Blake proves difference between sides

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NORTHUMBERLAND GIRLS’ U14 FOOTBALL LEAGUE – Longhoughton Rangers FC...2 Morpeth SC...4

TWO late goals by the visitors secured a win for Morpeth against a valiant Rangers side missing key players in this thrilling local derby.

Morpeth started the stronger of the two teams and opened the scoring through their midfield maestro Blake, a powerful strike from 30 yards that fizzed into the Rangers goal with Burn rooted to the spot (0-1).

Morpeth, who physically dominated the midfield, thought they had scored a second through McLean minutes later, but the goal was disallowed for a foul on the Rangers goalkeeper.

Longhoughton, missing their hat-trick heroines from last week, found themselves pinned back in their own half as Morpeth continued to pile on the pressure.

Everything Morpeth did seemed to go through the talented Blake, a new signing for the Morpeth club, and it was no surprise when the midfielder extended the visitors’ lead with a curling 20-yard shot after Rangers had failed to close the player down (0-2).

Rangers had won the corresponding fixture in some style earlier in the season, with the mercurial Keech netting five times, and it was Keech again who provided an outlet for the under-pressure home side.

Her darting run down the left-wing drew the Morpeth defence, leaving space for Finney to exploit, but the forward was unable to connect with Keech’s cross.

Morpeth continued to press and but for the hard work of Wood and Lewington, Longhoughton would have been four or five goals down by the break, both defenders throwing everything in front of the Morpeth attack.

As the half drew to a close, Keech provided Rangers with a boost. The winger combined well with Hutton, before shooting low into the far corner beyond the Morpeth goalkeeper (1-2).

Rangers began the second half enjoying greater possession and threatening the Morpeth goal.

In left-back Parry, the Longhoughton side have found their own Rory Delap whose long-range throw-ins caused problems for the Morpeth defence all game.

Four minutes into the second half, Parry launched a ball into the area. Keech flicked it on and substitute Davison was unlucky to see her effort smothered by the goalkeeper.

Morpeth’s Blake threatened every time she collected the ball, but defensive midfielder Hutton, given the job of marking the player, stuck to her task well, limiting the midfielder to a few long-range efforts.

The 40th minute saw one such effort force a wonderful save from Ranger’s Burn, who then thumped the ball upfield for Keech. The forward took the ball well, breaking three challenges before hammering the ball into the back of the Morpeth goal, equalising for the home side (2-2).

Keech could have had a hat-trick, but for the dynamic Morpeth goalkeeper who bravely saved at the forward’s feet. With 10 minutes left, the game could have gone either way, but with Ranger’s Hutton withdrawn, Blake was freed up and the midfielder wasted no time in making her presence felt.

A mistake by Longhoughton saw Blake pick up the ball and turn unopposed to drive a long-range strike beyond the diving Burn for her hat-trick (2-3).

Five minutes later and Blake netted again, once more Rangers failed to close down the prolific midfielder, giving the tall powerful player room to smash home her fourth and secure all three points for the visitors (2-4).

It was a thrilling game, and both sides showed they were capable of playing some lovely football, but in Blake, Morpeth clearly had a match winner. Next up is Newcastle East End away.

Longhoughton: H Burn, C Wood, B Lewington, E Parry (E Lester 40) R Keech, H Parker (S Lazenby 40), C Hutton, E Smart, H Finney (E Davison 30). Players-of-the-match: Keech (Longhoughton); Blake (Morpeth).