Men’s 1s: 6-1 win vs Harleston Magpies 3 (Home)
(Bell 2, Holden, Jenkins, Pears, Wilson)
Following last week’s resounding win in Lowestoft, Newmarket were missing Vice Captain and central defender Jordan Newnes, resulting in flamboyant midfielder Ollie Wade dutifully dropping into the back line. Town this week faced a team they had lost to twice to last season and this time they were sitting top of the table and unbeaten. The match was obviously going to be quite a battle so it was a good thing most of the squad arrived early enough to have their first proper warm up in weeks. However, somewhat predictably, Will Wilson didn’t, and his preparation consisted of a sprint (to the pitch), some shoulder rotations (dropping his stick bag at the gate), tackling (the match ball from of an unfortunate Magpies forward), dribbling (repeatedly around said hapless striker) and finally passing (aka belting the ball up field so he could do his laces up). Quite an entrance, and yet nothing on what was to come.
The game started with Newmarket playing with intensity and pressing high up in the opposition’s half. Town’s central midfield trio of Chris Leggett, Matt Holden and Josh Dawson were combining well and provided a couple of decent opportunities for Mike Skelton and wide players Harry Bell and Mark Pears. In this vein, Town were the first to strike, the goal coming from some fast combination play leading to right back Darren Jenkins crashing home only his second ever goal for the firsts and sparking wild celebrations among the assembled partisan hordes (seriously, there were actually quite a few!).
The second goal came soon after and again involved fluid movement from Dawson, Leggett and Skelton, with left winger Bell dispatching the ball against the backboard from a tight angle and sending the team into dreamland. At this point, Newmarket’s back line hadn’t really been troubled too often, with Ollie Wade and ‘Warmup’ Wilson providing good cover down the centre whilst transferring the ball from flank to flank as often as possible. Any attacks a stunned Magpies front line could mount were soon foiled, the aforementioned dynamic duo regaining possession and feeding the ball out to full backs Jenkins and Louis Hrebeniak who looked to take the ball forwards with gusto.
Newmarket continued to give the top of the table side a right royal runaround, but they did hit a stumbling block when Harleston broke into the ‘D’, made good use of a couple of mildly/extremely fortunate deflections and managed to nick one goal back via a tap in at the far post. However, Newmarket were not about to let this spoil their day and went straight back on the attack, pressing the visiting team’s defensive line so high that Harleston mistakes and Town turnovers were fifteen to the dozen. This showed when some great play by Wade and Skelton won a penalty stroke, which was the cue for his-flickness Will Wilson to trundle forwards and step up to the plate. It is a tribute to the measure of the man that Newmarket were too busy squabbling over who had won the ball back to watch him take it, so certain were they he’d score. And score he did, of course – in his 25 years of playing league hockey he has never missed a flick, except of course against ‘safe feet’ Hrebeniak at training. I’m having that. 3-1.
Then came an extended spell of Magpies pressure, including the only short corner conceded by Town in the game, a ‘tactical’ foot off Hrebeniak (you’re not in goal now, sunshine) following a fast Harleston break. However, the back line held firm and did not concede again, although Martin ‘Armbands’ McCourt had plenty of swimming lessons around his goalmouth and made a number of excellent saves, one of which was nothing short of outstanding. It was actually on the counter from this that Newmarket continued their fast breaking play and won a short corner with Pears cutting in from the right flank. Injector Leggett moved the ball out to stopper Skelton who laid the ball off for Wade to drag flick, the shot was palmed away by the keeper but only as far as skipper Holden, who gleefully crashed the ball past the helpless defenders and high into the Magpies net. An absolute blockbuster that sent Newmarket in 4-1 up at half time, and a dazed Harleston side trudging over to their dugout wondering exactly what had hit them (in the case of a certain left winger, it was in fact Wilson’s backside).
At half time, Captain Holden, Wilson and Wade talked about keeping the intensity going, as Harleston simply couldn’t compete with Newmarket’s superior pressing. However, the next goal would be key against a side with such undoubted quality in their ranks.
The second half started in the manner that Town had ended the first, showing off the fast paced, attacking style of hockey the team have become known for under the watchful eye of new coach Adnan Zakir. Newmarket then began to use the width more by moving the ball quickly from side to side via the deep midfielders and centre backs Wilson & Wade. This was some of the best hockey a Newmarket side had played for a long time and the spectators were enjoying the entertaining match on show. After a period of frantic play in the midfield and a magnificent overhead goal line clearance by Chris Leggett, Newmarket made another of their trademark counter-attacking moves via Hrebeniak, who took the ball forwards and found Holden who in turn fed Skelton. In an outrageous display of quality, Skelton slid a perfectly timed ball to Bell at the top of the ‘D’ who brilliantly rounded the keeper and tapped home for 5-1. Harleston couldn’t believe how well their opposition were playing (Newmarket couldn’t quite work it out themselves, but weren’t complaining) and found themselves another goal down a few minutes later. Dawson moved into space, then slid the ball perfectly into the path of a Pears darting run. He turns, he shoots, he scores! A well deserved goal to round off an excellent performance by Newmarket’s resident ginger ninja and to settle the score at 6-1.
The last few minutes were nothing more than a formality for Magpies who, recognising they were simply outclassed by Town on the day, shut up shop and played out the remaining moments camped on the edge of their ‘D’. However, with both teams tiring, few further chances were created and the game finished 6-1.
This is a game Newmarket should look to as a benchmark on how well they can play when they put their minds to it. A huge improvement is obvious when you compare the team to earlier parts of the season, and the lads have turned out each week with a slight improvement on the last. Lots of positives can be taken from the performance with huge amounts of possession for the team, but even more can be achieved with further work on pressing. However, everyone in the team should be proud of this match as it showcased some of the best hockey Newmarket have played in recent memory.
Next week, Newmarket Men’s 1s are at home for a 15:00 pushback. All are welcome to watch us take on Norwich Dragons 2s in our final game before Christmas – and if this performance is anything to go by, head on down to see some fantastic attacking hockey and three more points for your local side.
Joint effort, Hrebeniak & Holden. We miss you Newnes!!
Men’s 2s: 4-6 loss vs Lowestoft Railway 2 (Away)
(B. Atkinson, Baker, Harrington, Lister)
A long trek to Lowestoft for the Newmarket side for a very important match to stay in the league against bottom of the table. It was clear that the home side had an abundance of sand as their pitch was barely visible under the piles of it and I’m not fully exaggerating. The home side were definitely used to the surface as Newmarket saw them accelerate quickly and before long two of the opposition had managed to tap a ball around defender Andy Baker resulting in a two on one with the keeper which resulted in their first goal. The home side being used to their sandpit was an undisputed advantage; accelerating and stopping (and gripping) much better than Newmarket side. The ball was then chased around the pitch with both sides sliding everywhere however Lowestoft were creating forms of attacks on a more regular basis. However Newmarket managed to find a break into the oppositions area gaining a short corner which was set up with Captain Drew Wood injecting. An unorthodox play then followed as he flicked it over everyone in the area over to Andy Baker who controlled the ball and fired it onto the backboard to score the leveling 1-1 goal. The ball was again contested for with right back Marc ‘Mungo’ Prentice making a great effort and some goal line saves which were greatly appreciated by the whole team. But the home side persisted and again with a burst of speed from the attackers found themselves free of defenders and a clear shot into the back post making it 2-1 in the closing minutes of the first half. This did not mean that either teams let up on their intensity due to the home side being reasonably equally matched to Newmarket on their pitch and Newmarket desperately needing the win. The halftime whistle sounded and the teams then had the time to clear their boots of sand and whatever else ready for the second half.
With the first half being so close and Newmarket as a collective feeling and knowing their standard of hockey was far superior to that of Railway, the second half began with high intensity from the trailing side. Ollie Trent weaved in and out of their defence, creating space for fellow midfielders Pete Booth, Drew Wood and Ben Atkinson to attack both on the wings and through the centre of the park, leading to the words “No one’s marking number !£@$%&* 4” being uttered on numerous occasions. Soon after the commencing of the second half Simon Harrington created a break in the middle channel utilizing the players in the middle, with linked passes through to the area, successfully beating Railways defence and picking out the back of the net. 2-2. Lowestoft reacted quickly driving with considerable pace at Newmarket’s defence to the top of the D getting away a quick shot which slipped respectably into the bottom corner. 3-2. Could this be game over? Not as far as Jonny Bunker was concerned. He approached the top of the D, neatly beating 2 Railway defenders, but scuffing the shot which fortunately rebounded off the keeper’s pads onto Ben Atkinson’s stick to be crashed into the Lowestoft backboard. 3-3. Maybe it could be done? Certainly by Simon Harrington’s thoughts it could be. Soon after the restart whistle Newmarket regained possession playing it neatly round the back then a 50 yard pass was picked out to find Matthew Lister who turned Railways last defender to get off an early top D strike clattering into the bottom corner with the keeper still standing dazed when the next centre pass was taken. 4-3. It definitely could be done! Railway decided otherwise with Andy Baker getting taken out by a Lowestoft foot follow through, resulting in broken bone and a substitute with 7 minutes to go. After this Newmarket were in horror as to what had just happened and Railway in the closing minutes capitalised on this putting past 3 quick goals to make the closing score an untrue reflection of a game NHC should have won any other day.
Final score 6-4
Men’s 3s: 0-5 loss vs Watton 2 (Away)
Ladies’ 1s: 3-3 draw vs Cambridge City 3 (Away)
(G. Evans 3)
Ladies’ 2s: 12-0 win vs Wisbech Town 3 (Home)
(Fox 5, Lankfer 2, Russell 2, Fayers, Jones, Wombwell)
Coach Chris Evans is ecstatic over Newmarket L2s performance this weekend. A consolidation of the improving hockey since September, a chance to remind the squad how goals are scored resulting in a 2nd win.
Within the first minute Newmarket had advanced to Wisbech’s D and Zoe Bailey had attempted a strike to left post. Although not successful, the atmosphere of possibility raised Newmarket’s game, all players were winning possession of the ball by strong tackles, excellent anticipation and interception of passes. Wisbech’s defence were kept busy and Newmarket were calm, finding space and passing to each other confidently: after 10 mins Hannah Fox saw in the first of Newmarket’s goals from a sweep near the left post.
Newmarket’s defence felt confident enough to advance well into the opposition’s half. This proved very useful for possession, for side-line passes to switch across field and for sprint practice when Wisbech did make breaks using their fast right wing players.
Newmarket were undoubtedly in control of the game, scoring 3 more goals in the first half: Bea Jones, Katie Russell and a second for Hannah Fox. At half time, the team were reminded to keep the structure, to communicate and move into spaces to provide multi directional options for the ball carrier.
The report writer is conscious that Wisbech are a developing team, that it is disheartening to receive this type of scoreline (we do know, we have been there oh so recently too) but credit should be given to our other goal scorers: Emma Lankfer from a strike just inside the D that exhibited perfect angles to send to ball across defence, keeper and slamming against the inside left post, another from a solid top D strike on a penalty corner and a third attempt which met a Wisbech defender’s foot on the goal-line and gave her a temporary limp and Newmarket a penalty stroke. Angel Fayers stepped up and planted the ball with the force of someone determined to get her name on the team’s goal score roll. Angel also sent a strike across goal in match play which was undoubtedly going in but Man of the Match Hannah Fox, wishing to make sure (some would say “poaching”) just added the extra touch to ensure the goal; she did this again to a fast slap shot from Lydia Willmott shortly after, then scored her 5th goal, details of which have disappeared into a dizzy winning fog, and then went on to assist relative newcomer Charlie Wombwell’s first Newmarket senior goal. Charlie paid forward this favour and assisted Katie Russell to her second goal of the match.
The entire field worked tirelessly, excellent teamwork was shown on pitch by covering players who seized opportunities to travel up the pitch and by rotating subsitutions on the forward and midfield line. The longest time between goals was 11 minutes and the shortest time was less than 1 minute. Wisbech were a cheerful opposition, the match was good natured and L2s have much to look forward to in the next half of their season. Next week, a home fixture, is against St Ives who may not be ready for the transformation in skill and team play from Newmarket L2s since their first meeting 12 weeks ago.
Ladies’ 3s: 1-9 loss vs Bury St Edmunds 3 (Home)
This week saw the ladies third team take on Bury Saint Edmunds threes who are sitting pretty near the top of the table.
After last weeks cancellation due to frost the ladies threes were disappointed to wake up Saturday morning to find frost and fog again. Quick checks of the pitch from early on lead to many conversations as to whether the pitch was okay to play on and secondly with the fog if visibility was good enough. The final decision was made with barely 10 minutes in hand, to go ahead, before the game started.
We knew it was going to be a tough game and a tough game was delivered. while all started off well, shortly into the first half saw vice captain Sarah Ganiford being sent off with a green card. Newmarket quickly rearranged to fill the gap. Bury broke early getting two goals however Newmarket continue to fight and an early break saw the girls awarded a short corner. During the short corner the ball was taken in, seeing Laura Smith picking up a rebound which she popped straight into the back of the box. Rachel Pegg took a nasty blow to the foot which saw her limping off field. Halftime saw the ladies at 4-1 down. Play in the second half was interrupted by Sarah Ganiford taking a stick to the face and having to be taken off with a nosebleed. Following Sarah’s exit Newmarket were unable to get their defence to settle down and bury took advantage leaving the final score as a 9-1 loss. The girls as a whole were very disappointed with the game. Onwards and upwards though as they take on Newmarket 4s at home next week.
Man of the match went to goalie jersey Bennett who despite the scoreline put in plenty of top drawer saves!
Ladies’ 4s: 1-6 loss vs Royston 2 (Away)