Second win over students

Morpeth I 1 Durham University IV 0 North East Hockey League, Premier Division

AFTER a promising performance against the Durham University third team last week, and on unfamiliar terrain, the Morpeth side were looking to use the intelligence gained to try to get maximum points against another strong, young and fast Durham IV side.

The University travelled with a maximum number in their squad, as was expected, meaning that the Morpeth men would have to be at their wiliest and keep their concentration to a max in order to keep on top of their more-than-capable opponents.

The game started at the frenetic pace that was expected, putting the defence to the test. The defence held strong and firm, dealing with all surges well.

It is testament to their hard work on and off the pitch that not only was a clean-sheet kept, but not one of the numerous short-corners that Durham had were too close for comfort.

Such is the standard of hockey in these games that teams really have to get maximum return for the time spent in the opponent’s D.

With only two short-corners in the entire game, Morpeth would have to be on top form.

Midway through the first half, the time had come to test the home side’s nerves.

Morpeth had one practice run which resulted in a save being spilled high to restart the process. The second routine was identical, but each aspect was perfect. The injection, stop and resulting drag-flick rippling the corner of the net. Arguably against the run of possession and territory, it was 1-0 to Morpeth.

There were a couple more opportunities in the first half for both sides to score, but again Morpeth’s newly-shaped midfield did well to thwart the surges and the defence was impeccable. There could well have been more goals to add to Morpeth’s tally before the break.

Half-time allowed Morpeth to prepare for Durham to come at them hard, and it was important not to get frustrated if the green and gold only saw minimal possession.

Numbers were depleted with an injury early on in the second half, so the rotations in fresh legs became ever more critical.

As Durham pressed higher and higher, searching for the equaliser, Morpeth kept firm and were superbly well-organised at the back. There were the inevitable scares but the relief was enormous when the final whistle was blown, giving the three points to the new-look Morpeth side.

In reflection, it was a fantastic performance in all areas of the pitch whether defending or attacking. The work put in for forward movement and ball retention is paying off and passing was remarkably better from everyone.

So confidence is great in the camp for what will prove to be a really testing game next week at the revitalised Richmond.

Scorer and man-of-the-match: J Ogden.

Durham City IV 1 Morpeth II 6

MORPETH travelled to Durham brimming with confidence after last week’s easy win over Richmond and with keeper Mark back, the stage was set for another victory.

Morpeth started well with Calder playing up front, and after some well-crafted play Mooney turned in a deflection to open the scoring in under 10 minutes.

Not content with a single goal, Morpeth kept pressing and with runs down the left wing and Tordoff on the right, play soon opened up with Calder scoring a deflection off a defender’s face.

Mooney scrambled in his second and Murgatroyd fired into the bottom corner to bring the score to 4-0.

Diligent work from Minty and Hudson in the middle enabled Calder to grab his second of the match and leave Morpeth feeling satisfied at half-time despite not playing their most fluent hockey (5-0).

Things looked set to continue after the break when Mellor whacked in a short-corner. With a 6-0 lead, Morpeth began to get tired and mistakes crept in, Durham capitalised on this with a ball through the heart of the defence that was deflected in (6-1).

The major calamity of the day then occurred as a defender barged into Minty, breaking his collarbone. Man-of-the-match: Gavin Minty.

Morpeth III made it a hat-trick of wins, beating Richmond III 3-0 with goals from Craggs (two) and Booth.