Bourne Deeping Dragons came away with their heads held high despite a 4-3 home defeat in a topsy-turvy Premier B tussle with Norwich City on Saturday.
This was the Dragons’ first fixture since the beginning of December due to back-to-back postponements ahead of the Christmas break.
Although chomping at the bit for competitive sport once again, most would need a few touches to familiarise themselves with their finely tuned hockey skills.
Both teams started well, showing enthusiasm to attack and encroach upon their opposition’s half.
After a closely-fought first 10 minutes Norwich started to gain more momentum, winning consecutive short corners that narrowly missed the backboard.
Bourne Deeping seemed flustered and Norwich continued to attack relentless, chipping away at their hosts’ already fragile armoury.
The deadlock was broken from a well-worked short corner, giving the visitors a one goal lead going into half-time.
Bourne Deeping rallied at the break and the first 10 minutes of the second half was all Dragons.
The ball was moved around the pitch utilising the space at pace and with accuracy. Chris White linked up well with Andy Williams and other forward players which caught the slightly off guard Norwich firmly on their heels.
Dragons won several shorts and converted one through a well-worked Simon Miles one-two to level the scores.
Similar to previous games Bourne Deeping love to attack and many of their players enjoy moving forward.
Unfortunately this preference to go forward left Bourne Deeping stretched in defence and through some accurate distribution from the Norwich defenders the visitors were able to score their second which was shortly followed by their third.
This left Bourne Deeping with two options to see the game out and limit any further damage to their goal difference or go for broke.
The Dragons sprung into action once again as Tom Richardson showed a good physical presence in the D to hammer home from short range.
Naturally Norwich extended their lead once again by scoring their fourth, but the Dragons stayed motivated and came back at them with wave after wave of potent attacks.
White once again showed his class by collecting numerous aerials from above his shoulders and Bourne Deeping slotted home their third through Andy Williams who had orchestrated most of the second half attacks.
Bourne Deeping had a late short corner to clinch the draw however it wasn’t to be and the Dragons had to settle for a 4-3 defeat.
The Dragons, although defeated, felt proud of their efforts and carry the self-belief and willing to cause some damage into this weekend where they travel to Ipswich and Dereham for a crucial double-header.
Bourne Deeping 3rds were outplayed by second-placed St Ives 2nds who ran out 3-0 winners in their Division 4NW match on Saturday.
The Dragons were second best to a side that were better prepared and had not had such an indulgent festive season.
It was competitive and Bourne Deeping had their chances to score, especially in the first half when several great opportunities went begging.
St Ives bossed the middle of the field early on and deserved their lead at half-time.
Jack Langley in goal made several good saves to keep the away team in the tie and the opposition keeper was called into action on numerous occasions, but St Ives ran out deserved winners.
This defeat was food for thought for Bourne Deeping heading into a tough run of fixtures against the top sides in the coming weeks.
Bourne Deeping 4ths eased their relegation fears with a 7-2 home success over St Neots 2nds in a crucial Division 4NW clash.
The Dragons competed for the entire game and the chances kept coming with Tim Kiesel and James Watkins creating chaos in the St Neots backline but they couldn’t put any opportunities away until Kev Baker scored a great .
The advantage was doubled later on in the first half when Robert Stevens finished with a neat shot past the goalie.
The second half was a mixture of brilliance and players who were showing a bit of post-Christmas fatigue.
Nevertheless the 4ths went on a goal spree with Baker and Stevens both getting their second goals of the game.
Ben Waldron pitched in to end his recent goal drought with two expertly taken goals, the first deflecting high past the keeper from the edge of the D and the second a slow ball that travelled 10 yards through numerous players and over the line,
St Neots replied with a couple of goals, but Waldron then won a penalty stroke which unfortunately was missed by Chris Mann.
A second penalty stroke was then awarded and Mann made no mistake a second time with a flick that had both power and precision.
Bourne Deeping Ladies 2nds moved to the top of the Division 4NW table with a 2-1 away success at previous leaders Spilsby on Saturday.
The Dragons produced a determined display with accurate passing ensuring they had most of the possession in the first half.
They broke the deadlock when a slick move turned defence into attack with Sarah Morgan-Waters effortlessly carrying the ball into the D where Helena Darragh fired home.
Spilsby responded and came close to equalising from a short corner. but a superb defensive block from Dawn McShane ensured the Dragons went into the half-time break with a one goal lead.
Spilsby came out strongly in the second half, attacking the Bourne Deeping goal on several occasions with a few near misses.
However, strong defensive work and excellent goalkeeping from Tori Wand kept them at bay.
The Dragons then doubled their advantage when Ella Henson drove forward down the right wing and crossed for Morgan-Waters to tap home through the Spilsby goalkeeper’s legs.
Spilsby then piled on the pressure and halved the deficit to set up a very tense last 10 minutes, but Bourne Deeping kept their composure to hold out for a superb victory.
Bourne Deeping Ladies 3rds suffered a heavy 10-0 defeat against Leadenham in Division 4NW.
Goalkeeper Rose Taylor-Jackson was hit by a barrage of shots in the opening period and Leadenham raced into a six-goal lead from four short corners and one penalty flick.
The Dragons refused to roll over after the break though and showed promise Lucy Scrafton, Aisling O’Keefe and Mia Barford.
Leadenham though were able to add four second-half goals despite the valiant efforts of Cara Gatewood-Clarke and Nic Stazicker.
Bourne Deeping came close to snatching a consolation late on when Nancy Simmons teed up Barford but her shot was saved by the Leadenham goalkeeper.