Star Stephens makes sure for Sunderland

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SUNDERLAND Broom firsts climbed out of the North East League Premier Division drop zone after finally securing their first league win of the campaign.

The Ashbrooke outfit climbed to 10th place, leapfrogging Wilton firsts on goal difference after securing a 3-1 victory over the Teessiders at Sandhill View.

Both sides started well, but neither side was able to find an opening as defences dominated.

As the half wore on, Sunderland enjoyed the best possession, however Wilton always looked dangerous when they got men behind the home side’s midfielders, and they proved their determination when a midfielder got clear and crossed for Johnny Couhig to tap home.

Sunderland responded well to the setback, pressing hard for the equaliser which duly arrived from a penalty corner routine, with Matt Dench firing home.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Sunderland pressing and Wilton working hard on the break.

But the Wearsiders’ territorial dominance began to tell, with Duncan Stephens and Neale Holmes prominent, and they stormed ahead when, after another penalty corner, Chris Brown slammed home a fine strike.

Sunderland missed several chances to make the game safe, and were almost made to pay for their profligacy as Wilton had a goal disallowed. The hosts rediscovered their fire to go 3-1 up, though, with Stephens netting from close range. Couhig cut the deficit from a penalty corner three minutes from time, but Sunderland regained their composure to see the game out to pick up three precious points.

This Saturday, Sunderland are away to Newcastle University thirds.

They also host Keswick and West Lakes in a friendly on Sunday.

Sunderland seconds were beaten 7-2 at Durham City thirds to stay bottom in Intermediate 2. They entertain second-top Darlington firsts this Saturday

H Durham University maintained their title hunt in the Pensions England Hockey League’s Conference North, but only just, as they edged home 3-2 at lowly Deeside Ramblers.

Deeside, without a win going into the game, were ahead from the 11th minute when Ali Ghazanfar converted a penalty corner.

Durham were rattled and Bart Ryan-Beswick doubled the hosts’ lead on 48 minutes. Charlie Stubbings pulled one back, but the students entered the final 10 minutes heading for a shock first defeat. Matthew Murphy, though, came up trumps, levelling from a 62nd-minute penalty corner before firing a dramatic winner two minutes from time to ensure a seventh win in eight games for Hugh Robinson’s team.

This Saturday, fourth-placed Bowdon visit Maiden Castle (noon).

Durham’s seconds slipped to third bottom spot in the North League’s Premier Division with last week’s 5-3 loss to Whitley Bay and Tynemouth. Jonny Maunder’s side have a vital trip to second-bottom City of York on Saturday (1.30pm)