Plenty of positives after decent draw

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Leeds Uni Ladies I 1 Morpeth Ladies I 1 North Hockey Women’s League, Division One

MORPETH travelled down the A1 determined to reverse their recent run of defeats.

However, they knew they would have to be at their best against a student team who are riding high towards the top of the league.

The game started at a frenetic pace, with both teams eager to gain the upper hand and put the opposition on the back foot.

The home side made the first few chances, but the Morpeth defence held firm, with Lyn Watkins and Alison Elliott in particular quick to make a strong tackle and snuff the danger out.

This platform built the confidence of the team. Lucy Deakins and Nikki McLean started to find some space in the midfield and were able to get in behind the defence.

Unfortunately, the ball would not quite break for the forwards in the circle and when it did, the keeper made a couple of good point-blank saves from Arran O’Mahony.

Undaunted, the University side continued to stream forward and it took some quality defending from Karen Hindmarch and Teleri Hamilton to keep them from getting a shot away.

But eventually, they created a chance through sheer weight of numbers and their centre-forward smacked the ball crisply into the corner of the goal.

For the next few minutes, the visitors had their backs to the wall, with both keeper Janice Rose and Sally Bryson called upon to block goalbound shots away.

However, with so many of the students pushing forward, the scope for a fast break was always there. Becky Blades looked particularly dangerous when she was on the ball.

Just before the break, Lindsey Pollock and McLean combined well on the right before finding Hamilton, who picked the ball up at pace and drove to the back-line.

She pulled it neatly back and McLean, who had followed her forward run, was on hand to knock it past the sprawling keeper into the far corner (1-1).

The second half followed a similar pattern, but with fewer clear-cut chances being created.

Watkins was particularly effective in blocking the University attacks and Elliott kept her cool a couple of times to swipe the ball off the penalty spot when under pressure from two forwards.

Deakins continued to make some great runs into the channels and was linking well with Blades, but the home defence managed to restrict the away side to a few long-distance shots that were not going to really trouble their goalkeeper.

Having lost the previous match in the last couple of minutes, Morpeth held their composure and retained possession to make sure they came away with a point.

They got their just deserts for a solid all-round team performance against a quick, slick and generally younger opposition.

Morpeth are on their travels again this Saturday. They face a Didsbury side that have started the season well and are currently second in the table.

Team: Janice Rose, Karen Hindmarch, Lyn Watkins, Alison Elliott, Teleri Hamilton, Sally Bryson, Nikki McLean (c), Lucy Deakins, Lindsey Pollock, Becky Blades, Arran O’Mahony, Lucy Murgatroid. Player-of-the-match: Lyn Watkins.