.
Newmarket Ladies’ 2s: 1-7 loss vs Haverhill Ladies’ 1s (Away)
On a high from the previous week’s win, Newmarket went to Haverhill with hope for the last game of the year, trying to earn 2 consecutive wins.
The wind was blustering and Newmarket were immediately caught off guard when Haverhill were able to slip an early goal in behind keeper Jess Boyle. Not to be deterred, they carried on with some great hockey. Clodie Rolph in the centre made some great tackles, winning the ball and feeding to Hannah Kelly and a waiting Olivia Haste at the front. Due to a personal matter, Newmarket lost Sarah Ganiford from defence in the first half and Hannah Rowley came on as sub, immediately getting stuck into channeling the Haverhill players down to the left corner. It was a tough half, with both teams fighting hard and gaining possession. Haverhill managed to get two more goals before the half time whistle, leaving the score at 3-0.
A half time team talk from Captain Holly Woods and coach Chris Evans told the team their performance was good, they just needed to get the goals they deserved. This clearly had some affect as Hannah Fox was able to slip a goal into the net soon into the second half of the game.
Unfortunately though, they couldn’t hold off Haverhill any longer and throughout the second half 4 more goals got by, despite the defence giving it their best effort (which included quite a spectacular sideways roll display by Woods for which she earned DotD).
Newmarket Ladies’ 3s: 2-1 win vs St Neots Ladies’ 3s (Home)
Despite the rather blustery weather, Newmarket Ladies’ 3s took to the pitch with hopes of finishing 2015 on a high and securing the maximum 3 points in consecutive weeks.
With a squad of 15, the starting line-up was a complimentary mixture of senior and junior players, all working together to achieve the same aim; a win. Newmarket had the first touch of the ball and started as they meant to go on, pressing St. Neots into their own half and launching an onslaught of attacks on the opposition’s goal. The new partnership of PoM Jane Dryland and Verity MacMahon secured Newmarket’s opener. Play built from a sideline ball, passed in by Sophie Bell to Captain Rach Pegg, who played the ball wide to a waiting Helen Hansgate. Hansgate linked up with right-winger Rachel Hogg with some excellent one-two passing, the ball was crossed into MacMahon who slipped it to Dryland for her to dink the ball between the keeper’s legs with an ever-so-satisfying clunk on the backboard.
Newmarket kept the intensity until Dryland secured their second on the stroke of half-time. Birthday girl Vicky Benedikz and Charlotte Abersteen drove the ball down the left flank, ably assisted by centre-half Sam Brooke; Brooke received the ball on top-D, only to be fouled by the Neots defence. The ensuing short corner enabled the Newmarket offence to show how much they’ve developed in recent weeks; working together to draw the defence out, they enabled space to be created for MacMahon to cross the ball to a ready and waiting Dryland, securing her third goal in just two weeks.
St Neots pressed Newmarket hard early in the second half, but the blue and yellow machine kept composure, and with the whole team fighting to keep the win, Emily Fairweather, Jess Farrow and Georgia Rolls worked hard in midfield to hold the ball up and keep it away from Claire Spiers’ goal. With the wind against them, and St. Neots being awarded a short corner fairly close to the end of play, the visiting team somehow managed to sneak the ball behind Spiers and under Bell’s stick to bring the final score to 2-1.
A fantastic end to 2015, and a thoroughly deserved 3 points now carries Newmarket 3s into the New Year, where they next face Haverhill 2s away.
Above: Captain Rach Pegg leads the charge as the L3s rush a St Neots penalty corner.