Seconds show fight for relegation run-in

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SUNDERLAND Broom seconds gave themselves a massive boost for their end-of-season run-in by securing a stirring 3-2 win at Hartlepool Caledonians.

The Ashbrooke side, bottom of the North East League’s Intermediate 1 with four matches to go, rocked Hartlepool in a brilliant, end to end showdown.

On-song striker Andy Wilkinson had an excellent game, led the line up front, with Neil Holmes providing great support from midfield, while keeper Nemo produced a series of outstanding late saves to ensure the victory. Tom Grant, Steve Crute and Jim Gardner battled well in defence.

The previous day, the seconds went down 4-1 to Newcastle University thirds, who outclassed the home side in the first half, going 3-0 up before Sunderland produced a much-improved second-half display, with Neil Holmes and Andy Scollen working impressively.

Andy Wilkinson notched for Sunderland with a fantastic individual strike, beating two players in the circle and clinically flicking the ball just inside the post.

With four games to go, Broom are four points behind Newcastle Medics seconds, albeit with a game in hand, and nine adrift of Hartlepool Caledonians, who only have two matches to play.

The seconds have another double header this weekend, away to Gateshead seconds on Saturday (noon) and away to Durham City seconds on Sunday (1.30pm).

Sunderland firsts succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at home to high-flying Sheffield University Bankers and sit second bottom in the North League Division Two East with two games in hand.

Andy Gayner’s side – two points above Leeds Adel Carnegie and three points adrift of safety – have no match this week or next, but return away to fourth-placed Chapeltown on April 6 before finishing off with what could be a six-pointer relegation decider against third-bottom Marton Furness at Sandhill View on April 13.

H Durham University firsts wrap up their England Hockey League Conference North campaign with a trip to second-top Sheffield Hallam on Sunday (2pm).

The students, guaranteed to finish third, ended their home programme with a 3-1 Maiden Castle success against Belper, with Tony Wilson’s double and a late Alex Czerniewski strike proving decisive.

Durham’s game will be a title decider as Hallam, with a game in hand on Saturday, trail leaders Bowdon by two points.

Durham’s seconds, set for a mid-table finish in the North League Premier Division, end their season away to runners-up Oxton on Saturday (noon).