By – Sour
Last Saturday (12 February) the Knights travelled to York to take on a side that they’ve traditionally struggled against. The Minstermen halted the Novocastrians’ promotion push in 08-09 with a gritty, controlled win at their Heslington ground, and the Knights were in no mood to let that happen again this season.
A variously “totally-up-for-it” and half asleep squad of 14 rolled up to heslington between 1245 and 1320 with yet another two debutantes in tow. Pat Wheeldon was the day’s anchor between the pipes and Chris Suddaby made his debut in the midfield. Rounding out the squad were the usual defensive suspects Webbé, Ellwood, Warwick, Standiford and Davenport. Higginbottom, Stewart, Bryant and Woodrow rocked the midfield, along with Wheeldon (J), Webb and Ford who patrolled the attack zone.
The first quarter started with a bump. As Higginbottom dropped to his position opposite York’s Scotland face-off man Carl Matiland, only for the home ref to make a horrific mess of the face-off and skip the set call. Higginbottom then made an early play for the handbag as he proceeded to have a bit of a hissy fit and look with disbelief at anyone and everyone associated with the game. The head ref waved away complaint and following a fairly mild expletive Higg finally dropped back to do some defending.
There wasn’t very much anyone could do about the first York goal, or their second and third, as low to low shots from the outside from their former Sheffield attacker through a number of bodies did for Wheeldon in the goal. York scored first and the Newcastle equalised through Higginbottom who was found by Bryant on a slashing cut to finish well. York then pulled out to a 3-1 lead. Bryant, who spend most of the first quarter somewhere in between upright and on his face in the mud, kicked off a comeback with what has quickly become his trademark move, a righty sweep finished off with a zero angle shot. This brought it within one and by the end of the first quarter the Knights had come back to being 6-3 up in a run that included a debut goal for Suddaby.
York were understandably shell shocked at quarter time, but came back strongly dominating possession in the second, without really troubling the Knights goal. While the Knights were content to allow the Blues to possess the ball as they weren’t creating, a more pressure defensive scheme would have allowed the away team more chance to settle. As it was the only goal of the quarter for the Newcastle came from Wheeldon on the break after some lovely fast break ball movement.
Half time came with the score at 7-4. Words were said and looks exchanged, and everyone in the Silver huddle knew that this game was far from over. Again the old adage of something to do with third quarters came good as the Knights smashed out a 4-1 period to lead 11-5 going into the final stanza.
The final quarter continued in the same vein with the men in Silver jumping out to a 16-5 lead early in the quarter and then kept control of the game to the extent that I can’t really remember what happened in the last 10 minutes, other than some lovely possession shots and some tidy ball control.
Despite the desire to not eff up the promotion push, this was a game where the Geordies barely made it out of third gear. They allowed York to control the ball for long periods of time and were dominated at the face-off by Maitland, but despite this only trailed in the first quarter and never actually looked like losing.
It was refreshing to see Newcastle capitalising on their extra man and fast break opportunities for what seemed like the first time this season. Carrying on that form will be one of the major points to take from this game.
There may have been no Allman Brothers, no Clarkson, no Tiff Needell, or even Jason Plato, but what there was on show, was a display that was pragmatic, and clinical. I doubt there were more than 30 shots from the Knights – but the ones they did take were generally high percentage and resulted in some nicely worked goals, and some excellent 4th quarter possession.
All in all it was good to get such a convincing result where most of the team didn’t feel as if they got into the game. In seasons past this type of contest would have been a banana skin, but this time it was successfully negotiated showing the maturity and confidence that the Newcastle side now possess.
M: Wheeldon J
Wheeldon J 6G
Webb M 2G
Season Scorers to date
Andy Ford 23
John Wheeldon 22
Mark Webb 15
Nick Lacey 12
Kyle Standiford 8
Dave Bryant 6
Andy Higginbottom 5
Pete Happanel 2
Robin Webb 2
Chris Suddaby 2
Steve Warwick 1
Sam Ridgeway 1
Liam Thomas 1
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