Tough trip to north west for the ladies

Brooklands Poynton Ladies II 5 Morpeth Ladies I 0 North Hockey Women’s League, Division One

MORPETH managed to clinch a point in last season’s fixture with the Manchester side – a pleasing result having only travelled with 10 players.

But Saturday was a different story as they fell to a disappointing defeat.

With the luxury of a substitute and only one win for the home side so far this season, the girls in green and gold were feeling positive and eager to continue their good form on the back of a win against Bolton last week. However, within minutes of the push-back, they were on the back foot.

A quick turnaround from a free hit outside the D and some nifty movement by the Brooklands attack left the visitors a goal down. Morpeth looked lethargic and perhaps the three-hour journey played its part, but the final scoreline was harsh on them.

Despite a couple of well-worked moves up the left with Pollock and Blissett linking well, Morpeth really struggled to make an impact on the Brooklands defence. O’Mahony injected some pace up-front after 10 minutes, but it was to no avail.

The hosts were slick and transferred the ball across the pitch with precision, making it look far too easy at times. They added a couple more to the scoresheet in quick succession as the Longhirst Hall-based side lost possession in the middle third of the pitch and failed to pick up the swift-moving forwards.

At half-time Morpeth knew they had been out-played, but determined as ever, their performance was much improved in the second half.

Corish chased the ball down well on the right and made a number of great tackles to dispossess the Brooklands defence. The disciplined formation and incessant hassling from the forwards meant that the Manchester side were confined to their defensive third and it was only a matter of time before the away side got their reward with a penalty corner.

A move out to the right and back to McLean on the penalty spot allowed her to sweep the ball first time towards the top right-hand post, but the shot was palmed over the bar by the keeper.

Brooklands remained dangerous on the break and they had the quality to put the game out of reach with the slickest of goals by their centre forward.

Receiving the ball with her back to goal, a well-timed strike hit with real venom left Rose and the rest of the Morpeth players stunned – a superb finish to make it 4-0.

The visitors’ frustrations continued, with Pollock having their best chance. She skilfully bypassed two defenders at the top of the D and eliminated the keeper only to see her reverse stick tap go wide of the left post.

The final nail in the coffin came from a well-drilled penalty corner in which the ball travelling to the left was efficiently directed towards goal, only to be helped onto the backboard by Hindmarch.

The defeat leaves Morpeth eighth in the league, having only secured two wins so far this season. With Harrogate visiting on Saturday, the girls in green and gold will certainly be looking for three points.

Team: Rose, Hindmarch, Watkins, Hamilton, Bryson, Oborka-Letman, McLean, Bell, Blissett, Corish, Pollock, O’Mahony. Player-of-the-match: Pollock.

Morpeth Hockey Club’s ladies section would like to say a huge thank-you for the kind donations made by customers at the Morrisons supermarket last Sunday, where the girls were bag-packing to raise money for the club.

• Morpeth men’s third team were always going to be up against it away to Darlington I as they only had 10 players.

The hosts took the lead midway through the first half when a driven pass was turned in well by a forward.

But the visitors responded well and they had a few decent opportunities. Marc Stewart pulled off some excellent saves and the Morpeth defensive unit thwarted anything that the Darlington attack now threw at them.

Dominic Burren played excellently as a hold-up striker and set up Simon Gilmore, who had a couple of chances but failed to convert. Charlie Greenbeck played excellently down the left wing, especially in the first period, and his good dribbling was rewarded with a well-won short corner towards the end of the half.

Another individual stand-out performance was that of Adam Craggs. His mazy dribbling deservedly gained him the Morpeth man-of-the-match award.

Darlington re-grouped well during the interval and came out with some good tactics that they put into practice. They were rewarded early in the second half with two goals in very quick succession.

After Gilmore got injured, Morpeth were effectively down to nine men and a fourth goal was inevitably added late on in the game.