Sat 23 Sep 2023  ·  North East Women's Division 1
Sunderland Hockey Club
Darlington 1
Sunderland 3-5 Darlington

Sunderland 3-5 Darlington

Matthew Sharp25 Sep 2023 - 19:51
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Defeat on first home outing.

Entertaining, exciting, competitive would be the words to describe the Sunderland Ladies v Darlington Ladies hockey match, played on Saturday 23 September at the Raich Carter Sports Centre in Sunderland. From the Sunderland perspective it was also frustrating that conceding a goal in the last minute of the first half and two goals in the last two minutes of the game deprived the home team of a deserved draw.

Darlington set the tone for the whole match with an opening salvo of attacking hockey. Sunderland’s defence, marshalled by the ever dependable Kirsty Tate, supported by Ell Wheeler, Jade Darrington, Daisy Davidson, Mel Thirtle and Gabriella Marku, was able to thwart the onslaught. Somewhat against the run of play Sunderland showed their predatory instincts with a lightening break involving precise midfield passes from Roz Middleton and Jade Darrington to release Sunderland’s goal machine Sophie Laidler who made no mistake with a great strike into the far corner.

Gradually Sunderland began to look the more dominant team with Stephanie Hudson, Jade Darrington and Roz Middleton driving the team forwards from midfield, but the vital second goal never materialised. On the stroke of half time Darlington equalised leaving Sunderland to rue a series of missed opportunities to take a stranglehold on the game.

The second half was a bruising, fast flowing encounter which Darlington began dominate in winning the 50/50 tackles. Sunderland’s youngsters Isabella Shields, Martha Hewitt, Rebecca Culbert, Megan Howford, Daisy Davidson and Gabriella Marku with newcomer Claire Henderson stood firm with goalie Louise Burton making some vital saves. Intense pressure saw Darlington take the lead and it looked as if a tiring Sunderland might crumble. However the experience of Sophie Laidler, Kirsty Tate, Stephanie Hudson and Jade Darrington saw them weather the storm and a lovely short corner routine, a precise pass from Roz Middleton and a great finish from Megan Howford levelled the score.

Revitalised Sunderland now took the game to Darlington and it came as a shock when a breakaway led to the 3rd Darlington goal. With the game slipping away it took a class finish from Sophie Laidler to level the scores. Unfortunately the last 3 minutes saw Sunderland hemmed in and unable to move the ball deep or wide. Intense Darlington pressure brought them two late goals, leaving Sunderland to rue a lack of composure in their game management of the hectic closing moments of the match.

The team were missing there captain Laura Middleton but step in co-captains Roz Middleton and Kirsty Tate were pleased with the commitment, energy and skill of the team. “We have an excellent squad mix of experienced and younger players who are enjoying their hockey. New players of any age or experience are welcome to come along to training on a Tuesday evening 6:45-8:15pm. We also have a thriving junior section with a team of expert coaches training on Tuesday evenings 6-7pm and Saturday mornings 9:30-10:30am at the Raich Carter centre.

“I must also thank our coach James Proctor who has proved invaluable on the touchline with his tactical substitutions and astute knowledge of the game. Finally, you cannot have a great game of hockey without expert umpiring and we are fortunate in Sunderland that Saturday’s game was overseen in expert fashion by our own Mike Dixon and David Crewe”
Next game 30th September – away v Whitby. Meet in Whitby 10.15

Match details

Match date

Sat 23 Sep 2023




North East Women's Division 1

League position

Darlington 1
Team overview
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