Newcastle Ultimate once again turned it on for the Courier as the lads were too good for a Lancaster side looking to cause an upset.
The Fish arrived in Newcastle on the back of an impressive win against Sheffield 2nds last week, whereas the Pies’ form has been sketchy of late. They have underperformed in the league, sitting two places and three points off the top spot. But this is the cup. Anything can happen.
The Pies wasted no time in breaking the deadlock
The Northern Conference Cup is played between teams across the two Northern Second Divisions (A&B). Although Sheffield Hallam look to be the team to beat, Newcastle will fancy themselves to go all the way as they’ve proven that they can beat any team on their day.
With this in mind, the Pies wasted no time in breaking the deadlock. After receiving Lancaster’s pull, Chris De Leeuwe got the first play of the match underway.
The following exchange between Will Mulvaney and Andrew Macgill allowed Colin Wan to return the disc to De Leeuwe. The handler then delivered a superb pass through to Mulvaney to open the scoring. Moments later Wan doubled the team’s lead.
Despite being two points up, Newcastle didn’t relent. Eric Mussell-Webber almost made it three in as many minutes, but Nathan Rudge’s pass was deflected, and the captain wasn’t able to hold it.
However Rudge was more successful in the following passage of play. Scott Trotter, Macgill and Mulvaney combined well to give Pierre McCarthy the opportunity to pick out Rudge in the end zone.
Lancaster called for a timeout to tactically reshuffle. God knows they needed it
De Leeuwe then compiled Lancaster’s misery, assisting two points. Firstly he fed Charlie Huins beyond the Fish defence, and then, after receiving the disc from Mussell-Webber, found Macgill to make it 5-0.
Having conceded yet another point when Trotter picked out Max Vasey, Lancaster called for a timeout to tactically reshuffle. God knows they needed it.
However it was the Pies that made most of the break. Two minutes after the restart, a misplaced Fish pass was intercepted by Mussell-Webber who speedily dispatched a world-class pass onto De Leeuwe to score his first point of the match.
Immediately following that point, Newcastle applied the pressure again. Throughout the match thus far, Pies had been well-organised defensively and set up well; epitomised by Trotter’s point block just before half-time.
The break itself was finally brought about by Macgill after a tightly contested period. The tall No.22 scored the eighth point of the game without response from a pinpoint Pierre McCarthy pass.
The Pies maintained the pressure and were rewarded with yet another point. De Leeuwe starting and finishing the move via Macgill and Trotter
Although Lancaster took the chance to shake up their team at half time, Newcastle started the second half as they had finished the first. A Mussell-Webber interception started a blistering counter attack, finishing with George Perry latching onto a long pass from Macgill into the corner.
Despite not managing to covert in their next attack, Newcastle turned over possession yet again through a McCarthy interception. He shifted the disc onto De Leeuwe, who was once again provider as McCarthy ran on into the end zone.
Whilst two more displays of defensive perfection from De Leeuwe and Perry ensured Lancaster remained scoreless, Rudge was sought out but yet again couldn’t latch onto a pass destined beyond the goal line.
Nonetheless, the Pies maintained the pressure and were rewarded with yet another point. De Leeuwe starting and finishing the move via Macgill and Trotter.
In the subsequent attack, Trotter was the provider once again. On this occasion, the handler picked out Mulvaney with a sumptuous roll curve that made the sell-out crowd purr with admiration.
As the game progressed into its final stages, the game became more open. Tired passes by the Fish players were intercepted by McCarthy and De Leeuwe, while at the other end Mulvaney wasn’t able to hold on to a Colin Wan pass.
Pies continued to swing the disc from side to side to draw the Fish defence out of position, with Trotter again splitting the Lancaster defence with a superb lofted pass to find an unmarked McCarthy past the opposition’s goal line.
The crowd thought that Newcastle had scored again from the Lancaster pull, as Rudge was the target in the end zone. This time the receiver was unable to get a grip to a fast-paced Mussell-Webber throw.
After yet again intercepting a loose Fish pass, De Leeuwe set up the penultimate point of the game from the side line. Before the Lancaster defence had time to organise, Newcastle’s No.3 had sourced Charlie Huins to move Pies within one point of winning the match.
Although the neutrals were secretly hoping for a Lancaster comeback, it was probably for the best for Lancaster to be put out of their misery.
George Perry had the honour of wrapping up the game, nonchalantly latching onto a characteristically precise pass from Huins; an accurate personification of the match as a whole.
Before the Lancaster defence had time to organise, Newcastle’s No.3 had sourced Charlie Huins to move Pies within one point of winning the match
During the post-match debrief captain Eric Mussel-Webber apologised for the state of the pitch. Although this is typical of the comradery within the sport, from my perspective a wet, windy Wednesday afternoon in Heaton is the stage that separates the real winners from the pack.
What’s also impressive about this Newcastle side is the strength in depth within the squad. Jack Westerman, Jake Hawkyard and Fred Davies were on the side line supporting the team; just a snippet of the wealth of players available, and more than talented enough to step into the team.
As for the tournament, Newcastle now progress into the semi-final of the Northern Conference Cup. They’ll meet either Hull or Huddersfield, who have had their quarter-final clash postponed due to waterlogged pitches. However both Bangor and Sheffield Hallam were able to play and win their respective matches, and meet in the other semi-final on 2nd March in Wales.