Baptists lose out in tight battle

Jesmond Parish Church 4 Morpeth Baptist Church 3 North East Christian Fellowship League, Division One

DESPITE another good performance Morpeth Baptist Church (MBC) narrowly lost a competitive but entertaining match to a strong JPC team, currently sitting second in the league.

Five goals were scored in an end-to-end first half-hour of the match. MBC, not for the first time this season, scored an early goal as, from their first attack in the first minute, Lavender’s shot was blocked by the keeper, but Chambers was on hand to fire home.

JPC looked rattled and there were plenty of strong challenges across the pitch in the early stages. The Jesmond team was full of big, strong players, but Morpeth were up for the physical challenge.

Elliott, having been warned moments earlier for a dangerous two-footed lunge, was soon after booked for a trip on an advancing JPC forward. It wasn’t long before JPC equalised, and their physical approach combined with a direct approach was responsible.

A long throw was launched into the MBC box, wasn’t dealt with by the defence and a forward was able to score unchallenged.

Minutes later, from a similar source, the initial throw-in was headed on and defender Brooks couldn’t react quickly enough as the ball bounced off him into the back of the net for an unfortunate own-goal.

MBC were soon back on level terms, however, as the match swung from one end of the pitch to the other. Johnson stole the ball in the centre circle and slotted in left-winger Bellamy, whose left-footed shot spun just inside the far post.

Parity was short-lived, however, as minutes later, a quality finish from the JPC number nine from outside the area gave goalkeeper Appleby no chance.

Soon after, Appleby made a great save from another fine shot but as the ball rebounded off the bar, the number 10 was unable to score in the unguarded net.

The second half saw fewer goals, but no less entertainment. Further strong challenges took place from both sides and the referee turned down what looked like a clear shout for a penalty for handball for the away team.

MBC appeared to be in control of the match but, after dominating play and looking the most likely next scorers, they were undone by a fluke goal.

JPC’s Tim Hawe crossed a ball from close by the left corner-flag that somehow curled over the keeper and inside the back-post.

Despite being two goals down, MBC kept battling and their determined performance saw them get back into the match with 25 minutes still to play. Man-of-the-match Dewhirst showed determination to intercept a pass and then played a great through-ball to centre-forward Lavender, who calmly finished.

MBC pressed for an equaliser but chances were rare. Richardson came on as substitute and played well against his former team. It was JPC who created the best chance but Appleby tipped a good shot round the post.

Despite their efforts, MBC couldn’t find the equaliser. They possibly deserved to get something from the match and will look forward to the return fixture at Storey Park in three weeks’ time.

Team: D. Appleby, P Brooks (M Richardson), T Brown, B Dewhirst, P Fletcher, A Carmichael (A Haxell), D Johnson, A Elliott (C Snowball), M Chambers, J Bellamy, B Lavender. Subs (not used): R Garbutt, M Curry.