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Men's 2's - Newcastle University 3's (A) - 1-4 (L)

Date: Saturday 14th October 2023, 10:00

MOM: C Baptist

Goals: P Molyneux

Stokesley 2's embarked on a challenging away fixture this week against the formidable Newcastle University 3's, a team that had netted an impressive 29 goals in their last three matches. While the final scoreline may reflect a defeat for the visiting side, there were numerous positive takeaways from this hard-fought encounter.

Stokesley entered the match with a strategic plan to catch Newcastle on the break, and this tactic bore fruit around the 10-minute mark. The reformed midfield partnership of Matthew, Latham, Craig Baptist, and Scott Middlemiss demonstrated synergy right from the outset. The breakthrough came when Gav, initiating play from the defence, released Latham, who skilfully navigated past his marker, sprinted down the flank, and located Phil Molyneux unmarked at the top of the D. Molyneux's expertly executed finish, using his reverse stick, left the goalkeeper with no chance.

Newcastle responded with relentless pressure, but Stokesley's defensive trio of Dan Walker, George, and Gavin Coates stood resolute in the face of the onslaught. Adam Morris, stationed at right back, produced a string of impeccable tackles. Although Newcastle's pressure was substantial, Stokesley managed to frustrate the home team and hold them at bay. However, after 25 minutes, Newcastle earned a short corner, which they clinically converted with a drag-flick to equalize. The barrage continued, and their next short corner resulted in another goal, with an unusual effort that slipped through the legs of the typically exceptional Matt Hibbert. Stokesley found themselves trailing 2-1 at halftime.

The second half saw Newcastle maintain their offensive onslaught, but Stokesley's brilliant defending and cohesive team effort kept the home team's attacks in check. Stokesley managed to earn their first and only short corner of the day when none of their designated short corner specialists were on the field.

With approximately 15 minutes remaining, Newcastle extended their lead with a low shot into the bottom corner from another short corner. They sealed the victory with a late goal from open play, which appeared spectacular from a distance but perhaps a bit fortuitous upon closer inspection.

Surprisingly, despite the 4-1 defeat, the match showcased many positives. Every member of the team put in a commendable performance, as evidenced by the fact that eight different players received nominations for the man of the match award.

A special mention goes to Rafa Shaw, who made his first competitive appearance for the second team this season, and it was possibly his debut overall. The younger members of the squad, including Dan Walker, Harry Bell, and Benji Gate, showed great promise, even if Benji missed out on his sausage sandwich.

Next week marks the second installment of a challenging three-game stretch, but with a display like today's, this young Stokesley team is poised to earn more points than they lose.

Next game: Stockton 2's Home (Saturday 21st October 2023, 10:15 push back)

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