Sticking it to Sheffield

The Hockey 2nds made it back to back BUCS wins last Wednesday with a near perfect display against a strong Sheffield side. The 2s have surprised many by hitting the ground running in Northern 2b having only earned promotion into the league last year.

Goals from defender Nathan Claris and striker Hugo Clark in each half were enough to see off the travelling side, on a mild but misty late afternoon at fortress Longbenton.

The match was a high intensity affair. Newcastle were quick to strike an advantage, converting from the game’s first short corner after just 5 minutes. Will O’Brien flicked the ball back to fellow defender Nathan Claris who clinically dispatched it into the back of the net.

Despite taking an early lead, the hosts seemed somewhat anxious in the first half. On the pitch there was plenty of frantic chatter and during a spell on the side line, captain Charlie Carr shouted at his players not to dive in, as Sheffield began to enjoy more possession.

Newcastle’s irritation then turned on the officials as Simon Jones was wrongly penalised for bringing down a lobbed pass in space. The umpire’s decision making was again queried when Sheffield were awarded a short corner on 20 minutes, but the visitors could only produce a tame effort on goal, easily blocked.

“Newcastle’s irritation then turned on the officials as Simon Jones was wrongly penalised for bringing down a lobbed pass in space.”

This was to become a theme throughout the game, in fact Newcastle goalie Tom Dodds didn’t have to make one save in the 70-minute match. Sheffield did manage to put the ball in Dodds’ net, but the goal was rightly chalked off after a clear infringement from the attacker.

Newcastle came through the first half unscathed and in the second produced a much more confident and composed performance. Orchestrated by the experienced heads of Carr, Henry Hazell, O’Brien and Claris, Newcastle patiently kept the ball and waited for a breakthrough.

In their desperate attempts to regain possession, Sheffield became frustrated, resulting in a trip to the sin bin for their number 35. Soon after, Newcastle doubled their advantage. Sheffield had possession in midfield but a quick turnover found Clark (too lazy to track back) in acres of space. The striker turned for goal and with time to pick his spot, calmly beat the keeper at the near post.

“The final whistle was greeted with delight from the home team.”

Sheffield pressed for a lifeline but were limited to half chances, at best. A short corner ended in another limp effort that went harmlessly wide, before the visiting captain somehow found room in the area but managed to swing too hard and miss the ball completely.

The final whistle was greeted with delight from the home team. Club President Will O’Brien spoke after the match, “we knew that Sheffield were going to be one of the hardest opponents in the league so we set up thinking we need to go for this”.

The win moves Newcastle up to joint 2nd in the table, a point behind local rivals Northumbria. “We’re looking to win our league, which if you’d said at the end of last season having just got promoted, we’d have snapped your arm off.”

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