MEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE
West Herts 7
Harleston Magpies 3
Harleston Magpies travelled to Watford for their last game of the season with a light squad to playt West Herts, with their fate already sealed .
Magpies made the worst possible start to the game as within 15 minutes they were four goals down, with Max and Dan Webster running riot.
The away side could have capitulated but regrouped and managed to pull two quick goals back to make it 4-2.
The first was a converted penalty-stroke from Ben Wright, following a foot first diving tackle which upended Stuart Leate as he was about to pull the trigger.
West Herts were also reduced to 10 players for 10 minutes after the tackle, with Harleston scoring a second goal when Stuart Leate moped up from the baseline after following up the rebound from his initial shot at goal.
The home side then extended their lead to go 5-2 in front, before Magpies grabbed a third goal of the game when Matt Riches was released by Wright, via two deflections, to calmly slot past the advancing goalkeeper with a neat reverse stick finish.
It was Riches’ first goal in 11 years for Harleston following his last goal against Oxford Hawks, but West Herts then found the target next as they grabbed their sixth goal of the day with five minutes of the half left to play.
There was still time for Magpies to waste a couple of one-on-one chances though and also for Wright to collect his fourth yellow card of the season.
The visitors were thankful for the half-time whistle as it have their 11 players time to catch their breath and refuel.
Harleston again came out fighting in the second-half, and in an open game, both teams created chances.
Despite giving away corners, Magpies defended bravely and managed to keep all 12 of them out.
Harleston still looked very dangerous on the counter attack, with debutant and man- of the match Will Hunt putting in a massive shift in midfield.
One of his delightful throughballs released Riches, but the veteran could not emulate his finish of the first-half as his effort went wide.
West Herts extended their lead when the back five of Leigh Sitch, Andrew Bedwell, Zum Akhtar, Leate and John Livings was finally broken, with Dan Webster finishing smartly on his reverse stick.
Although this has been a long and hard season, the Magpies squad have continued to fight all season and have learnt a lot from playing at a higher standard.
Harleston finish their 2015-16 campaign at the bottom of the Conference East table with six points from their 18 games, and thus have been relegated back down into the East League.