Keech hat-trick caps a diamond win

Cramlington Town Diamonds...3 Longhoughton Rangers...5

Northumberland Girls’ Football League, U15 League

TWO late goals from Keech and Morrison were enough to secure three points for Rangers in a thrilling encounter at Cramlington.

Rangers started the game brightly, Morrison going close and forcing a save from the Diamonds goalkeeper. From the resulting corner, Parry found Keech wide on the left and the pacey winger cut inside to hammer the ball across the face of goal into the top far corner (0-1).

Two minutes later and Rangers added a second, Keech’s left foot curling the ball into the top right corner after Longhoughton were awarded a free-kick 20 yards out for deliberate hand-ball (0-2).

Diamonds came back hard, pinning Longhoughton in their own half for the next 10 minutes, but the home side were unable to capitalise upon their possession following a series of amazing saves and last-ditch tackles from the resilient Rangers defence.

Morrison, Keech and Finney all came close to extending the visitors’ lead as the half progressed, with only the dynamics of the Cramlington goalkeeper preventing the Longhoughton side from increasing the score.

With half an hour gone, Morrison should have scored after running onto Davison’s deft pass, but the talismanic striker could only shoot straight at the Town goalkeeper under pressure.

The resulting goal-kick was intercepted by Keech who, turning provider, set up Morrison; the Longhoughton captain making no mistakes this time as she rifled the ball into the back of the Diamonds net (0-3).

Cramlington began the second half with a vengeance and only took a minute to pull a goal back, the Diamonds’ forward finding space between Wood and Lewington to fire past Burn in the Longhoughton goal (1-3).

Rangers almost replied immediately. Keech cut the ball back across the face of goal where Morrison and Davison conspired to get in each other’s way before Morrison poked the ball wide.

Diamonds made it 2-3 five minutes into the second half, the Cramlington winger unmarked on the right given time to pick her cross and finding an unmarked forward, who thumped the ball beyond the diving Burn.

Cramlington continued to pile on the pressure, forcing errors in the Longhoughton defence, and it came as no surprise when the burley Town forward pushed past weak challenges from Lewington and Parry to equalise for the home side in the 50th minute (3-3).

With the scores tied and Diamonds in the ascendency, Longhoughton were forced to defend deep, making a number of frantic blocks and clearances, but as Cramlington pushed forward searching for a winner they left themselves open at the back.

With 15 minutes left, Keech picked up the ball in her own half and, running the length of the pitch, beat three Cramlington players and side-footed past the Town keeper to restore Longhoughton’s lead and secure her hat-trick (3-4).

Cramlington kept pushing, seeking an equaliser, but with five minutes left, Morrison won the ball in midfield and laid it off to Lazenby, whose return pass found the Rangers captain on the edge of the penalty area. Morrison turned, beating the Diamonds centre-half, before placing her shot beyond the goalkeeper and securing all three points for Longhoughton (3-5).

Longhoughton Rangers FC: H Burn, C Wood, B Lewington, E Parry, E Davison, H Finney, J Morrison (c), R Keech, S Lazenby. Player-of-the-match: Keech. Manager’s player: Burn

LEAGUE SHIELD, SEMI-FINAL, U15 LEAGUE

Longhoughton Rangers FC...8 Blyth Town...1

Following three straight league defeats, Rangers returned to form against a weakened Blyth Town side to secure their place in the final for a second year in a row.

Longhoughton began the game well, spreading play from one flank to the next, with Finney, Morrison and Hutton all creating early chances but unable to beat the Blyth goalkeeper.

The opening goal, when it came, was a stunner, Keech winning the free-kick 25 yards out and then curling the ball beyond the outstretched arms of Hunter into the top corner to give the home side the lead (1-0).

Two minutes later and Rangers doubled their advantage, Morrison intercepting a poor goal-kick to hammer the ball past the Blyth goalkeeper (2-0).

Brennan threatened for the visitors, but the winger found herself shackled by the industrious Parry, the Rangers left-back limiting the Blyth player’s chances.

Keech added her second, Rangers’ third, on the quarter-hour mark, the pacey forward cutting inside from the left to slam home a powerful shot, before sealing her hat-trick five minutes later after good work by Hutton and Morrison on the right (4-0).

Dodds should have pulled a goal back for Town moments later, but the forward’s shot was saved by Burn in the Rangers goal.

Lewington, making her first start in over a month for the home side, spurned a number of early chances before opening her account for the season, the midfielder running from deep to side-foot past Hunter and extend the home side’s lead (5-0). Then, as if making up for lost time, Lewington bagged her second of the game, Keech the provider (6-0).

Blyth’s Ramsay forced another smart save from Burn as the half drew to a close, but the visitors’ chances were few.

Rangers started the second half brightly, Finney almost connecting to Morrison’s pacey cross before Keech powered home her fourth in the 51st minute extending the home side’s lead (7-0).

Rangers continued to defend well and Blyth were reduced to a few long shots, Ramsay and Brennan both shooting wide from distance.

Rangers continued to create chances, both Finney and Morrison spurning opportunities to add to the score line, then, with 15 minutes left, up popped Keech to make it 8-0 with a low shot across the face of goal that slammed into the far corner.

Ramsay pulled a goal back for the visitors with five minutes left, a long looping shot that left Burn little chance, but it was too little too late (8-1).

Longhoughton Rangers FC: H Burn, E Smart (E Lester 25), C Wood, E Parry (S Lazenby 50), J Morrison (c), C Hutton, B Lewington, R Keech, H Finney (E Davison 25). Player-of-the-match: Keech. Managers player-of-the-match: Parry.