Sunderland Broom I 2 Morpeth I 3 North East Hockey League, Premier Division
Morpeth came away with the points on Saturday thanks to an excellent team display.
Off the back of a six-point haul last weekend, the away side’s spirits were high after creating a comfortable lead on Newcastle University II, who are one spot below in the league in third.
However, this was not going to be an easy fixture to win. A change of astroturf and determined opposition seemed to slow down an otherwise well-structured and clinical Peth side.
Morpeth began the first half well, keeping most of the possession and denying Sunderland any threatening plays within the 25.
Forwards Ross Valentine, Ian Kendall, John Dixon and Dom Burrin played some fantastic hockey around the keeper, creating some great two-on-one situations with the Sunderland defence.
After building smart plays and making good space for one another, they unfortunately were not able to convert any goals – even the magical Hudson reverse shot could not find the back of the net.
But where there is a will there must always be a way, as another clever attack from the frontline brought a short-corner.
Ritchie Brown stepped up to the top of the D with a one-way ticket for the hockey ball – destination: bottom left-hand corner. His aim was true and Morpeth took the lead.
Morpeth kept the fight going in the second half, with some decent tackles from Adrian Dye and Tony Cook stopping any dangerous Sunderland routes to goal.
In the absence of Tom Carmichael, David Breakey and Brown had to work hard in the middle to win back possession when lost and worked the ball into space well.
The team grafted on, trying to find the all-elusive second goal. It came after some great movement from the forwards, which opened up space for the midfield to drive along the back-line, where the ball was played to Dixon who slotted it underneath the keeper.
Mid-way through the second half, Morpeth began to slow up and lost a bit of composure – which allowed Sunderland to start shifting the ball around the pitch.
By creating cracks in the visitors’ press, they were able to play some long and dangerous passes into their opponent’s territory.
This was coupled with some loose marking at the back resulting in two Sunderland players getting through on goal.
Despite some close contact keeping, the hosts were able to get a goal back.
Both teams capitalised on sharp counter-attacks and quick free-hit taking towards the end of the match.
Rob Machin won a free-hit outside the Sunderland circle. Taking it quickly, he took the ball past the home defence and slotted it into the goal from the top of the ‘D’. Sadly, the goal was disallowed.
Sunderland started to build up some attacking pressure in the closing minutes, but luckily after a tackle from Frank Cooper on the half-way line, the ball went out to Kendall on the right wing. He put in a beautiful ball to Dom Burrin, who deflected in a lovely goal, giving the away side the all-important third goal.
With eight minutes to go, Sunderland managed to sneak in another goal, but the final score was 3-2 to Morpeth.
Starting line up: Sam Read (GK), Adrian Dye, Tony Cook, Stuart Fairbrother, Frank Cooper, Ritchie Brown (C), David Breakey, Luke Hudson, Ross Valentine, Ian Kendall, Dom Burrin. Substitutes: Rob Machin, Bruce McPate, John Dixon.
Man-of-the-match: Frank Cooper.