Following a whitewash of Durham 3rds last week, Newcastle 2nds were looking for another successful night in the pool against new team Northumbria 2nds.
This was Northumbria 2nds first ever BUCS game, after their introduction to the BUCS leagues this season, so it was impossible to predict what sort of form they would be in. Having beaten Northumbria 1s last season, Newcastle were feeling confident about their chances.
However, from the off it was clear that this would be a very equally matched game, with Newcastle’s Charlotte Duff winning the swim off, only for Northumbria’s Lauren Hall to steal the ball seconds later.
Both teams worked the ball up and down the pool a couple of times without success, following multiple saves from both keepers. After a shot from Duff, the ball finally saw the back off the net, but was disallowed due to an incorrectly taken foul, much to the annoyance of the strong presence of Newcastle fans.
Not one to give up, Duff managed to steal the ball back, but her next shot made into the hands of Georgie Hogg between the Northumbria posts. This gave Northumbria the chance to work the ball up the pool to Kathryn Buchanan, but her shot was easily saved by the Newcastle keeper Holly Jackson.
The next few minutes saw some incredible defensive work for Newcastle, preventing several Northumbria advances on the Newcastle goal
The next few minutes saw some incredible defensive work from Newcastle, preventing several Northumbria advances on the Newcastle goal. A clear chance for Northumbria came when Newcastle captain Lucy Aubrook gave away a major foul, giving Northumbria a 20-second period with one more player. Fortunately for Newcastle, Northumbria wasted the chance with a lacklustre attempt on goal, which was picked up with ease by Jackson.
Next came Newcastle’s chance to capitalise on a major foul from Northumbria’s Holly Denton, leaving the red and white-clad Newcastle girls a man up. The girls worked the ball round well, directed by interim coach Sarah Poyntz, feeding it to Mollie Smith who’s shot was saved by Hogg, ending the first quarter goalless.
The second quarter brought some excitement to the pool. Duff once again effortlessly won the swim off, to give Newcastle the first attack of the quarter. The girls worked the ball up the pool, but couldn’t capitalise as once again Hogg found her hands on the ball.
Northumbria’s Amelia Lowry wasted no time in the following passage of play, counter attacking up the pool to place the ball in the back of Newcastle’s net, putting Northumbria 1-0 up.
However, the Newcastle girls didn’t let this phase them, and quickly equalised following a brilliant swim from Helen Murray, who launched the ball into the top right-hand corner of Northumbria’s goal.
Northumbria continued to play a strong attacking game, but Jackson saved shot after shot, including a one-on-one with Northumbria’s Catherine Young. Following a great pass from Haleigh Blair, a strong defence from Northumbria saw a further attempt from Murray impeded, as the quarter ended 1-1.
Duff won her third swim off of the game, but the ball was immediately given back to Northumbria after a foul. Duff, again showing her resilience, immediately stole the ball back and drove straight through the Northumbria defence. Her shot on goal was impeded by the Northumbria defender, but she was unable to reach the back of the net with her second effort.
Hogg subsequently sent the ball flying up the pool to Northumbria’s Lauren Hall, who escaped the Newcastle defence to find herself one on one with Jackson. But the calm-headed Jackson, expertly saved the attempt from Hall just before it crossed the line. Despite the appeals from the Northumbria fans, referee Carl Watson simply shook his head and play continued.
Having been picked out by Jackson, Duff swam the ball up to the Northumbria 2m line, where two Northumbria defenders descended on her.
She stayed calm and flicked the ball to the unmarked Murray by the Northumbria goal. She easily pinged it in to bring Newcastle ahead 2-1, just as the buzzer sounded to mark the end of the penultimate quarter.
An exhausted Duff won the fourth and final swim off of the game, but Newcastle’s first attack of the game was unsuccessful as Hogg made another save. Newcastle’s Smith gave away a major foul for swimming on the back of her opposition, giving Northumbria another 20-second man up.
Coach Neil Bowers instructed the Northumbria girls in black and red to set up a 4-2 formation. The ball worked its way round the arc to find Lowry, who placed the ball past Jackson, drawing the score level to 2-2.
Newcastle once again responded with a quick goal, starting with a fantastic drive from Murray, who effortlessly smashed the ball into the Northumbria goal, securing her first hat-trick of the season, once again putting Newcastle ahead.
The delight was clearly displayed across her face, as Newcastle were surely safe at 4-2 with less than a minute on the clock
With the clock ticking down, the Newcastle girls looked to increase their lead and secure the victory. The highlight of the game came from Newcastle’s Neve Walsh, who found herself unmarked in front on Northumbria’s goal, following a brilliant swim.
Receiving the ball from Duff, Walsh dispatched it without hesitation past Hogg to score on her NUWPC debut. The delight was clearly displayed across her face, as Newcastle were surely safe at 4-2 with less than a minute on the clock.
However, Northumbria didn’t plan on going down without a fight, and won a penalty after Jackson was pushed into the goal-post. Reflective of the inexperience of this new Northumbria team, Lowry incorrectly took the penalty, and the ball was given to Jackson.
In the dying seconds, Duff sprinted the length of the pool for a final time, but was unable to get the goal she deserved.
Nonetheless Duff was the Player of the Match, and was deservedly awarded MVP by captain Aubrook. Could a promotion to the firsts be on the cards?
This Newcastle team face a further two games this week against top of the table Durham 2s, and Leeds Beckett, following some questionable organisation from Club President Megan Lord. But following two convincing wins, the girls could potentially be heading for a successful week.