EAST MEN’S LEAGUE
Saffron Walden I 4
Harleston Magpies I 7
After their trip to Saffron Walden beat the cold conditions, Harleston Magpies ended the year in winning fashion thanks to a high-scoring triumph.
Harleston began the game brightly, with the midfield and forward line finding themselves in threatening positions and, within five minutes, the visitors had won themselves two corners but failed to capitalise.
Then, with Harleston looking to mount another attack, a misplaced pass let Saffron Walden start a counter-attack which they finished emphatically to take the lead.
Magpies responded well, though, and man of the match Archie Winter scored two high-quality goals to put his side in front.
The first was a rocket on the back-hand from the top left corner of the circle into the bottom right corner of the goal and the second — another classy finish — with a two-touch finish in the circle struck hard.
However, Harleston soon faced a mini-collapse with individual defensive errors allowing Saffron Walden to score two quick goals to take the lead 3-2.
Yet, the game continued to ebb and flow, so much so that Magpies were 5-3 in front come the half-time whistle.
The equaliser came from Stuart Leate, who converted a deflection after a smart delivery was crashed in by captain Leigh Sitch.
Pete Bale was next to score from an Andrew Bedwell pass, before their fifth goal came courtesy of Jack Hobbs from close range after good work on the right flank by Sam Patterson.
Disappointed with their collective defensive performance in the first half, Harleston came out much after the restart and their controlled display saw them score two more goals.
The first of those was arguably their best of the season so far.
It started deep in their own half with Bedwell playing the ball to Hipwell, who then became the pivotal figure in a six-person move of minimal touches that resulted in the returning Will Martin finishing from six yards out.
A runaway goal from Saffron Walden once again reduced the arrears but it was to be Harleston’s day when they scored from a short corner with Tim Whiteman latching onto a bullet delivery from Archie Winter with a single-handed deflection from an impossible angle that rifled in.
The result means Magpies end 2017 in third position, five points adrift of table-topping St Albans ahead of their return to action on January 20, at home to Chelmsford I.
They have won seven of their 12 encounters, losing just once.