Bedlington U9...1 Longhoughton U9...1
Pin Point Recruitment U9 League Division N
A ZAC Stephenson strike secured a point for Longhoughton U9s in a close-fought encounter against Bedlington.
Clad in their customary red and orange stripes Longhoughton initially out-passed their sky-blue-and-white-striped Bedlington counterparts. Stephenson collected the ball on the left-hand side of midfield before passing infield to Joseph Cormack.
Looking to his right, Cormack played in Gareth Rickaby, whose shot was well saved by the Bedlington goalkeeper.
Yet it wasn’t long before Niall Murtagh, Longhoughton’s goalkeeper, was called into action as he moved sharply to parry away a well-struck cross-shot from the Bedlington right.
Lewis Fairbairn and Jack Brooks exchanged a quick one-two before Fairbairn shot wide.
Then Cormack beat three Bedlington defenders before striking a shot that first hit the Bedlington crossbar before rolling along the top of the goal until eventually falling out of play.
Next, it was Rickaby’s turn to draw a save from the Bedlington keeper before Stephenson broke the deadlock for Longhoughton.
Receiving the ball on the Bedlington left he beat two defenders, ending with a one-on-one with the keeper before blasting the ball into the Bedlington net (0-1).
The second quarter started as the first one ended.
Thorsten Robinson almost making an instant impact on the match as, newly introduced, he struck a Fairbairn through-ball at goal.
The shot was well saved and the ball was immediately transferred to the other end of the pitch for Murtagh to make an equally vital save from a Bedlington forward.
Bedlington were pressing hard for an equaliser and Joe Archbold had to be at his most competitive best to thwart a Bedlington attack with a number of fine tackles.
Roan Brayson produced very good work on the Longhoughton left yet Bedlington were becoming the greater attacking force.
Now in the third quarter of the match, Bedlington scented an equaliser and with Longhoughton dwelling on the ball on the edge of their own penalty area, they pounced.
Successfully tackling a Longhoughton midfielder, a Bedlington midfielder then calmly struck a clean shot past the stranded Longhoughton goalkeeper (1-1).
In the final minutes of the third quarter, the game entered a potentially decisive period. First Murtagh saved well from a well struck Bedlington shot.
Then Rickaby had two opportunities to score yet the Bedlington defence proved too strong.
With the game stretched, the ball was lost in the Longhoughton midfield and a good pass found a Bedlington striker clear of the Longhoughton defence.
The Bedlington player struck a low shot to the left-hand corner of the goal but Murtagh parried it away.
Longhoughton cleared the ball and Rickaby outstripped the Bedlington defence to have an opportunity but it ended up in the side-netting.
Neither side had as good opportunities in the remainder of the match.
Cormack had a go followed by Archbold and Dover, but none succeeded.
In return, Bedlington had two corners right at the game’s death but they couldn’t find a winning goal either.
Both teams had given their best and absorbed the best of their adversary.
A draw was the right result for this breathless, gripping encounter.
How fitting that both sides meet at Westfield Park, Longhoughton, next Sunday. What will happen in Bedlington v Longhoughton: The sequel?