Men’s hockey: Heartening display for Sunderland firsts

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SUNDERLAND Broom firsts can take great heart from a battling display against table-topping North Shields firsts in the North East League’s Premier Division.

Despite the wet conditions, Sunderland produced plenty of impressive hockey to make life tough for their visitors, although they succumbed 5-2 to stay second bottom in the table, with just one point from six games.

Sunderland looked particularly dangerous up front early on, with returning player Andrew Wilkinson leading the line well.

As the first half wore on, North Shields began to gain territorial advantage, but Sunderland’s defence held firm to deny them scoring opportunities.

Sunderland had chances of their own on the counter-attack, but North Shields made the breakthrough, scoring from a loose ball in the home box.

Sunderland pushed hard for an equaliser, but North Shields defended well and then broke clinically to double their advantage.

North Shields were reduced to 10 men when Andy Brown was fouled when he got through on the goalkeeper, but a goal back eluded them before half-time.

On the restart, Sunderland went close several times without finding the net as they tried to capitalise on their man advantage, but Chris Brown finally got them on the scoresheet, ironically after the visitors were back to full strength, converting a penalty corner.

Two individual errors let North Shields in twice to storm 4-1 ahead, but the Wearsiders stayed in touch when Matt Dench finished off another penalty corner routine.

North Shields, though, had the last word, netting again on the counter-attack to make it six wins out of six.

This Saturday, Sunderland visit Durham University fourths.

In Intermediate 2, Sunderland seconds, outgunned 3-0 at Stockton fourths last weekend, are at home to Newcastle Medics seconds.

* Durham University firsts outgunned Belper 4-1 to maintain their superb form in the Pensions England League’s Conference North.

Jack Curd, Mark Galloway and Sam Driver were all among the goals to sink the Derbyshire side, though Hugh Robinson’s team have a week off and return to action a week on Sunday away to winless Deeside Ramblers.

The students are top of the table with six victories and a draw in their seven matches, to lie a point clear of Brooklands Manchester University firsts.

Durham’s seconds, still seeking a first win of the campaign in the North League’s Premier Division, are in action on Saturday when they visit bottom club Gateshead (1.30pm).

Jonny Maunder’s side have drawn three in a row, including last week’s 3-3 showdown with Leeds Gryphons, and have only City of York and Gateshead below them in the table.