Spirited display pushes students all the way

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SUNDERLAND Broom firsts produced another impressive, fighting display only to lose 2-1 in a close-fought derby at Durham University fourths.

Sunderland, bottom of the North East League’s Premier Division, struggled to cope with the students’ movement and the water-based Maiden Castle pitch in the early stages.

However, Durham failed to capitalise on their dominance as Sunderland defended manfully.

The students finally made the breakthrough, netting from a penalty corner routine after a poor Sunderland tackle.

Sunderland, though, reacted well to the setback and should have equalised soon after when Andy Brown did well on the flank and squared the ball across the face of goal, but the eventual shot was fired wide, with the goal gaping.

Broom had the better of the early stages in the second half, but, crucially, they failed to make the most of a series of penalty corners.

Robust challenges all over the park made the game stop-start, and another mistimed tackle cost Sunderland dear as the students converted another penalty corner for a 2-0 lead.

Broom kept battling and were rewarded when Matt Dench netted from close range, following a penalty corner.

Sunderland had chances to level, but Durham, relying on the counter-attack in the closing minutes, held on to secure their third win in six games.

This Saturday, Sunderland will hope to secure a first win of the season when they welcome fourth-bottom Wilton to Sandhill View.

H Durham University firsts return to action after a week off in the Pensions England Hockey League’s Conference North on Sunday. The table-topping students are away to second-bottom Deeside Ramblers (1.30pm).

H In the Investec Women’s League Conference North, Durham University firsts host Wakefield in a battle of the top two at Maiden Castle on Saturday (noon). Durham lead their Yorkshire visitors by two points.

H Sunderland Broom are bottom of the North Women’s League Division Two North East after succumbing to a fourth successive defeat, 9-0 away to Durham University thirds.

 Steph Edmundson’s side face mid-table Newcastle University seconds at Sandhill View on Saturday (noon).