Lions refuse to lie down against strong opposition

Morpeth Lions U12s 3 Wansbeck U12s 6

THE Lions needed to be at their best against a free-scoring and powerful Wansbeck side who were leading the league’s goal-scoring table at the start of the match.

Morpeth made two changes from the side who had been involved in the epic cup win at Wideopen the week before, with D Thompson replacing the absent Magneron in goal and J Thompson slotting back into his favoured left-back slot alongside Brown, Bowden and Campbell.

It was easy to see why Wansbeck had scored freely this season as they had a front four, who showed both power and pace, which completely caught the Lions off guard in the first minute – with the visitors taking an early lead.

It looked as though it would be a very long afternoon for the home side as Wansbeck stretched their lead after only five minutes with another well-taken goal, after which D Thompson made a string of fine saves to prevent them running away with the game.

But the Lions are made of sterner things this season and in Nicholson they have a centre-forward who can still cause havoc in most teams’ defences.

With Milburn starting to reorganise the lads around him it was not long before Morpeth pulled a goal back after good work from Hill and Gascoigne in the centre of the park released Nicholson to race clear of the Wansbeck defence to finish in style.

The Lions were starting to get a foothold in the game and when a long ball from D Thompson caught the Wansbeck defence flat-footed, Nicholson once again raced clear to chip the advancing keeper to make it all square at 2-2.

As the half wore on, it was the Lions who looked more likely to score, with Young, Robson and Milburn all going close, but as the whistle was about to go, a flowing move from one end of the pitch to the other saw the visitors going into the half-time break with the lead.

The next goal was going to be crucial and, unfortunately, it was Wansbeck who were to extend their lead just after the interval after another powerful run down the left and a pinpoint cross left D Thompson with no chance as the ball was met perfectly by the visiting centre-forward.

However, this was always going to be a game of twists and turns and when Bowden found Gascoigne, who in turn fed Milburn out wide, his cross was met by Nicholson at the front post to record his third hat-trick of the season.

Morpeth threw caution to the wind and changed their formation to three at the back with J Thompson taking over in goal from D Thompson, who moved upfront to help Nicholson, but as the Lions pressed for the equaliser, they were caught out twice at the back by Wansbeck in the last five minutes resulting in a 3-6 scoreline, which didn’t quite reflect the whole story of the game.

However, the Lions could take a lot of positives out of the match and their never-say-die attitude will stand them in good stead for the rest of the season.