It’s Valentine’s day as firsts continue their winning run

Morpeth I 4 Newcastle University III 0 North East Hockey League, Premier Division

It was success at the double for the men’s first team this weekend.

On Saturday, Morpeth took to ‘Fort Hirst’ to play their return fixture against Newcastle University’s third side.

After the previous match, which some say was the greatest comeback since the 1999 Champions League Final in football, the hosts knew that this was going to be a hard fought match if they were to get the three points.

The visitors are well drilled and a better side than their position in the league table indicates.

After an untidy start, which included a few loose passes and static movement, Morpeth soon found their stride and began to play simple and effective hockey – moving the ball with pace and accuracy around the pitch.

Good communication lead to great transfers and linear throughballs that were met by excellent lead runs by Luke Hudson, Ian Kendall and Ross Valentine.

Ritchie Brown and Tom Carmichael were true to form and held the midfield, linking up the defence and forwards very effectively.

The men in green and gold continued to move the ball with finesse and they eventually found weak spots in the Newcastle University defence.

Morpeth capitalised on good circle penetration and scored twice following short After a clinical trap at the top of the circle, a drag flick from Brown was parried by the keeper, but Valentine followed up with a skilful reverse flick to put the ball into the back of the net.

This was shortly followed by an indirect short corner shot from Dom Burrin, who was making his debut for the first XI. He scored with his first touch of the match, putting in a lovely goal in off the keeper’s pads, to make it 2-0.

Good composure from centre backs Adrian Dye and Tony Cook denied any direct lines to goal from the away side in the second half, although the students did mount some pressure as they worked the ball well and earned a number of short corners (some were awarded not just by the umpires, but by Morpeth too).

Sam Read once again made some outrageous saves to make sure a clean sheet was kept. However, this was not without the help of Rob Machin, who made an unbelievable mid-air stop just off the line mid-way through the half.

Morpeth sustained a brilliant level of hockey in periods of the second half, showing their ability to play their way out of tight spots and playing the ball into space.

Great linking up from David Breakey and Luke Hudson gave Hudson opportunities to bury two reverse hits into the back of the goal and he took both of them to seal a strong 4-0 victory.

Overall, it was a fine performance with all players giving 100 per cent from start to finish. A special mention goes to Valentine, who put in a tremendous amount of leg work and seemed to have played in all positions by the final whistle.

Starting line-up: Sam Read (GK), Adrian Dye, Tony Cook, Rob Machin, Stuart Fairbrother, Tom Carmichael, Ritchie Brown (C), David Breakey, Luke Hudson, Ross Valentine, Ian Kendall. Substitutes: Frank Cooper, Bruce McPate, Dom Burrin. Man-of-the-match: Frank Cooper.

• It was a tougher game for Morpeth on Sunday, but they came back to Northumberland with all three points after winning 4-3 at Stockton II.