Hockey: Morpeth II 2 Stockton III 0
After a surprising 1-1 draw down in Billingham last week, Morpeth men’s second team returned home to take on Stockton thirds, a game in which they aimed for a solid three points.
Morpeth started strongly, stringing together passes looking to open the channels and get the ball wide early.
Last week, Peth struggled to finish and be clinical in the D and essences of last week seemed to be seeping in slightly, with great chances left, right and centre.
Constant pressure on Stockton’s defence finally brought Morpeth a short-corner in which a superb piece of individual skill from Phelps, with a quick right-left drag followed by a good flick into the left-hand side of the goal.
This calmed Peth down but still found Stockton pressing hard, but a sturdy defence of Durance, Hinshaw, Whitehead and Mulligan made textbook challenges to relieve Peth, giving the midfield and forwards the ability to break quickly.
Going into half-time at 1-0, Morpeth were frustrated as they should have seen the game off at that point, but with heads still high, a quick change in defensive tactics allowed Peth to put more pressure on Stockton earlier, seeing Gilmore win balls from their 16 hit-outs.
Frustration again began to creep in until a break-away from Phelps found Hinshaw darting towards goal. An early flick was saved, but Gray collected the rebound and slid the ball to Hinshaw, who struck lucky, with the ball getting a touch from the keeper but still nestled in the bottom corner.
At 2-0, the game seemed over, but Stockton continued to press and Morpeth became irritable after a string of 50-50 decisions hadn’t gone their way.
A plethora of short-corners put Morpeth’s defence on the line but it held strong and didn’t concede to keep Morpeth with a clean-sheet, Stewart making a couple of good saves. But this didn’t mask the fact that tempers were still high and attitudes swinging.
With three minutes to go, Hinshaw lazily left his stick out, giving the umpire no choice in showing a yellow card. A bitter end to what was a good day of hockey for Morpeth and saw them back in the winning books.
Morpeth III 3 Newcastle Medics II 1
Two first half goals from Morpeth men’s thirds saw them race into the lead, and a third was added early in the second half.
Newcastle Medics scored late on in the match but the goal only proved to be a consolation in what turned out to be a fairly comfortable win for the home side.
Morpeth took the lead inside the first 10 minutes of the game through Max Renwick as he was set away down the inside-right channel before finishing with aplomb across the Medics goalkeeper.
A second was then added shortly after, again through Max Renwick, from a short-corner. Both the injection from Michael Murray and the strike from Renwick were good enough to beat the Medics goalkeeper and add to the one-goal lead.
The score remained at 2-0 until half-time. Newcastle Medics may well have considered themselves unlucky not to pull one back before the break but the Morpeth defence and goalkeeper Glynn Evans (making his highly-anticipated return) were up to anything the Medics attack could offer.
Shortly after the interval, Morpeth added another goal to their lead through Adam Shafiq, sliding the ball through the Medics goalkeeper’s legs after being played through by a slide-rule pass from Andy Gallivan.
As legs began to tire, spaces opened up in the midfield and it was to be the Medics who took full advantage of this, converting a five-on-four opportunity towards the end of the game.
As the final whistle sounded, Morpeth were able to reflect on what may not have been their most spectacular victory of the season, but a well-earned one nonetheless. A special mention also goes to the clubs’ young players Dominic Burrin, Gregor Pearce, Finlay Pearce, Adam Shafiq and Mo Hamud who all gave very good accounts of themselves.