Morpeth Ladies I 2 Leeds University I 1
AFTER a disappointing result in Wakefield last weekend, Morperth were keen to get back to winning ways and remain contenders for a place at the top of the table.
This week’s visitors would certainly be a handful having won their last three games and situated just two points above the mighty green and gold in the league.
Morpeth would need to be on top of their game to maintain their unbeaten home record and they couldn’t have hoped for a better start.
Within seconds of the whistle being blown, a short pass in the Leeds midfield was gratefully intercepted by Ciara Corbett who surged towards goal with skill, linking well with Bowler up the centre of the pitch towards the opponents’ D.
Having driven to the base-line through an army of defenders, Corbett played the slightest of passes back towards the penalty spot, allowing the captain to sweep a first-time shot past the keeper’s right side and put her team into the lead, surely the fastest goal scored so far this season. Leeds were stunned to silence and an elated Morpeth couldn’t believe their luck.
The visitors now had their work cut out and, to their credit, they kept possession well, switching the ball across the pitch at pace and driving into space.
Morpeth, however, held their shape and set the press high, forcing Leeds wide and allowing them little time on the ball.
A flurry of Leeds attacks created chances on goal and they looked to dominate the game for much of the first half but the visitors were denied an equaliser with some excellent tackling from Hindmarsh and Bryson at the back.
The home side struggled to maintain possession on occasions but some good two-touch hockey up the left-flank involving Cully, Bell and Bowler lead to some strong counter-attacks with the hosts picking up several short-corners.
Despite executing many of their penalty-corner routines without success, it was an accurate straight strike into the bottom left corner from Bell that got Morpeth their second with five minutes still to play before half-time (2-0).
A much-needed break and a positive team talk at the interval ensured Morpeth were hungry for a fight and if a victory was to be secured then the next 35 minutes would require concentration and a strong work ethic from all 11 players.
Hagan and Corbett were back to their best, showing skill and determination which led to some great steals from the Leeds defence and resulted in a number of goal-scoring opportunities. Telford-Cooke and O’Mahoney made some good runs up the right wing, allowing Morpeth to gain momentum and put pressure on the visitors.
It was, however, an evenly-matched second half with both teams creating chances that kept the keepers at both ends busy.
A string of penalty-corners for the young Leeds side ultimately led to a breakthrough which once again brought the familiar nervous tension that has a habit of appearing in the final third of Morpeth’s matches.
Team: Rose, Hindmarsh, Wardle, Wilson, Bryson, Bowler, Bell, Hagan, Cully, O’Mahoney, Telford-Cooke, Corbett. Scorers: Bowler, Bell.