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Promoted Harleston Magpies round off East Men's League Premier A campaign with victory over St Albans

By Sport Diss

Harleston Magpies signed off a memorable season by recording a 4-3 win over St Albans at home on Saturday.

It was a close run thing between two sides that had already secured their promotion from the East Men’s League Premier A, but a late deflection from player-coach Tim Whiteman ensured the hosts clinched victory on the final day of the campaign by the odd goal in seven.

Magpies made a bright start and they were soon rewarded when captain Tom Ridley created enough space down the left for him to fire the ball across the face of the D, where Whiteman was waiting to hit home for the game’s opening goal.

Hockey action from Harleston Magpies Men's I v St Albans I..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. (8074985)
Hockey action from Harleston Magpies Men's I v St Albans I..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography. (8074985)

A period of St Albans pressure followed and while Harleston goalkeeper Chris Leek caught the eye with a smart triple save, he ended up being beaten twice in quick succession as the home team surrendered their early advantage.

Magpies suffered a further blow when an ankle injury meant Tom Sumner could play no further part in proceedings, but they nevertheless rallied before the break to get themselves level thanks to a Whiteman drag flick.

Just as they had done in the first half, Magpies were on the front foot following the resumption and they went back in front through James Gray, who after robbing a St Albans defender of possession, fired in an unstoppable shot.

But St Albans were proving a tough nut to crack and they responded once again, capitalising on Harleston defender Leigh Sitch leaving the pitch with an injury to level up the scoreline at three goals each.

Up the other end Dave Gilbert, Gray and debutant Jude Potruff all had chances to restore the lead, while Magpies lost both Richard Larkin and Will Tew temporarily to cards.

St Albans tried to make their numerical advantage count but Harleston held firm and once they returned to having a full quota on the pitch they claimed the winning goal as Whiteman turned in a shot from Gilbert, who was playing his final match for the team.

The last-day victory means Harleston have finished their Premier A campaign four points adrift of champions Wapping, but with a healthy nine-point buffer to Bedford in third. They won 18 of their 22 matches, scoring 69 goals while conceding 38.

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