Magpies close the gap with triumph over Chelmsford

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INVESTEC WOMEN’S

HOCKEY LEAGUE

CONFERENCE EAST

Harleston Magpies 3

Chelmsford 0

Harleston Magpies Ladies closed in on the top half of the Conference East after beating Chelmsford 3-0 at Weybread on Saturday.

Magpies went into their weekend clash with Chelmsford in confident form, having held league leaders Slough to a goalless draw in their previous outing.

With the memory of their away defeat at Chelmsford earlier in the season in the back of their minds, Harleston were keen to seek revenge and improve their league position.

Magpies started the game well and with the forward line putting Chelmsford’s defence under increasing pressure, it was not long before the deadlock was broken.

After a driving run and a defensive lapse, Emma Lee-Smith found herself in space at the top of the circle, and she made no mistake in firing her shot into the top left corner.

The visitors did come back into the game for a spell and created some good openings going forward, but the defensive line of Lucy Belsey, Kath Johnson and Katrina Sitch soaked up the pressure.

Just before the break Magpies extended their lead. After a good early pass from Lucy Whiting found Lee-Smith in space, and after a strong run, she played the ball through to Lizzie Clymer, who was well-positioned to guide it home.

At 2-0 Harleston knew their job was not done, as Chelmsford’s high forwards were always a danger.

However, the hosts made the perfect start to the second-half when an excellent through ball from Susan Wessels found Lee-Smith one-on-one with the Chelmsford goalkeeper.

Lee-Smith calmly dribbled round the keeper and struck the ball into the net in style to make it 3-0.

Despite the three goal cushion, Magpies were forced deeper and deeper by Chelmsford and had to park their notorious bus to keep any goal threats at bay.

The visitors certainly had chances to get themselves back into the game, including a number of short corners.

But ultimately they were left empty-handed and frustrated, as a resolute Magpies performance gave the home side the points.

Harleston remain in seventh place, but ahead of their trip to third place St Albans tomorrow (1pm), have closed the gap on this weekend’s opponents to just three points.

With five games of the season left to go, Magpies head into the end of season run-in third on the form table.

Nick McAllen’s side have won two and drawn two of their last five games to pick up eight points.

Harleston Magpies Ladies: L Belsey (c), C Lee-Smith, K Johnson, K Sitch, L Barber, D Francis, L Greenacre, C Harrison, L Whiting, M Redgrove, E Lee-Smith, S Wessels, A Gooderham, L Clymer, L Mickleburgh.