Morpeth I 2 Newcastle University II 1 North East Hockey League, Premier Division
AFTER a few disappointing results in recent weeks, Morpeth got back on track with an excellent home performance.
With a strong squad in place for this game, the men in green and gold knew that they had a good chance of winning if they played to their potential.
The opening period of the game saw the home side taking control. With Morpeth playing a half-court press, they were able to absorb the majority of pressure from the University side and hit them on the break.
There were a few good chances early on, particularly from short corners, although none of them were taken.
However, midway through the first half, the deadlock was broken when Ross Valentine ran the ball down the right-hand side before playing an inch-perfect pass to Ian Foster, who calmly slid the ball underneath the advancing keeper into the goal.
This gave Morpeth a huge morale boost as they went in search of more goals. Newcastle University were shaken and this showed in their play as they gave the ball away a number of times.
And it was not long before the hosts doubled their lead, this time with a real team goal. The ball was collected in the Morpeth half and played up the left-hand side by Ian Kendall to David Breakey.
The instrumental midfielder then passed on to Bruce McPate who found Foster near the back post and he in turn flicked it into the top corner.
Morpeth were looking very comfortable and were unlucky not to go into halftime 3-0 up when Kendall had a goal disallowed.
The visitors upped the tempo of their play in the second half and looked to ask more questions of the Longhirst-based side.
They had a string of short corners which were kept out, particularly with a number of good saves coming from keeper Steve Jackson. However, midway through the half, Morpeth’s defences were breached when a deflected ball found its way to a Newcastle University forward who was waiting in front of goal and had the simplest of tap-ins.
With five of the team picking up injuries during the half, the home side had their backs to the wall and for a period were down to nine players.
Despite the setbacks, Morpeth demonstrated a terrific rearguard action and were able to keep the away side at bay. When they were back to 11, Morpeth had no intention of letting their lead slip after playing so well and even put some attacks together to relieve the pressure.
They saw out the half to get a deserved three points. Man-of-the-match: Ian Foster.