ENGLAND HOCKEY LEAGUE
Harleston Magpies 1
Harleston Magpies marked the return of the outdoor season with a heavy defeat away at Southgate.
Up against a side that had made a number of additions to their squad during the winter break, the Magpies struggled to gain any real momentum throughout the contest.
They fell behind in the fifth minute when Southgate’s Jonty Robinson converted a penalty corner and the South Africa International doubled his side’s lead soon after.
At 2-0 down, Harleston started to come into the game and they had an opportunity to get on the scoresheet from a penalty corner of their own, but Zum Akhtar was unable to make a clean connection.
Instead, it was the home team that were able to add the encounter’s third goal before the break.
The visitors started the second half positively, only to fall further behind within five minutes when Southgate scored a fourth goal from open play.
However, having created a handful of chances up until that point. Harleston were able to finally break their duck in the 52nd minute.
Richard Larkin carried the ball down the right flank and he then picked out player-coach Ben Wright, who was able to deflect the ball into the net with a first time flick from inside the circle.
Buoyed by Wright’s strike, Harleston pushed forward in search of further goals and it seemed that their cause had been aided when Southgate were reduced to 10 men.
Yet, despite having a numerical disadvantage to contend with, Southgate were able to exploit the gaps in the Harleston defence to score two further goals in the closing stages.
The result has left the Magpies rooted to the bottom of the Men’s Conference East Division, with five points from their 12 outings.
n Harleston Magpies Ladies first team return to outdoor league action for the first time since November 28, when they take on League leaders Slough at home tomorrow (2pm).
Slough seem almost certain to win the England Hockey League, Conference East after opening up a comfortable gap on second placed Hampstead and Westminster.
Ironically, Magpies are the only team to have defeated Slough this season when they beat them 1-0 away.
With the first team involved in the Indoor National League and youth players in the Junior Indoor National finals, preparation time for the start of the outdoor league has been difficult.
Magpies are currently sixth in the league, three points off third place and seven points off the relegation play off spot.
Molly Redgrove is set to make her league debut.