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Harleston Magpies aiming for top-six finish in Investec Women’s Hockey League Division One South

While securing their Investec Women’s Hockey League Division One South status is the first target, player-coach Emma Lee-Smith is hoping Harleston Magpies Ladies I can challenge for a top-six finish this season.

In what is the second tier of women’s hockey in the country, most weeks Magpies will be up against teams with previous Premier Division experience and players that have performed on the international stage.

For some that could be a daunting prospect, but Lee-Smith is excited for the months ahead, fuelled by the belief that Magpies can more than hold their own.

Hockey action from Harleston Magpies Ladies I v Sevenoaks....Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. (17529709)
Hockey action from Harleston Magpies Ladies I v Sevenoaks....Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. (17529709)

“We have gone up after the restructure and it is important that we do not go straight back down,” she said.

“We are now one of the top sides in East Anglia and that helps when it comes to things like attracting players to the club and sponsorship.

“It is difficult to judge in terms of setting targets because we are playing sides we have never faced before.

“We know they have Premier Division experience and there are plenty of international players, so it is going to be much tougher, but we still want to be looking at the top six – that is the aim.

“It is really exciting. To have full international players coming down to Magpies on a regular basis is fabulous and it is going to be a great experience, especially for our younger players.”

Nick McAllen will once again manage the team, but there have also been additions behind the scenes with Rob Wagstaff, Annie Nunn and Lee-Smith all joining the coaching ranks.

Lee-Smith explained: “Rob has played for the club before and so knows all about us and Annie will be working on the fitness side of things.

“If we are going to properly compete with the top teams in the league we had to be as professional as possible.

“It is all about moving with the times and gaining more and more knowledge.”

New signings Georgia Linnell, Sophia Bassett and Olivia Thomas are all set to make their competitive debuts for Magpies during Saturday’s opening game on the road at Kent-based Canterbury (2pm), while Cherry Seabourn is also back with the team after spending a number of years playing hockey in the USA and London.

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