Newcastle Uni III 2 Morpeth I 3 North East Hockey League, Premier Division
Morpeth made very hard work of this win, after having the vast majority of possession and territory throughout the game.
The away side dominated the game throughout the first half, but they squandered several chances to get an early goal, which would have helped them to settle down after an edgy start.
Kendall, Foster and Skipper Brown all created chances, but they either went the wrong side of the post or were well saved by the in-form Uni keeper. The two teams went into the half-time break with the game goalless.
After setting a high press throughout the first half, Morpeth decided upon a change of approach and sat back on the half-court in an attempt to draw Newcastle in and hit them on the break.
However, this tactic backfired as a period of pressure resulted in a disputed penalty corner being awarded to the home team, after what looked like a clean tackle by central defender Dye, adjudged to have been a stick tackle. The corner was subsequently converted for 1-0 to the Uni.
Morpeth tried to respond to this setback but found themselves in deep trouble with less than 10 minutes to go after Newcastle Uni hit them on the break to score a second goal.
So, with less than 10 minutes to go the score was 2-0 to the home side and at that stage it seemed unlikely that Morpeth would get anything from the game.
But, immediately from the restart, right-back Cooper made a great run. Starting in his own half, he carried the ball past several defenders into the D before slipping the ball through to Valentine, who was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a clever chip over the keeper.
This moment of inspiration, however, seemed to provide the catalyst for the Morpeth team to really turn on the style in the closing minutes of the game.
Seconds later, the score was 2-1, after a strike into the D from Ingram was expertly deflected into the bottom corner by Valentine.
At 2-1, Morpeth continued to pile on the pressure and a good bit of individual skill from striker Kendall resulted in him beating the last Uni defender in the D, before coolly placing the ball past the keeper’s left hand and into the bottom corner for 2-2 with only two minutes left.
The home side were now well and truly rattled, and seemed helpless to prevent a very late comeback from the Longhirst-based outfit.
The winner came as a result of a short corner in the last 30 seconds of the game, which was won by Cook, who managed to draw a foul after some patient and persistent play at the edge of the D.
Captain Brown showed good technique and calm nerves in converting with a powerful drag-flick to the keeper’s left.
The final whistle blew immediately after the restart and Morpeth just managed to find the winner in the nick of time.
So there you have it, a largely under-par performance from Morpeth, but a very exciting finish as they showed excellent team spirit and determination in the end to clinch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Starting line-up: Sam Read (GK), Adrian Dye, Phil Holmes, Frank Cooper, Tony Cook, Tom Carmichael, David Breakey, Alex Ingram, Ian Foster, Ritchie Brown (C), Ian Foster. Subs: Bruce McPate, Ross Valentine. Man-of-the-match: Ross Valentine. Scorers: Ross Valentine, Ian Kendall, Ritchie Brown.