Morpeth I 1 Newcastle Medics 1 North East Hockey League, Premier Division
FOLLOWING their hard-fought win the week before, Morpeth looked to carry on their consistent performance in the North East’s top division on Saturday.
They came up against a Newcastle Medics side whose form had been indifferent for most of the season, but the home side knew they could not take them lightly as they were more than capable of causing problems.
A surprisingly open start to the game allowed Morpeth to get behind the Medics defence and exploit the space on several occasions. Some decent chances came early on – captain Brown went close with some neat deflections, while Breakey and Dixon were unlucky not to break the deadlock.
Morpeth persisted with their competent build-up play and knew that sooner or later the opening goal would come. And so it was on the half-hour mark, thanks to some organised pressing of the opposition, forward John Dixon intercepted a wayward pass and drove into the D before very calmly sending the ball past a helpless keeper into the net.
The hosts now felt they had the upper hand and it looked to be only a matter of time before more goals followed. However, this was not to be, as just before half-time, the Medics broke forward and, due to an unfortunate slip from defender Holmes, their forward was able to gather the ball and round goalkeeper Jackson to equalise.
In the second half, Morpeth came out looking to get their noses in front again, carrying on their high level of attacking play, but were just unable to apply the finishing touch.
It became very apparent that the away side were content with a draw and they looked to get everyone behind the ball.
This made it increasingly more difficult for the Morpeth attack to construct clear chances. They did not give up, however, and the resilient attitude shown came very close to reaping the rewards.
Both McPate and Carser had shots saved from a defiant Medics keeper, while Valentine and Danecki were also unlucky not to find the net. Try as they might, Morpeth eventually ran out of time and had to settle for a draw.
Even though it may have felt like two points dropped, Morpeth were not at all disheartened by the levels of effort and performance.
Man-of-the-match: Steve Jackson.
Morpeth I 0 Durham University IV 2
North East Hockey League, Premier Division
FOR the second time in a weekend, Morpeth men’s firsts were back at Longhirst – this time against a young and skilful Durham University team.
As expected, the away side started at a very high tempo, looking to use the width of the pitch to create chances. However, Morpeth initially dealt with the pressure very well, cutting out any opportunities that Durham created.
Once they established themselves in the game, which took place on Sunday, the hosts looked threatening, retaining the ball effectively and building the play into dangerous areas. A very well organised Durham defence were able to contain these attacks and counter-attacked quickly.
As a result, Morpeth found themselves caught on the break high up the pitch and a succession of passes allowed Durham into the D and they put a miscued shot into the goal.
The home side felt hard done by and were by no means out of the game. They continued to pressure the visiting defence and with their only short-corner of the game. Danecki was unlucky to have his shot well saved.
But as they pressed, Durham were able to hit them on the break once again. This time, they won a short corner and a deflected shot flew past the helpless keeper Jackson to make it 0-2.
In the second half, the task became increasingly difficult as the away side looked to keep hold of the ball and defend their lead.
Morpeth did not stop working and kept pressuring the opposition – fighting for every ball and causing unrest among the students.
The home defence held firm while the midfield continued to create numerous opportunities in attacking areas. Much like the previous game, however, they just could not find that clinical touch to turn chances into goals.
A goal-less second half saw Morpeth lose their first game of the new year, but they will look to pick themselves back up and train hard for another double header this coming weekend.
Man-of-the-match: James Breakey.
Tynedale I 2 Morpeth III 1
North East Hockey League, Club Development North
MORPETH men’s third team were always going to have to fight hard to beat a well-drilled and very fit Tynedale team that had won all their league games so far this season.
The visitors started the match with a defensive mind-set and for the majority this worked well.
Tynedale had several chances but these were dealt with quickly and effectively through a combination of grit, hard work, determination and, most importantly, communication.
Morpeth were looking good on the counter-attack, however an error resulted in a quick turnover and the home side slotted away a goal just before half-time.
In the first few minutes of the second half, Morpeth set out on the quick offensive and they won a short-corner. Simon Gilmore took the ball and, with an inch-perfect hit, put it in the back of the net to equalise.
Neither side let up after this as they looked to take the lead. The hosts had more chances, but these were dealt with due to some excellent saves and quick reactions from Luke Dixon.
Unfortunately, a quick aerial caught out Morpeth, with the Tynedale forward getting in a bullet-like shot from the edge of the D which found the gap between the keeper and the post.
Morpeth did not give up and kept on attacking, but could not find that elusive goal.
However, they can hold their heads high as they were involved in a close game with the league leaders, with some excellent play in it from both teams.
Compared to the last time the two teams met, the thirds have come on leaps and bounds as a team and this was evident throughout the match.