SUNDERLAND Broom firsts are off the mark at last in the North East Premier League.
The Ashbrooke club secured a battling draw away to unbeaten Stokesley after suffering four successive defeats to open the season.
The returns of Chris and Andy Brown boosted confidence pre-match, although Stokesley had the better of the early play.
Sunderland’s defence stayed strong, though, denying the home side until a lapse in concentration and a deflected strike finally made the breakthrough.
Sunderland, though, were spurred on by the setback and they were much better in the second half, creating several opportunities from penalty corners before hauling themselves level when Ed Winship fed Matt Dench, who set up Sam Evans to coolly slot home.
Despite having two men sin-binned, Sunderland defended brilliantly in the closing stages, with keeper Nemo making a key save and injuring himself in the process.
Sunderland enjoyed a double boost as they secured a tremendous 8-6 win at Kendal in the Vase last Sunday.
Sunderland will now look for a first league win of the campaign when they entertain North Shields on Saturday, but the table-topping visitors are sure to provide a huge test of the Wearsiders’ new-found confidence.
In Intermediate 2, Sunderland seconds broke their duck with a 2-0 victory over Stokesley seconds and this weekend visit Stockton fourths (3pm).
H Durham University dropped their first points of the season when Warwickshire visitors Khalsa forced a 3-3 draw at Maiden Castle in the Pensions England Hockey League’s Conference North.
Johnny Maunder’s penalty corner strike had the students on top, but Anit Chudasama soon levelled. Adam Miller and Sam Driver then looked to have sealed victory by the 37th minute, but Khalsa netted twice in the final 10 minutes, through Jack Wells and David Harris, to rescue a point.
Durham are at home to lowly Belper on Saturday (2pm).