Morpeth started this season-closing encounter knowing that a positive result was needed against one of their two fellow league strugglers to ensure that relegation would be avoided. Unfortunately, they also started the game with only nine players on the pitch and no keeper following transport difficulties that could have put paid to their chances should the home team have pressed home their early doors numerical advantage. However, as had already happened once before this season, the Third Team refused to be daunted and managed to see out the first ten minutes with no shots needing to be faced by the simple expedient of them not allowing the opposition to force their way into the 'D'. When the cavalry arrived, good interplay between Macdonald & Foster nearly resulted in the latter opening the scoring. With composed play from the back by Malecki & Mellor being built upon by fine midfield play from Carmichael & Murgatroyd, it was only another five minutes before Morpeth took a deserved lead. On this occasion Foster took his opportunity, calmly flicking the ball past the approaching keeper into the right hand side of the goal. Though Marton started to have some offensive play of their own, the away side always looked dangerous on the counter attack and Murgatroyd assuredly finished one of these with another flicked finish, this time to the goalkeeper's left. Furness tried to respond with a few short corners at the end of the half but resilient defending meant that a two goal advantage was retained.
No chickens were being counted at the start of the second period and the Northumberland-based side started to dominate the play via good ball retention, accurate passing and intelligent laying off of the ball. The Teesiders became increasingly frustrated and a green card was awarded for back-chatting of the umpire. Larvin & Race pressed on both wings and a combination of both forceful & creative hockey resulted in a number of short corners being awarded to 'Peth. On one occasion, after a sustained attack, the ball was forced in by Larvin but the whistle had just been blown for another 'short'. The away side were not to be denied and Macdonald looked to have scored the all-important third. His close-in flick was obstructed by a defender's leg on the line and a penalty flick was awarded. Mellor made sure from the spot with a smooth as silk conversion and the game looked to be won. However, there was still over a third of the match to be played and much concentration was still required from Gordon at the back. Yet another goal was disallowed after the ball had been forced over the line by Macdonald seemingly due to the ball having not fully come out of the 'D' from the short corner just prior. A fourth goal, scored by Murgatroyd, appeared to provide significant breathing space and with Marton being temporarily reduced to ten as a result of a yellow card for arguing that should have been that. However, they managed to win a penalty flick of their own after a shot had hit the post and this provided them with some impetus. Though only five minutes remained Morpeth tired as much mentally as physically and another goal was conceded when a Furness player was left unmarked. The away keeper, Stewart, was now being called into the action and he made a great save to push the ball onto the far post. However, Morpeth rallied once more at the end and saw out a thoroughly deserved, very impressive & hugely important victory. Oil had eventually been poured on troubled waters.
M.o.t.m. - Tom Carmichael