Newcastle, who compete in the division above their local rivals in the BUCS leagues, went into the match full of confidence and expectation. However, Northumbria proved too tough to beat and were worthy of the 1-1 draw.
In fact, it was the poly underdogs who made the brighter start to the game. Their lead forward missed a good opportunity in front of goal inside the first minute, after Newcastle had given possession away in defence. Shortly after that, Northumbria had a goal disallowed when a heavily deflected shot was deemed a high pass.
"it was the poly underdogs who made the brighter start to the game"
Newcastle began to grow into the game with midfielder Simon Jones making a lot of the early running. At the other end, Uni keeper Jack Paisley was called into action to deny Northumbria’s captain from breaking the deadlock after the poly had been awarded a dubious short corner on 14 minutes. The tall figure of Paisley getting down well to his right to produce an acrobatic save. One for the cameras indeed.
After a relatively calm and low-tempo opening 20 minutes, Newcastle sprung into life and scored the game’s first goal. A swift attack down the left hand side eventually saw the ball find its way to Navraj Johal, who helped it on its way to Foxall, for a simple finish to put the Uni ahead.
What happened next was perhaps even better than the goal itself, as Foxall set off like a man on a mission toward the poly supporters. The Uni forward then dropped his stick before executing a double back flip in front of the stunned crowd. The celebration of the season award is undoubtedly already in the post.
Lifted by the goal and Foxall’s gymnastic display, Newcastle sprung another attack. Jones again played a part, finding space in midfield before travelling toward goal and feeding his teammate on the left. The Uni number 80 took the ball wide, making the angle tight and allowing for a simple stop from Northumbria’s goalie.
"Lifted by the goal and Foxall’s gymnastic display, Newcastle sprung another attack"
The hosts, Northumbria, came close to levelling on the half hour mark. Having worked the ball into space down the left, a poly attacker swivelled and his shot came back off the outside of the post. Paisley, in the Newcastle goal, seemed to have it covered nonetheless.
As the match moved towards half time, the crowd swung into life. The usual Stan Calvert chants were exchanged, led by members of the Newcastle Ladies Hockey Club. Not to be outdone, a member of the men’s Hockey club provided some half entertainment by streaking across one end of the pitch. Although, the March climate limited its length.
Both sides, perhaps startled by the streaker, started the second half slowly. No chances of any merit were mustered by either side and the Newcastle boys were guilty of a few sloppy errors, meaning the poly grew in confidence.
A rare mistake from Jones gifted possession to the opposition deep in Newcastle’s half. Northumbria attacked quickly and sent a dangerous low pass across the danger area but the poly striker somehow missed from straight in front of the goal, when it looked easier to score.
The poly’s pressure finally told two minutes later. The hosts turned the ball home after a goalmouth scramble, to the delight of the poly faithful on the sideline. Buoyed by the equaliser, Northumbria took a hold of the game. Meanwhile, Newcastle looked shaken and continued to struggle to hold on to any meaningful spells of possession.
"Buoyed by the equaliser, Northumbria took a hold of the game"
As the game entered the last ten minutes, it was Northumbria who looked most likely to steal the crucial Stan Calvert points. Jack Paisley was again called upon to confidently fist clear from a poly short corner.
Newcastle were then awarded a short corner of their own after their number 8 was hacked down by a poly defender, who then went on to shove the Uni player to the ground. Jones was unable to convert the subsequent chance.
"number 8 was hacked down by a poly defender, who then went on to shove the Uni player to the ground"
With only minutes remaining, Newcastle’s hopes of nicking the victory were dashed as Danny Dempsey-Parr received a two-minute sin bin for committing a cynical foul as Northumbria broke forward. Neither side ever looked to fully commit men forward as both seemed wary of conceding a late goal.
The last play of the game almost saw Northumbria break Newcastle hearts. The poly again looked like scoring but, under heavy pressure from the formidable Paisley, the striker couldn’t get his effort on target.