Norwich Exiles 1st 3 – IES 4th XI 2

This week in Division 4NE, IES experienced their first away trip of the season to Taverham – the first of three this season. Let’s hope it doesn’t become the standard trip. Page and Gallagher dropped out following last week’s near miss against UEA and Austin came back in from the 3s. So that probably marked little change in overall squad rotation with 10 from last week making the joyous journey up the A140.

Long Stratton is now an extra well-known little town as Norfolk County Council roadworks meant it took over 20 minutes to travel a mile at that point. Thankfully the start was delayed due to the previous game over running.

Elsom continued with his place on the bench and the other 11 graced the field of play. In the first three minutes Ramsey ran clear and his deflected shot drifted 14 cm wide of the right upright. Williams snr managed a mazey 40 yard run down the right (he still thinks in imperial measurements unlike your reporter) and won a short corned that eventually led to another and then a penalty stroke as Whiting had a shot saved on the line by a body. Whiting duly despatched the penalty – at the second attempt – into the left centre of the goal.

The rest of the half was pretty even affair with Exiles big squad rotating and Elsom bringing himself on. IES got a tad frustrated at the back but with O’Brien looking solid they held out to half time. One other first half highlight being the first drop ball in hockey memory following a substitute transgressing onto the field of play and stopping the ball with his foot.

At half time this was a game to win and IES started the second half confidently hoping that Scarff, Vince and Williams jnr would keep up their good work of the first half and that Murray and Thornton could continue their excellent partnership. But sadly the momentum shifted and IES struggled defensively to cope with the extensive advantages played following fouls and Exiles equalized with a stunning penalty corner strike. 

Then as Austin and Elsom came short to receive passes, one went astray much to Elsom’s chagrin and as IES stood waiting for the whistle to their benefit, Exiles marched upfield and were awarded a penalty stroke following a tussle between Thornton and his opposite number. It was duly converted. This was the moment when the massed crowd expected IES to capitulate but the pendulum swung again and with Meades and Scarff dictating play IES got back on the front foot. From another penalty corner, WIlliams snr fed Scarff who drifted around and bobbled the ball into the corner wrong footing the player on the line.

Less than ten minutes to go and all to play for. Thornton somehow found the benefit of the umpires doubt and avoided conceding a penalty corner for a ‘tackle’ his team mates believed to be a foul but then with 4 to go Exiles quickly switched the ball to their right-hand side , found space and had the poise to beat O’Brien to edge back in front,

There was still time to equalise but IES didn’t so it ended 3-2 again on the road. Man of the match – well Vince had his best game of the season, Thornton slotted in well in the middle, Scarff played well and Ramsey continued to develop. But the award goes to O’Brien, who, despite not being mentioned much in the above, played with confidence, made a number of solid saves, was much stronger in his defensive organisation, and had no real chance with any of the goals.

Next week could well be in the must win category. The league is starting to divide into top and bottom half’s with IES in the bottom half (for now). But, therefore, winning home games against other bottom half teams will be the bed-rock of the season. And next week is one of those – Norwich City 4th XI – before tricky away game against high-flying Norwich City 3rd XI (at Taverham of all places). 

West side of Norwich teams certainly have an advantage in travelling terms in Div 3NE with three teams based at Taverham, one at UEA and one at Dereham – and Norwich Dragons isnt that far away too …… it’s a long-distance league for some … especially Colchester 2nd XI – although their 17-0 home win against struggling Thetford may sustain them for some weeks. Historical stat of great interest … Williams (snr) and Scarff once got promoted out of Div 3SE when playing at Ipswich as a consequence of a 17-0 win against a Havering team that forgot their goalkeepers gloves – Scarff scored 27 goals that season …. (circa 2002).