Morpeth I 1 Sunderland I 1 North East Hockey League, Division One
MORPETH entertained Division One league leaders Sunderland on a typical wet, cold and windy February afternoon at Longhirst.
Despite suffering from a great deal of misfortune throughout the season, Morpeth were hoping to keep their recent improvement in form going into what was bound to be a tricky game.
Morpeth were not just playing for pride. League points have been few and far between so far this season and more points are a must if Morpeth are to remain in Division One for next season.
Just 10 minutes into the game Morpeth were dealt a severe blow.
Already having five of the first choice squad out for the whole season due to injuries, Morpeth’s selection issues were not about to get any better.
Having been unavailable for several weeks from a kidney injury, midfield dynamo Tom Carmichael’s comeback and season was not going to get any better when he broke his collarbone in a clash in the middle of the pitch.
However, the home side’s determination to get something from the game shone through, as some great passing play from defence right through to attack opened up the Sunderland defence and allowed Ritchie Brown a clear run to then slip the ball under the charging keeper.
Half-time soon arrived with only a few scares for the Morpeth defence, otherwise the league leaders were at the very least being equalled in all aspects.
The second half supplied yet another addition to Morpeth’s catalogue of controversy for the season when shortly after the restart Sunderland turned in a short-corner with an attacker chesting in the ball at the back post.
Unfortunately, neither umpire saw the infringement and Sunderland had no intentions of owning up to the deliberate foul, so the scores were locked at 1-1.
Other than a 10-minute wobble towards the latter stages of the game, Morpeth had numerous chances to put the game beyond doubt and notch up a great win.
Sadly it wasn’t to be, and keeper Steve Jackson (ably assisted by his four defenders) pulled off a string of great saves to make sure that Morpeth were to take at least one point from the afternoon.
With any luck, this show of great determination and resurgence in Morpeth’s recent games shall continue for the remaining fixtures securing their Division One status.
Morpeth can certainly take some great belief and credit forward after some great play and, with just a little patience, composure in front of goal and a healthy dose of good luck (for a change) there will be plenty more points to add to their league tally before it gets too late.
Man-of-the-match: Ritchie Brown.