Very rarely are a group of 16 lads (predominantly from the Home Counties) filled with a sense excitement rather than dread when told “you’re going to Glasgow”, but with the first round of the cup upon them, this was one of those days.
Both teams started with a fire and determination matched only by The Governess’ efforts in the Tuesday night ‘I’m a Celeb’ bush-tucker trial. However much like her heartbreaking 2 star haul, Newcastle faced the heartbreak of watching the ball hit their own backboard within the first 5 minutes of play. With Newcastle still reeling from the early goal, Strathclyde appeared to have the upper hand, winning two short corners in quick succession with ambition to extend their lead.
However, President/Keeper/Weight watchers success story Tim Finnerty had other ideas as he expertly saved everything the Glaswegians threw at him. After the initial upset, Newcastle shook the journey out of their legs and started playing something that resembled good hockey, a slick piece of link-up play between the midfield unit led to P Cochrane sending a crash ball across the face of the goal, missing Fresher Adam Beese’s stick by a hair.
The rest of the first half epitomised the phrase ‘end to end’ with both sides narrowly missing their chances at goal. Towards the end of the half a questionable decision from an umpire with a suspiciously Scottish accent granted Strathclyde another short corner, which Finnerty saw off with ease to end the second half 1-0 to Strathclyde. Newcastle were going to have to come from behind to secure the win, a prospect that both excited and worried the boys in equal measure.
After a half-time team talk from Captain Dodd-Moore that was as inspiring as it was explicit, Newcastle walked out onto the pitch eager to right the wrongs of the first half. As the starting whistle blew, it was almost as if a completely different team had arrived, the next ten minutes of Hockey that followed could only be described as inspirational. Centre backs S McTaggart and B Cowlard appeared to share a brain as the ball pinged between them, to the midfield, to the forwards smoother than a pile of silk on Luther Vandross’ lap, culminating in a short corner for Newcastle. After the routine fell apart, Belgian international and envy of the locker room Nathan Bataille flew to the rescue and buried the ball in the back of the goal. Newcastle equalise, the Glaswegian crowd hushes.
As the clock ticked on Newcastle continued their attack. Determined to remedy their missed opportunity from the first half, Cochrane and Beese linked up once again, this time Beese connected and the ball deflected into the goal, the Scots didn’t know what hit them. 2-1. As the pungent smell of haggis and frowns grew stronger and stronger, it was clear the Strathclyde crowd was growing in number and provided the home side with a morale boost that carried them into the D to sink their second goal and bring the score back to level. But fearful that the game was going to end in a draw, the umpire decided to spice things up a bit and grant Strathclyde a penalty flick, a decision that appeared to confuse even their own players.
T Finnerty has been no stranger to penalty flicks this season and as Strathclyde’s rumoured Great Britain player stepped up to the spot, Newcastle were convinced this would be another in the ‘concede pile’. But like the big game player that he is T Finnerty saved the flick and kept the score level, Newcastle’s two-man sideline support go wild. The scores remained level heading into the last 10 minutes, you could cut the tension with a spoon it was so tight.
But suddenly that winds changed and Strathclyde ended up firing one in to be saved by Finnerty, but the plucky Scots were first to the rebound and put the ball over the line with 10 minutes to go. The opposition celebrated like they had just won the super-bowl, but Newcastle remained composed, shifted the ball in and out of the centre and up the line not giving Strathclyde so much as a sniff at possession as the D was penetrated and a short corner was won. Captain Dodd-Moore lined up at the top, and to everyone’s surprise scored his first drag-flick of the season bringing the score to 3-3 with mere minutes left to play.
You could see the realisation sweep across the faces of Newcastle as they thought “if Dodd-Moore can score a drag-flick then anything is possible” with this inspiring morale boost in the back pocket of Fresher James Burwell, he turned on the gas and found himself in front of goal, only to be brutally taken out by the Strathclyde keeper. Even umpires as suspiciously Scottish as the ones holding the whistle that night couldn’t ignore the clear foul that just occurred and Newcastle were granted the penalty flick. Strathclyde already missed their opportunity with the flick, and questions were asked as to whether Newcastle could hold their nerve and snatch the victory. P Cochrane steps to the plate and expertly slots the ball in the side netting, silencing the Glaswegian crowd once again and putting Newcastle one up in this seven goal thriller. The final few seconds trickle off the clock and Newcastle warmly welcome the feeling of victory once again as they advance to the next round.