Northumberland schools’ side secure semi-final place

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Northumberland earned a draw with North Yorkshire to secure a place in the Northern Counties East League semi-finals along with Cleveland.

Northumberland, without influential skipper Jack Cooper, started positively on a tight pitch and created the opening opportunity when Owen Gourley (Kings) produced a neat piece of skill in midfield and played in Jack Butler (KEVI), whose cross shot whistled past the post.

Butler, a constant threat to the North Yorkshire defence, was again in the thick of the action when he beat the full back for pace down the left wing and whipped in a delightful cross which Joe Conway (Whitley Bay) just failed to convert at the back post.

Northumberland were having the better of the first half and defending well, restricting North Yorkshire to the odd counter attack and long ball towards their powerful centre forward.

With half-time looming, both Jake Jensen (Ponteland) and Butler both had chances to grab the opening goal , but the teams went in level at the break, Northumberland having slightly the better chances, but North Yorkshire still well in the game.

Needing a win to qualify, North Yorkshire came out for the second half more positive and assertive and started to gain the upper hand in the midfield battle.

Despite their possession, they were restricted to long range efforts which Northumberland goalkeeper Will Hogarth (Ponteland) dealt with confidently.

North Yorkshire’s main threat remained their powerful centre forward who was having a very good battle throughout the game with Northumberland skipper Luke Taylor (Ponteland), who did well to nullify the threat.

As North Yorkshire pushed on looking for the win, gaps started to appear and Northumberland tried to punish them when they could.

The game entered the last 15 minutes still in a stalemate but this was when Northumberland created their two best chances; Jensen played in Butler with a clever flick, but he could only volley narrowly wide.

Next substitute Jack Ramsay (Whitley Bay) beat his man and smashed a 25-yard drive which pinged against the crossbar and away to safety.

North Yorkshire were still pushing on looking for the goal they needed, but the Northumberland defence stood firm.

Neither team could find the elusive goal to win the game, so with defences coming out on top, it was Northumberland who progressed to the Northern Counties Semi-finals as runners up in the East League. They will now face an away tie against Greater Manchester, Merseyside or Lancashire.

Marc Jacques (Kings) collected a well-deserved man of the match for a solid defensive display.