Strong second half helps first team surge to another victory

Morpeth I 4 Wilton I 1 North East Hockey League, Premier Division

A DECENT performance meant Morpeth men’s first team extended their winning streak to three matches on Saturday.

The opening passage of the game saw the hosts enjoy the lion’s share of possession. Wilton looked to unsettle their opponents, however, the Longhirst-based outfit were able to keep their composure and pass the ball into dangerous areas of the pitch.

Morpeth created some good early chances, with Craig Consitt, Ian Foster and Ian Kendall all attacking the space and working off one another. They also earned their side a string of short corners, and, but for a number of fine saves from the Wilton keeper, Morpeth felt they should have been ahead.

Shortly after this spell of pressure, it was the away side that scored the opening goal of the game. A breakaway attack down the left-hand side saw one of the Wilton forwards put through on goal and he found the bottom corner of keeper Sam Read’s goal.

Despite the setback, Morpeth knew not to panic and that if they carried on playing as they were, they would create enough chances to get an equaliser. And it wasn’t long before they found one – Consitt was played through on the left-hand side of the D, and his first-time slap-shot found the bottom right-hand corner.

Just before half-time, the home side could have taken the lead when Gareth Mellor played a through-ball to Ritchie Brown, but his flick was gloved away to safety by the keeper. Therefore, the scores were level at the interval.

Morpeth looked to seize the initiative right from the start of the second half. They pressed the ball high up the pitch and managed to take it into the final third on a number of occasions.

It seemed like Wilton were riding their luck as the side in green and gold went very close, but 15 minutes into the half, they finally broke through and got their second.

The ball was played by Bruce McPate to Kendall on the right-hand side. The experienced forward then drove along the byline before playing the ball across goal, where Foster was on hand to deflect it into the goal.

The visitors were now clearly rattled and struggled to get the ball out of their own half. With Morpeth still on the offensive, they added a third goal.

Kendall received the ball up at the top of the D and he weaved his way past two defenders before slotting the ball underneath the keeper to make it 3-1.

The home side felt they had done enough to take the three points, so skipper Brown called a half-court press to see the game out.

Wilton struggled to find a way through the organised midfield and defensive ranks and the game was then put beyond doubt as Phil Holmes won the ball in the Morpeth half before playing it upfield to the advancing Evan Mulligan.

With the opposition stretched, Mulligan found Kendall in space. He then played another killer ball into the D, where Foster was once again on hand to apply the finishing touch.

Moments later the full-time whistle was blown and the hosts came out 4-1 winners.

Morpeth: Sam Read (gk), Adrian Dye, Phil Holmes, Evan Mulligan, Tony Cook, Tom Carmichael, Bruce McPate, Ritchie Brown (c), Craig Consitt, Ian Kendall, Ian Foster. Sub: Gareth Mellor.

Man-of-the-match: Ian Kendall.

Morpeth Seconds played well, but were defeated 3-1 away to league leaders Tynemouth II.

Shafiq got the visitors’ goal when he followed up a push-out from the home keeper.

The third team enjoyed their away-day as they beat Sunderland Broom II 6-0.

The goals came from an Andy Gallivan hat-trick, Dominic Burrin with two and Jamie Macdonald. A strong performance from each of the defenders – Peter Durance, Michael Murray, Phil Tomlinson and Neil Grant – made sure that Morpeth III kept a clean sheet.