Tyne test of flying firsts’ mettle

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SUNDERLAND firsts face a crunch showdown with table-topping Gateshead in the North League’s Second Division East on Saturday (1.30pm).

Matt Dench’s side will go into the short trip north in good spirits after outgunning Doncaster seconds 6-3 to climb into third place – five points behind Gateshead.

Man of the match Duncan Stevens gave Sunderland the ideal start, taking possession and storming past two defenders to fire into the bottom corner. Skipper Dench then crossed for Nick Campbell to emphasise the hosts’ dominance with a second goal.

Doncaster, though, stunned Sunderland by striking twice on the counter-attack to level matters.

Sunderland had thrown away a lead against Lincoln Roses the previous week, but Dench soon had the Wearsiders back in charge, looping a clever reverse flick shot over the keeper. Donny fought back again, though, beating keeper Andy Wilkinson at the second attempt, after a fine stop from the initial shot.

But Sunderland regained the initiative and never let it go. Ali Campbell produced a strong surge from midfield and committed the keeper before slipping the ball for Dench to finish for 4-3. Ali Campbell got on the scoresheet himself soon after, following Andy Brown’s astute pass.

Nick Campbell’s second goal of the game completed the scoring at six, capping an impressive display from the brothers.

The firsts have been drawn away to unbeaten North League First Division club Alderley Edge in the national EH Trophy on Sunday, November 20 (12.45pm).

Bottom club Sunderland seconds slipped to a 7-1 defeat at Newcastle Medics in the North East League Premier Division and are still chasing a first win of the campaign. This Saturday, they welcome Newcastle University seconds to the Raich Carter Centre.

Sunderland thirds lost 4-0 to North Shields seconds in the North East League’s Intermediate 2, but hope to improve in Saturday’s home clash with Stockton fourths.

The fourths, whose match last week was postponed, visit North Shields thirds on Saturday.

H Durham University cruised to a 4-1 success at home to lowly Deesside Ramblers in the England Hockey League’s Conference North,.

Penalty corners from Daniel Coultas and Tony Wilson had Durham two up by half-time, and Coultas added a third on 44 minutes.

Ali Ghazanfar pulled one back from a penalty corner, but Sam Driver completed the scoring with Durham’s fourth in the final minute.

The students remain two points behind leaders Sheffield Hallam going into this Saturday’s trip to Doncaster (2pm).

Sunderland II (home to Newcastle University II, meet 1pm, start 1.45): R Whitham, S Crute, A Crute, S Middleton, J Argile, C Vaughan, P Renshaw, J Harris, N Holmes, C Richardson, D Brent, J Scott, T Miller, T Brown, I McGinley

Sunderland III (home to Stockton IV, meet 2.30, start 3.15): G Olsen, S Liddle, M Brown, T Barber, E Matters, S Douglas, N Plunkett, J Bibby, T Brown, J Argile, I McGinley, R Wilson, T Miller.