Three of the best from town

Morpeth I 3 Richmond I 1 North East Hockey League Premier Division

WITH only one game of the season to go Morpeth hosted Richmond.

As other results last week confirmed that the hosts could not be relegated, neither side really had anything to play for as far as the league was concerned, yet such was the mentality of each team that they were not going to sit back and give away the three points at stake so easily.

Credit must go to the defensive team of Mulligan, Fairbrother, Dye and McLean who did fantastically well to keep the score at 0-0 until the home side could find their feet.

Midfielder Carmichael linked up well with Stu Fairbrother and Adrian Dye keeping hold of the ball and spreading it wide to outgoing skipper Will McLean at left-back. McLean took the ball at pace and picked out a precise pass to Paul Danecki who did well to receive at the edge of the D, turn his defender inside out and had time to wind up for a thunderous strike into the back board for 1-0.

Shortly before half-time however Richmond’s persistence paid off with a little bit of fortune on their side when a weak and wayward shot was deflected off the several sticks in the bustling D, finding the goal for 1-1 at half-time.

Soon Morpeth doubled their lead when they flooded the Richmond D and young vice captain Ritchie Brown picked up a deflected shot at the top of the D. His reverse sweep was crudely deflected high and, reminiscent of his goal the week prior, sailed past the stranded keeper, 2-1 to the ‘Peth.

One theme of the resurgence in Morpeth’s season has been the ability to soak up pressure defensively and break on the counter-attack with some precise and composed passing.

And the third goal came when Valentine applied the finishing touch to make the score 3-1 to Morpeth, who finished seventh in the table.

Morpeth III 3 Newcastle I 3

North East Hockey League, Development League One

MORPETH Thirds were at home to Newcastle and looking for revenge after the defeat earlier in the season, however, with Newcastle fourth in the league it was never going to be an easy match.

Morpeth started the match in the same way they started against Wilton with an early press and had some good attacking play with a strong centre midfield of Hermes and Adam Craggs which kept the ball in the oppositions half.

However, Newcastle were quick on the counter and Morpeth soon found themselves having to defend in their own D, and although Morpeth were able to clear they soon found themselves having to defend a short corner.

The Morpeth defence were well drilled in defending these, however, and Michael Holden and Peter Durance were able to clear the ball away.

This lead to another Morpeth break and although both sides pushed it looked like the score would be 0-0 at half-time.

Unfortunately Newcastle gained another short corner and the drag flick was taken above the keeper and the two post men could do nothing to stop the ball nestling in the top corner, and as a result the half ended 1-0 in Newcastle’s favour.

This was not the end of Morpeth though and straight after half-time they were rewarded with a short corner with some good play by Jamie Macdonald, and thanks to a Newcastle deflection Morpeth were back on equal terms.

This fight back from Morpeth meant that they had all the possession and Newcastle were unable to clear their lines.

A cross by Adam Craggs found Jamie and it looked like Morpeth would have their second, however, a body check by the Newcastle centre back meant that Jamie ended up on the floor. This meant that Morpeth were awarded a flick which Adam Craggs tucked neatly into the bottom corner.

However, this was not the end of Newcastle and even though Tim Van Zwan nearly scored the third with his first touch of the match, Newcastle fought back and were rewarded with an equaliser.

This signalled a breakdown of the midfield and Morpeth fell deeper and deeper into their own half and although some great defending by Finch and Durance stole the ball from under the attackers nose and started a counter attack, Newcastle won a short corner.

Holden was out quick again but the ball caught Vaughn Gordon’s foot on the line and as a result the second penalty flick of the game was given.

Although Evans went the right way and even got a glove to it he was unable to keep it out and it looked like Morpeth would end the game with nothing.

But some great play down the right by Joe Race saw Craggs with a chance to cross the ball to Nick Larvin who took the shot first time and put it bottom corner, and as a result Morpeth came away with a result worthy of their performance against a much higher team.