Resilient, Defiant, Victorious!
By Mark Farmer-Wright
Resilient, Defiant, Victorious!
After a disappointing draw away to IES, the men’s firsts left themselves with it all to do with a visiting Magpies team that were hot on their heels in Division 3NE. A loss would see Magpies leap frog North Norfolk in the table and a draw would all but surrender the 2nd place spot to Ipswich.
A slow and sloppy start from North Norfolk saw passes going astray to a youthful and lively Magpies side who gladly mounted pressure upon North Norfolk in the early stages of the game. With frustration mounting, misplaced criticism from the top of the field was batted back in graceful fashion from Farrow who rightly pointed out there is never a time for negativity, to which the visiting side agreed in a rinsing fashion. With the short corner count rising it was only a matter of time before Magpies took the lead.
The goal however, was the devil in disguise as it woke up the North Norfolk troops who stepped their game up immediately. Farrow and Gibson linked up well down the left flank, as did Hart and a fiesty Hammond down the right. With the tempo raised, North Norfolk found themselves in a number of attacking advances. Whitby playing in an advanced role, looked like a seasoned forward and caused Magpies trouble with is trademark close-to-body stickwork and won a short corner. Unfortunately this time Barker was only able to thrash “Jimmy’s Balls” into the fencing. Pressure from Magpies remained consistent, and a well crafted opportunity from their very own Tiny Tim forced Bartram into one of his unbelievable TV diving shot stoppers to prevent Magpies going to a 2-0 lead which seemed a given as the shot was from close range and rocketed.
North Norfolk’s second short corner saw the score leveled. With Sayer missing from the squad, it was left to Farmer-Wright to attempt a recreation of “Hendo’s Nose”, and with a fine glance was able to angle Miles’s strong pass into the corner. With North Norfolk confidence restored, defensive duties were enforced with the solidity of the unrelated partnership of Barker and Sadler-Barker holding firm and generating counters a plenty. Miles linked up with Gibson at the top of the D in a dangerous attack, Gibson resisted the temptation for a shot on goal instead passing through to Farmer-Wright who swept first time threading the ball between the keeper’s legs to make it 2-1.
Up at half time, but a man down after Hammond took a close range missile to the calf. Miles urged his players on, but it was Magpies who looked to be the resurgent force. Commanding approximately 80% possession, it left the North Norfolk defence of Hart, Whitwood and Farrow with plenty to do to earn their match teas. Farrow’s growing confidence was illustrated through putting a tricky little winger in his pocket, whilst Whitwood and Hart were strong and aggressive in the tackle. Pressure and emotions mounting, saw Whitwood rile up his opposite number enough to be on the receiving end off a shove, resulting in both players receiving a yellow card.
Sadler-Barker and Barker worked tirelessly covering all areas of the pitch in support of their defensive counterparts, whilst Hall and Gibson were left with multiple yards to cover that even a FitBit couldn’t keep up with. With little possession North Norfolk were left with one option, to counter quick and clinicly. With possession won, they were able to cover ground quickly through some fantastic link work, ending up with an in form Green charging in on the top right hand side of the D and impressively slotted home with power and precision.
Magpies were unrelenting, mounting attack after attack, with North Norfolk simply unable to get the ball out. Perhaps best illustrated by Barker’s undercut clearance which was only able to find the outstretched chin of Farrow who took the hit and the short corner to boot, whilst Miles attempted ariels on the run but was only able to find the grassy expanses on the other side of the fencing. Magpies threw everything into their short corner routines, but Bartram stood tall, palming, kicking and swatting every attempt as though it was a training session.
A final counter saw Whitby with a marginal opportunity in the D, but a hard working Magpies defense prevented Whitby from getting a full shot off. However, the deflection looped into the air and with neither the keeper or defender claiming the ball it was able to spin through to an opportunistic Farmer-Wright who only had to tap home to complete a poacher’s hattrick.
With the final whistle blown Magpies were left scratching their heads as to how they just lost 4-1 even with 80% possession.
The performance was a great example of how resiliance and persistance can lead to victory even when the tide is against you, the midfield and defence worked at a phenomenal rate and earned a golden 3 points to keep North Norfolk in 2nd place and put some valuable distance from the chasing pack. The men’s firsts travel to an unbeaten UEA side for a 1st vs 2nd clash, the men will need to be on top of their game to come away with a result. They will be eager to reduce the short corner count knowing this is UEA’s strength and be keen to come straight out of the blocks. They will be strengthened through the return of Sayer and long lost son Mad-Eye who have already beaten UEA in alternative fixtures.