Set-pieces unlock Longhoughton’s defence

U9 PINPOINT JUNIOR LEAGUE

Cramlington Juniors...5 Longhoughton...1

CRAMLINGTON made the most of set-piece opportunities to defeat a spirited Longhoughton side in this league fixture.

Played in a fierce cross-wind, Cramlington were the quicker to settle and Longhoughton were forced to defend for large parts of the opening quarter.

Niall Murtagh, the Longhoughton goalkeeper, reacted well to keep his side on level terms. First he dived to his right to parry a well-struck Cramlington shot and then quickly recovered to palm the follow-up around the post.

He was ably assisted in defence by Joe Archbold, who quickly became the defensive pivot on which Longhoughton could make some attacking incisions into the Cramlington half.

Longhoughton manufactured a shooting opportunity after a barnstorming run by Archbold but Joseph Cormack shot just wide.

The quarter finished with neither defence being breached yet this was due to a great point-blank save on the Longhoughton goal-line.

Cramlington must have thought they’d scored but the side-foot finish from a driven cross was somehow stopped by Murtagh.

The second quarter saw Cramlington applying further pressure on the Longhoughton goal.

Jack Brooks and Archbold combined to snuff out the initial Cramlington attack but this was the first of many incisions into Longhoughton territory. Archbold was outstanding in rebuffing them but the pressure was building.

Murtagh had to move smartly to save a Cramlington Juniors’ well-hit long shot but eventually the Longhoughton defence gave way. A second Cramlington corner in as many minutes saw the ball smashed home from three yards out (1-0).

The third quarter was tightly contested.

Alex Threlfall broke up Cramlington attacks to then start Longhoughton ones,.

Longhoughton were growing in confidence and fittingly their momentum peaked with a classic, equalising goal. First Thorsten Robinson controlled a Zac Stephenson throw before returning the ball to Stephenson wide on the right. He beat his marking defender before knocking in a great cross. The ball fell to Roan Brayson who, after a crafty blindside run into space, crashed the ball past the Cramlington keeper (1-1).

The hard-earned parity could only be enjoyed for seconds. A Cramlington midfielder on the left side was given too much space to run and then cross into the Longhoughton area.

The ball, holding up on the wind, evaded keeper and defenders yet the Cramlington attacker could only nudge it goalward. Four players slid to connect with the ball and in the resulting melee it was decreed that the whole of the ball had crossed the line (2-1).

The game ended with Cramlington gaining a measure of supremacy from the set-piece.

First a free-kick was thumped into the Longhoughton area and the ball, after the first bounce, ended up in the Longhoughton net, (3-1).

Then, despite strong runs by Gareth Rickaby, one of which resulted in a pass to a body-checked Lewis Fairbairn that could have earned a Longhoughton penalty, Cramlington’s performance became more assured.

The fourth Cramlington goal came from a well-struck corner, the finish well applied on the near post (4-1) and the fifth and final Cramlington goal came from another corner, (5-1).

So Cramlington won with four goals from set-pieces.