Morpeth Ladies I 3 Newcastle University I 1
WITH the sun shining brightly albeit on a cold Saturday afternoon, both sides took to the field knowing that the victors would push themselves right into the mix at the top of the league.
So, not surprisingly, from the pass-back, the students tried to exert some dominance. But while they had more possession, they struggled to create any clear-cut chances with both Watkins and Hindmarch marshalling their opposing forwards comfortably.
After this initial flurry, Cockburn and Bowler started to exert their influence and boss the game more in midfield.
Eventually, the pressure told. Having worked out the defensive strategy at short-corners, Bell didn’t go for the straight strike. Instead, she knocked it right to Bowler.
She knocked it across the face of goal and it bobbled among the defence before falling to Bryson. She showed no hesitation and knocked it neatly over the line (1-0).
The rest of the half passed without incident although both teams welcomed the break given the frenetic pace. To their credit the University side came out in the second half with all guns blazing.
They won a stream of short corners but couldn’t find a way through the resolute home defence with both Bryson and Hindmarch making goal line clearances.
Just when it looked like Morpeth had weathered the storm, the students broke clear with three attackers facing two defenders.
Fortunately, Rose in goal was quick to spot the danger and did enough to block the path to goal with Hamilton safely clearing the ball away.
And is often the case, Morpeth used this lucky escape to mount a scintillating fast break.
Telford-Cooke stole the ball in midfield and squeezed it square to Bissett. She didn’t hesitate in stroking it forward to Hagan.
The home centre-forward pounced quickly and smacked the ball into the back corner of the net before the keeper knew what was happening. A great strike!
With the pressure eased, Morpeth tried to keep the ball with Smith on the right half, particularly determined to drive the ball forward.
As a result the home side created a number of gilt edged chances. And eventually Bissett’s persistence was rewarded. After several goal-line clearances, her lifted scoop over the flailing keeper proved unstoppable and victory was secured for her side.
Nonetheless the last hurrah went to the visitors. Following a spell of short corners, a neat cross-circle move ended in the ball finding the bottom corner.
This obviously spurred the Uni side on and although they threatened, the home defence made sure no more goals were conceded.
Morpeth: Janice Rose, Karen Hindmarch, Lyn Watkins, Teleri Hamilton, Cara Smith, Sally Bryson, Emma Bell, Nikki Bowler, Anne Bissett, Dani Hagan, Leoli Telford-Cooke. Player-of-the-match: Dani Hagan.