Dereham Ladies warm to their tasks after big freeze
Dereham Ladies II 1, Norwich City 0
HOCKEY: Dereham got off to a great new-year start with this victory over top-of-the-league side Norwich City on home turf.
After missing key players in recent fixtures the team have struggled, and as a result missed out on vital points. But with a full squad Dereham were fired up for this tough encounter.
After a shaky start Dereham began to put together some good moves and settled into their game. Despite the efforts there were few chances to threaten the City goal with Norwich players working hard to close-mark players out of the game.
Norwich pressured the Dereham defence, linking up some quick passes towards the end of the half, but strong tackles from Lu Humberston kept Norwich at bay until half-time.
Dereham turned on the pressure in the second half with Hannah Tarry, Gina Steggall and Alice Tarry making some well-timed tackles to maintain possession. Dereham stepped up a gear and were awarded a series of short corners, with one daring lob from Kath Malvern forcing the Norwich keeper to react quickly and make a good save.
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On the counter-attack Dereham were supported by constant tracking back and battling by the midfield duo Verity Thorpe and Rebecca Loveday. Norwich had several chances but were unable to convert, with keeper Louise Kay making some great saves.
Midway through the half Dereham finally broke the deadlock with Rachael Cramp's pace up front leading to a short corner. Kath Malvern put Dereham in front with a cracking shot.
Norwich piled forward towards the goal. There were some late nail-biting moments with a couple of short corners awarded, but Norwich were denied by the Dereham defence.
This was a very promising performance and a great team effort to gain the three points, which pushes Dereham up into third place.
Players-of-the-match: Kath Malvern and Rebecca Loveday.
Beccles 1, Dereham Ladies III 2
The long winter break proved to have been exactly what Dereham Ladies III needed as they started confidently with pace and aggression.
Maintaining possession from the push back Dereham passed the ball quickly and accurately around the midfield and forward into the Beccles D.
Dereham won an attacking short corner within the first five minutes and Hannah Barnard neatly injected and then perfectly deflected in Rebecca Taylor's initial strike on goal.
Dereham continued to dominate and create chances with centre forward Taylor hitting a post and wingers Charlotte Reeve and Hannah Bebbington also going close.
The speedy Beccles attackers gave the Dereham defence a hard time on the break.
Captain Heather Morgan at sweeper and goalkeeper Zoe Taylor defended particularly well, but about 10 minutes from half-time Beccles broke, attacked in numbers and scored from a loose ball.
Determined not to let last year's trait of being a one-half team persist, Dereham continued to play good attacking hockey in the second half. The team as a whole kept possession much better and showed real fight and concentration for the rest of the game.
Dereham finally sealed their first win of the season with the best move of the game.
The ball was played out to the right from defence. Bebbington took on and beat one Beccles player and released the ball down to wing for Fran Grapes to run onto.
Grapes took out the next Beccles defender with a perfectly weighted one-two pass back to Bebbington, who was running inside the wing in support. Bebbington crossed for super sub Jackie Taylor to hit past the Beccles keeper with a perfect first-time shot.
The young Dereham team can look forward to building on their points tally and hopefully climbing the Norfolk Premier table to safety.
Joint players-of-the-match: Hannah Bebbington and Heather Morgan.
Squad: Hannah Barnard, Krissy Barnard, Hannah Bebbington, Sam Coleman, Fran Grapes, Kim Hazel, Rachel Lavers, Fran Leverett, Emma Milton, Heather Morgan (capt), Charlotte Reeve, Jackie Taylor, Rebecca Taylor, Zoe Taylor (GK).