County championship success for Northumberland

The Northumberland hockey squad who won the National County Competition.
The Northumberland hockey squad who won the National County Competition.

Northumberland hockey took the honours in the National County Competition for only the second time in their history.

The 18 man squad featured 14 members of Whitley Bay and Tynemouth Hockey Club, with two from Morpeth, one from North Shields and one from Leeds.

Traffic problems delayed their arrival and kicked off against Lancashire 13 minutes late, and it showed as they drew their opening game 4-4. They went on to win their remaining round-robin games 8-2 against Northamptonshire, 7-2 against Cheshire and 2-0 over Kent.

In a difficult game against Devon in the semi final, Northumberland got in behind their opponents via the aerial route, before taking control of the game in midfield.

They opened the scoring from a short corner routine, with Markus Bader finding the bottom corner of the goal.

Northumberland continued to press and an excellent long pass from captain James Redpath allowed Andrew Titmus to dribble into the D and score from an acute angle to give Northumberland a two goal advantage.

Both teams continued to push in the second half, but no real chances were created as Northumberland comfortably made their way into the final, where they faced Kent.

The game started very poorly for Northumberland with individual error combined with Kent starting very strongly meaning Kent went 2-0 up in the first five minutes.

Northumberland began to play at a better intensity allowing them to compete with the opposition.

In the 20th minute Northumberland forced a short corner thanks to good work from John Wood and Bader obliged with an excellent drag flick to reduce the arrears. Within 5 minutes the scores were level with Ritchie Brown scoring a goal from close range.

After half-time Kent pushed and took the advantage with a breakaway goal however within five minutes Northumberland responded from a short corner which was deflected into the net by Titmus.

Both teams pushed and the game started to open up, Northumberland keeper Blair Fotheringham making a number of important saves.

With ten minutes remaining Kent took the lead 4-3 with a breakaway goal.

Northumberland continued to push forcing another short corner which Bader despatched into the bottom left hand corner.

Then with five minutes remaining a great passing move from Northumberland ended with Titmus cutting inside into the opposition D from the right and passing the ball across the area to Alex Lockey who swept the ball high into the net to give Northumberland their first lead in the match.