Draw feels like a victory for Morpeth firsts

Morpeth I 0 Durham University III 0 North East Hockey League, Premier Division

AFTER being unable to secure maximum points last weekend, Morpeth men’s first team entered their match with the current league leaders in a fighting spirit.

A tactical pre-match meeting ensured every player knew what was to be expected of them and from the first whistle, it was evident that the home side were out to show the visitors why they deserved to be riding high in the Premier Division.

A solid first 20 minutes followed with the defensive line of Mulligan, Fairbrother, Dye and Holmes not only cutting out any advances by the opposition, but they were also instrumental in distributing and maintaining possession of the ball.

On the backing of this solid defence, the midfield could show how much damage they can do when given the opportunity.

The sublime skills and penetrating runs of eventual man-of-the-match James Breakey, coupled with the fighting spirit of Shafiq and Carmichael, allowed the wingers Danecki and Calder to attack deep into the Durham ‘D’.

Notable performances by Dixon, Mellor, Brown, McPate and Foster, making his first team debut, ensured that the entire team finished the first 35 minutes full of confidence and with a real sense of team pride.

The second half started much the same way as the first, with excellent spells of play by both sides. The Morpeth defensive line maintained their outstanding performance, which resulted in an unusually quiet game for keeper Jackson, who only had to parry away two shots on his goal throughout the entirety of the game.

As fatigue began to set in, cracks started to appear in the Durham line-up and their mistakes were turned into attacking opportunities for Morpeth. A short corner led to captain Brown almost breaking the deadlock when his reverse shot hit the post. Other opportunities came from Calder and Breakey, who in turn set up Danecki twice for two quick-fire shots that just missed the target, much to the forward’s frustration.

The passion shown by Shafiq and Mulligan unfortunately resulted in both players being shown yellow cards, but even when reduced to 10 men, Morpeth kept up their effort and held off the Durham advances.

The final whistle blew, much to the relief of the tired legs of the Morpeth players. Although there was no outright winner, being able to secure a point from a team who has won the league for the last four years felt like a cup tie victory for the home side – a result that is sure to raise the eyebrows of the other teams in the league.

The result was a testament to every player on the pitch who put in 100 per cent effort and shows just how good a team is representing Morpeth in the division. Although man-of-the-match was justifiably awarded to Breakey, every player deserves a special mention, particularly the defensive back four.