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Away victory at Letchworth keeps Harleston Magpies in the East Men’s League Premier A title race

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Harleston Magpies I remain firmly in the East Men’s League Premier A title hunt following Saturday’s 5-1 win away at Letchworth.

It was a result that continued a positive return to action for the second-placed side, who were playing for just the second time since early December owing to the Christmas break and recent indoor campaign.

After a slow start from both teams it was Harleston that broke the deadlock in the seventh minute.

Hockey - Harleston Magpies Men's I v St Albans. Dave Gilbert. (6700130)
Hockey - Harleston Magpies Men's I v St Albans. Dave Gilbert. (6700130)

The hosts defended a long corner well but as they attempted to fully clear their lines Jack Hobbs regained possession for Magpies and he eventually picked out Dave Gilbert to break the deadlock via a deflection off the Letchworth goalkeeper.

However, after creating the opening goal for his side Hobbs was unable to prevent the home team from drawing level soon after.

A shot took a deflection off Andrew Bedwell and then hit Hobbs’ foot on the line, with the ball flying into the roof of the net.

It remained a goal apiece heading into the break, but Magpies returned for the second half much the stronger and they ended up firing in four goals without reply.

Gilbert restored the lead when he turned in a cross from debutant Tom Dunnett before Tom Ridely and James Gray combined for the latter to score an almost identical goal, opening up a 3-1 advantage in the process.

Harleston then won a short corner and after failing to convert twice, it was third time lucky with the veterans at it again.

Bedwell delivered the ball to Leigh Sitch, who smartly deflected the ball high past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

And the scoring was completed by Hobbs after player-coach Tim Whiteman had set up the chance with a break from midfield.

Magpies, who have scored five goals in back-to-back outings, will aim to carry on their positive form when they travel to neighbouring Ipswich I tomorrow (11am).

Ipswich go into the derby encounter sitting sixth in the standings and are on a run of four straight victories either side of Christmas.

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