An incomplete Newcastle side headed north to face the undefeated, top of the Premier Northern League Edinburgh once more. It was their final match of the season before the upcoming BUCS Premier Cup tournament, which will be held over the Easter break.
It was a slow start for the toon who, after narrowly losing the swim off, conceded the first goal of the match within the opening minute. Newcastle’s response proved unfruitful as their shot from the arc skimmed the crossbar. This initial inability to retaliate seemed somewhat reminiscent of their previous encounter against Edinburgh back in October when they lost 13-7.
Vicious defence in the pit meant that it was hard for Newcastle to feed the ball into the centre forward Beth Laidlaw. Edinburgh took full advantage of this with a long-range pass straight into Newcastle’s defensive half to their free player but the keeper, Jess Newman kept Newcastle out of trouble with a brilliant save as she was left on her own to face Edinburgh’s shooter. The consequent corner allowed Newcastle time to get back and cover, with another save from Newman giving them possession. Charlotte Blyth used this to swim the ball up, and pass to Sarah Poyntz but the keeper saved her shot.
“Vicious defence in the pit meant that it was hard for Newcastle to feed the ball into the centre forward Beth Laidlaw”
Undeterred, Newcastle continued to attack hard, with the first goal coming as the result of a quick one-two during a man-up between Blyth and Sophie Sowerby, with Sowerby putting Newcastle’s first point on the board. A substitution by coach Andy Little put Megan Lord in for the first time, swapping her with Laidlaw.
Unsettled by Newcastle’s goal, Edinburgh fought back, scoring first with a flick that caught Newman off guard, and again from a man-up, to make it 3-1. A goal from Newcastle’s Nikki Powley, and a lucky backhand shot from Edinburgh meant it was 4-2 at the end of the first quarter.
Another swim-off loss from Newcastle meant that Edinburgh took possession at the start of the second quarter, but a steal from captain Emma Little at half way gave Sowerby a chance to shoot. Multiple shots from both teams followed, but it wasn’t until the end of the quarter that both teams managed to put points on the board. Two goals from Poyntz and a goal from Sowerby meant that Newcastle closed the gap between them and Edinburgh, but were still left trailing 6-5.
“A goal from Newcastle’s Nikki Powley, and a lucky backhand shot from Edinburgh meant it was 4-2 at the end of the first quarter”
The third quarter began more promisingly for Newcastle as a goal from Sowerby brought them back into contention once more. Another goal from Poyntz as the result of a man- up in Edinburgh’s defensive end followed- an artfully placed shot which hurtled into the top right hand corner, curving past the keeper and into the net gave Newcastle the lead for the first time. The rest of the quarter was close-fought, as despite Edinburgh failing to capitalise on a penalty, they managed to score two more goals, to make it 8-7 going into the final quarter.
The final quarter was a palpably tense affair. After five minutes of hard graft by both sides, the score remained as it was until the final minutes. With just three minutes on the clock, Sowerby equalised, suggesting that Edinburgh’s unbeaten run might just be about to end. Against the odds, in the final thirty seconds, Sowerby, chased by a defender, took on Edinburgh’s keeper and tapped the ball into the net, giving Newcastle the lead, with just 14 seconds of the quarter remaining. Megan Lord describes the final moments of the match as ‘the most terrifying 14 seconds of my life’ as Newcastle fought to cling on to their lead. A last- ditch, long range shot from Edinburgh to make it level hit the post, with Little protecting the ball in the final moments.
“Against the odds, in the final thirty seconds, Sowerby, chased by a defender, took on Edinburgh’s keeper and tapped the ball into the net”
The final whistle brought tears, disbelief and jubilation on the sideline, as Newcastle clinched victory. It is the first time Newcastle have beaten Edinburgh in five years, and goes to show just how much the side have gelled and developed over the season compared to their initial loss against Edinburgh- a feat achieved despite missing key players. A massive commendation must be made to keeper, Jess Newman, whose consistent saves against an impressive range of shots and lobs undoubtedly won Newcastle the match.
The monumental win means that Newcastle move into second place, ahead of Durham, which puts them in a really promising position for the BUCS Premier League Cup. We wish them all the best; with a full squad and this victory under their belt, they seem unstoppable.