Morpeth I 6 Stockton II 2 North East Hockey League, Premier Division
After victory in their opening league fixture the previous week, Morpeth’s men’s first team entertained Stockton in their first home match of the new season.
The home side welcomed back influential evergreen player/coach McPate from injury, while an injury to Gayner gave Danecki the opportunity to show he could still cut it in the first team.
It was the skilful Stockton forwards that created the first clear-cut opportunities, winning a couple of short corners after quick breakaways.
Fortunately for the ‘Peth, they found Read in fine short corner stopping form, saving the first with his body and the second with a fine stick save.
The men in green and gold dominated possession and created a number of chances, including a couple of short corners, and it was only a matter of time before one of these was taken with Danecki finishing after some good work from another experienced player, Kendall.
Morpeth’s new exciting style of attacking hockey certainly creates lots of opportunities, but it also leaves them vulnerable to being caught on the break and when Stockton took one of these chances, Morpeth found themselves level at 1-1 at half-time, even though they had dominated the first half.
The second half got off to a great start when some fine interplay involving half the team led to one of the finest goals ever witnessed at Longhirst.
The ball was worked to skipper Brown and he applied the finishing touch – with the Stockton keeper completely wrong-footed.
Morpeth were again pegged back as Cook gave the ball away and was unable to recover as the Stockton forward slotted past a helpless Read.
However, after a re-shuffle at the back which saw Cooper join Machin in the middle to add some much needed solidity, the hosts stepped up a gear and were soon back in front.
Some good work from Breakey gave Foster a decent opportunity and he took it to restore the advantage.
A drag-flick from Fairbrother took the Stockton keeper (and everybody else) by surprise to extend the lead and when a further strike from Danecki made the score 5-2, it appeared that the job was done.
With a three-goal lead, Morpeth attempted to press the self-destruct button, but fortunately Stockton found that Read had had enough of having his defence breached and made a string of fine saves.
Danecki then wrapped up the scoring and his hat-trick to make the final score 6-2 and was unlucky to narrowly miss out on the man-of-the-match vote to the impressive Read.
Morpeth’s starting line-up: Read (GK), Machin, Cook, Fairbrother, Hinshaw, Carmichael, Breakey, Brown (C), Kendall, Dixon, Foster. Substitutes: Cooper, McPate, Danecki.