Students give Morpeth a lesson in finishing

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Newcastle Uni III 2 Morpeth I 1

FOR some of the Morpeth Hockey Club players, the familiar trip down Coach Lane to the Newcastle University pitches was more of a trip down memory lane where the ghosts of previous battles are ever-present.

Starting with a more attacking formation, the players from Morpeth showed they meant business from the whistle and showed some excellent link-play and forward drive.

Some notable penning-in and shepherding of the opposition from the dynamic combination of McLean, Fairbrother, Brown, Anderson, Danecki and Mellor meant that the students found very few gaps in which to formulate an attack.

Things were looking positive for the men in green and gold and, apart from a few silly mistakes, the game was swinging in the favour of the visitors.

After 15 minutes, a break from the home team resulted in a rather scrappy attempt on goal and even though Jackson made the initial save, the resulting deflection unfortunately bobbled into the path of one of the Uni players, who clubbed the ball into the back of the net (1-0).

Morpeth answered 10 minutes later when some excellent play between Shafiq, Carmichael and Brown ended up with the ball finding Ross Valentine at the back post. He swiftly nudged the ball past the keeper and over the line only to hear that the whistle blown was not for the goal but for a penalty-corner due to goalkeeper infringement. Needless to say, there were some questions to be asked.

The remainder of the first half continued with consistent end-to-end play with neither goal really seeing much action apart from a few wild attempts by the students and some well-drilled Morpeth penalty-corners that were unfortunate not to be dispatched into the net.

The score at half-time remained 1-0 in favour of the students.

Even though spirits were high in the Morpeth camp and players seemed to be enjoying the more attacking style of play, it was not easy to ignore the scoreline and a bit of home truth from coach McPate watching from the side-lines ensured that the second half would require a strong effort from all.

The second half started much in the same way as the first half with strong play from both sides. The students, however, soon started to show that regular play and training together pays off and they began to launch a bombardment of attacks on the Morpeth D but due to their complacency and lack of focus, all attempts bar one were dealt with by the back four of Mclean, Mulligan, Fairbrother and Mellor and keeper Jackson.

Following this blow, the Morpeth players turned on turbo mode and started some attacking of their own.

Man-of-the-match Brown showed his true value and found himself alone with the ball in the opposition’s D.

After weighing up all options as to where to put the ball, he decided it would be best to ‘pass’ it off the keeper’s pads back to the more experienced and confident fellow striker Danecki, who powered the ball past the diving keeper and into the back of the net, making the final score 2-1 to the students.

Even though the Morpeth players felt they could have taken three points from the game, not all was lost as they showed that by playing more attacking hockey, more scoring opportunities become available and hopefully in the second-half of the season, the silly mistakes sometimes made could be converted into strong play, goals and points on the board.

A big game against a powerful Marton Furness side awaits the team next week.

Marton Furness IV 2 v Morpeth II 2

IT was an early start and long journey down to a blowey Redcar to play Marton Furness IV for Morpeth’s Seconds.

Morpeth again had a much-changed side. As a result the team started slowly, looking disjointed and unable to hold the ball.

Early pressure came from Marton Furness. A mix-up in the Morpeth defence allowed Marton to break down their right to the Morpeth D. Tomlinson failed to deal with the attacker who squared the ball for the Marton centre-forward to bury it past the Morpeth keeper.

Half-time saw a stern, constructive team talk, with Morpeth 1-0 down.

They started the second half like they meant business. From a short-corner, Gilmore and Calder dummied the shot, exchanged a series of short, sharp passes to unbalance the keeper before Gilmore unleashed a goal-bound shot, beating the keeper, only to see Booth poach it on the line for the equaliser.

A move down the right by Hinshaw worked the ball into the D. A shot by Calder was again saved, the rebound coming out to Hinshaw, who fired it into the back of the net (1-2). Morpeth, now well on top, couldn’t find the third.

Whether it was tired legs or a loss of concentration, Morpeth opened up in midfield allowing Marton to press the Morpeth defence. Marton struck the ball hard across the D, hitting a Morpeth player, the deflection shooting up and towards goal only for it to glance the shaft of the Marton centre-forward’s stick and into the goal (2-2).

Not a glorious performance but everyone gave it their all.

Man-of-the-match: Hinshaw.