Morpeth Ladies I 1 Leeds University I 2 North Hockey Women’s League, Division One
ON a fine spring day, Morpeth took to the park knowing that a draw would secure their future in the division.
Even with one or two regular players missing, they were confident that their recent good run of form would continue.
The match started at a brisk pace, with Morpeth keen to gain the upper hand and dominate the younger opposition from the outset.
However, despite having a lot of possession, they were unable to create any clear-cut chances, with the University defence looking strong.
On a rare break forward, the visitors won a short-corner. The shot aimed at the left-hand post took a wicked deflection and rose cruelly over the two defenders on the line to find the roof of the net.
As has been the case in a number of games this season, Morpeth had gone behind totally against the run of play.
Undaunted, Morpeth streamed forward.
Pollock and Bowler were combining well on the right, but the Leeds defence was sitting deep and seemed happy to soak up the pressure.
Morpeth also failed to make the most of a number of short-corners with any shots on goal comfortably parried away.
Half-time arrived and Morpeth made one or two tactical switches, keen to get their most creative players more into the game.
Moving Dickinson forward almost had an immediate effect, but unfortunately no one could get on the end of the cross she flashed across the goal.
O’Mahoney went close shortly after, but the keeper got down to her feet quickly and somehow scrambled the ball past the post.
Deakin and Bowler were getting more and more of the ball, but the students kept their discipline and were proving very difficult to break down.
Despite keeping possession well and moving the ball around the pitch, Morpeth just couldn’t convert this into a goal.
Penalty-corners came and went without the killer touch being provided. The students cleared the ball off the line more than once and it looked like the teams would be playing until Thursday before another goal was scored, at which point, in a rare foray into Morpeth’s circle, the visitors scored again.
A number of fouls at the top of the circle escaped the umpire’s attention and allowed the student’s forward to place her shot just inside the near-post.
A despairing dive on the line by a defender proved just that and, despite having 75 per cent of the possession and creating numerous opportunities, Morpeth found themselves 2-0 down with five minutes left.
But as this testing season has proved time and again, Morpeth are never beaten and came roaring back.
They monopolised possession once more and Blades picked the ball up in her right-half channel.
She glided passed half the student team into the left side of the circle and slotted a reverse stick shot passed the keeper and into the net.
Two minutes left, was the comeback on? Sadly no, Morpeth finished the game as they started it, on top in possession of the ball, but an equaliser they could not find.
Three games to go and still that elusive point required.
Team: Janice Rose, Karen Hindmarch, Lyn Watkins, Becky Blades, Sally Bryson, Anne Blissett, Lindsey Pollock, Nikki McLean (captain), Lucy Deakin, Emily Dickinson, Arran O’Mahoney, Lucy Murgatroid. Player-of- the-match: Nikki McLean.