JUNIOR FOOTBALL: Heaton Hawks Falcons U13 1 Morpeth Panthers U13 2
The Met Office warned us that the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo would hit these shores on the night of Monday, October 20, writes John Charlton.
However, standing on the touchline at Coach Lane on the Sunday morning, it felt like it had arrived early. The high winds made for very difficult playing conditions.
The powerful Falcons side had cruised to a big victory over the Morpeth lads the previous month and started this game just as they had left off. From their first attack, the ball broke near our penalty spot and their centre forward smashed it into the net.
The Panthers were 1-0 down.
But it was clear straight from the restart that there would be no repeat of the September game. There was purpose, energy and commitment in everything the Panthers did. They simply out fought and out thought their hosts.
From central midfield, James Brady picked out a lovely throughball, Robert Eadington latched on to it and he placed a beautiful shot past the Falcons’ keeper to make it 1-1.
Minutes later, Robert tore away again to have another one-on-one with the keeper. Only a superb save denied young Bob.
A few minutes later, the same effervescent Panther burst into the penalty area again but this time he made no mistake. At half-time, the Panthers had a thoroughly deserved 2-1 lead.
Playing with the wind behind them after the break, the Falcons gave everything they had and did dominate the middle of the park for long periods. But the Panthers’ back four of Ciaran Evans, Jake Lloyd, Harry Gray and Jamie Johnson were all outstanding.
They absorbed the Falcons’ physical onslaught and brought the ball out well, turning defence into attack. In fact in the whole of the second half, this correspondent can only remember one clear goal scoring opportunity the Heaton lads had.
It came from a good passing move into our penalty box, but the well struck shot was turned away by a stunning reflex save from our keeper Luke Guy.
Drew Coates made repeated driving runs at goal, showing strength and drive. Oscar Jones worked tirelessly and was a constant threat. And only yet another brilliant save prevented Ben Forster’s pile-driver from bursting the net.
Flying winger Ross Charlton broke through and delivered a perfect cross, it was met by, guess who? Yes, Robert.
Now young Bob was on a hat trick and he again did everything right but this time his shot just flashed agonisingly past the post.
Then the whistle went, the Morpeth lads were understandably delighted. As were the coaches Jamie and Michael, who work so hard to deliver performances like this.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, your pitchside reporter won the bottle of wine in the Falcons’ touchline fund-raiser.