Morpeth I 4 Jesmond Parish Church I 1 North East Hockey League, Premier Division
Morpeth welcomed JPC to fortress Longhirst in what would be another telling clash at the top of the league on Saturday.
A victory for the hosts would increase their lead over the third placed opposition, but after a 10-goal draw in the reverse fixture, they would have to play well to take all three points.
Morpeth started the game in organised fashion, not allowing JPC any space to play and pinning them in their own half. This gave the men in green and gold the opportunity to use their pace in the forward line to create chances.
Before long, the Longhirst-based outfit drew first blood.
Cooper pounced on a wayward pass from the opposition and played forward to Hudson. He drove at the defence before making an inch perfect reverse stick pass to Dixon, who was never going to miss as he slid the ball past the keeper.
As the half progressed, the home side continued to control the game and they won a succession of penalty corners. Skipper Brown struggled to find his radar for the first couple, but eventually buried one into the bottom right corner to grab his first and Morpeth’s second.
They had a short corner to defend just before half time, but it was dealt with well and they finished the half two goals up.
At half time, Morpeth knew they could not afford to let standards slip, otherwise it would allow the opposition back into the game.
As the game restarted once again, the hosts kept their shape and broke down play well in the middle. Dye, Cook, Machin, Cooper and Fairbrother all stuck to their roles superbly to limit JPC to half chances.
Before long, Morpeth went 3-0 up. Another penalty corner from Brown, this time dispatched into the top left corner.
They now appeared to be in full control, but moments later JPC managed to get a goal back from a penalty corner.
The home side remained calm and continued to move the ball around the pitch, using the wide areas particularly well, as they dominated the possession stats.
The result was then put beyond doubt when McPate played a cute pass to Brown, who fired off a quick shot to complete his hat-trick and give Morpeth all three points.
This was a clinical and professional performance from a Morpeth side which will need to maintain that standard over the coming weeks.
Man-of-the-match: Ritchie Brown.