Certainly not second best

Billingham I 3 Morpeth II 1 North East Hockey League, Division Four

THE match started at a lively pace with Billingham pressing Morpeth Seconds.

After a brief spell on top, Morpeth conceded as a result of a succession of crosses.

The ball shot in from the left and after some scrappy play it rolled past the keeper into the goal (0-1).

However, Morpeth replied enthusiastically. During a couple of breaks from both wings, the craftiness of Chris Gordon earned them a short-corner. The keeper pulled off two saves in quick succession only for Chris Gordon to knock in Gareth Anderson’s short-range cross (1-1).

The remainder of the half followed with many good chances but neither managed to edge their side in front.

Notably for Morpeth, Adam Craggs slid his way past a couple of defenders to put himself through on goal but the keeper pulled off a good save.

Minutes later, he pulled off another terrific save from Jack Tordoff. Tom Beddis took one for the team when he was battered by a close-range flying reverse shot to the head.

However, after a couple of minutes, he completed the first half.

The second half began with Beddis being withdrawn due to his injury and the match left off where it began, both sides creating chances.

Billingham took the lead as a result of a sly short-corner. Minutes later, they scored again as a result of a dubious decision after Gavin Minty blocked a shin-high ball and sliced behind.

In the closing 10 minutes of the game, Morpeth went in search of a goal and left bodies up the pitch. But, as a result of the only striker being yellow-carded, the lack of numbers hampered Morpeth efforts to grab a goal back.

In the dying seconds, Tordoff was played through against the keeper but after going round him the angle was too tight to finish.

The match ended 3-1 to Billingham but on another day with the same performance, Morpeth could have easily got something out of the game. Notable performances came from Dan James, for closing down dangerous crosses, centre-back Tom Beddis and man-of-the-match Gareth Anderson.

Morpeth III 6 Gateshead III 2 North East Hockey League, Division Four

MORPETH III, who were propping up the fourth division, hosted Gateshead III, just one place above them, in a do-or-die match at Longhirst.

Morpeth were the early pacesetters and mounted attack after attack which resulted in the first goal when Adam Brinsdon netted from open play after 10 minutes (1-0).

Morpeth were settled by this and increased their lead when Nick Larvin started to earn his man-of-the-match display with an opportunist strike, which found its way into the net after bouncing off the keeper and several defenders (2-0).

Totally dominant now, Morpeth easily handled the odd attack by Gateshead with the defence of skipper Emery, Tomlinson, Cook and Hinshaw coping with panache.

Morpeth’s midfield of Brinsdon, Tranter, Chandler and Renwick were totally controlling the midfield and feeding the forward duo of Evans and Larvin with ever-increasing frequency. But the Gateshead keeper was in the form of his life and veteran striker Evans was not. He missed several decent chances before Renwick stepped up to rifle the third goal from the edge of the circle. It was 3-0 and Morpeth were coasting.

Chandler added a fourth with a cool strike from a short corner and Evans netted one just before the break when the Gateshead defence rolled the ball into his path (5-0).

Morpeth decided it was safe to make some changes and bring on subs Thomsen and Durance and to be fair they slotted in without any problems, showing the great team spirit within the squad this season despite some disappointing results.

The second period was not as easy for Morpeth and Gateshead began to sniff a revival, which was reinforced when they scored from open play (5-1).

Morpeth were unsettled and began to feel the nerves despite the four-goal cushion.

Cometh the moment, cometh the man and Phil Tomlinson was that man. He broke out of defence to attack Gateshead’s circle and scored number six and calmed Morpeth nerves. From this point the result was never in doubt even though Gateshead grabbed a second from a penalty stroke.

It was three immense points to lift Morpeth off the bottom spot.

A good all round performance and Nick Larvin was justly voted man of the match by the opposition.