Morpeth I 1 Marton Furness II 1 North East Hockey League, Premier Division
A point proved enough as Morpeth secured promotion into the North Hockey League for the first time in the club’s history with three games remaining.
The Longhirst-based outfit went into their final home game of the season knowing that a win would guarantee their promotion into North Division 2 East.
After a solid performance the previous week away to Durham University IV, the boys in green and gold went into the game in high spirits. They came up against a Marton Furness side that were looking to secure their league status, so the hosts could expect a tough encounter.
The game got off to a fairly edgy start and with neither side really dominating, Morpeth looked a shadow of their usual selves. They struggled to play the fast fluid hockey that had been so successful all season.
As a result, it was the away side that took an early lead. A short corner was dispatched into the roof of the net as Morpeth were caught cold.
However, this seemed to kick the home side into gear as they started to get onto the front foot. Good forward movement allowed Morpeth to have sustained periods of pressure in the Furness 23.
As a result, they were able to win their first short corner, which Ritchie Brown dispatched beyond the keeper to level the scores.
The rest of the half was void of any clear opportunities from open play – both teams won a string of short corners but were unable to convert. Notable mention goes to keeper Sam Read and his defensive line that made a number of outstanding saves and clearances.
Half time came with the sides still level.
In the second half, it became apparent that the away side were happy to camp in their own half and play on the break. Morpeth looked to take the game to Furness and pressed high, winning the ball in a number of good positions, but again lacking that killer instinct to carve out a clear-cut chance.
With both Frank Cooper and Callum Hinshaw bombing forward, the hosts exposed the width well. However, with so many opposition bodies in the way, they continued to struggle to break them down.
Ross Valentine and Hinshaw were both denied by the Furness keeper and an unmarked Alex Ingram was unfortunate not to get a touch on a ball across goal.
With the game drawing to a close, Morpeth had a couple of scares as the away side continued to win short corners, but thankfully none of them were converted.
The full time whistle went and the game finished honours even.
By no means was this a classic Morpeth performance, and they may have felt they could have done better, but with other results going their way, a point proved enough to guarantee promotion into the North Hockey League for the first time in the club’s history.
With three games remaining they can now enjoy themselves, although the players will still work hard to try to win these games. On Saturday, they face local rivals Tynemouth in what should be a cracker of a game.