Sport | Hockey – All still to play for in second leg as Leeds concede late equaliser to Newcastle

A late equaliser for visitors Newcastle cancelled out Cath Scorey’s first half goal for Leeds to set up a fascinating second leg next week. This is the first year BUCs have introduced a play-off system, Leeds need to win in order to stay in the Northern Premier, if they lose, Newcastle will be promoted in their place. Therefore with so much at stake, it was unsurprising that the match was a cagey and tense affair.

Chances were few and far between in the first half as neither team could maintain any meaningful possession. Both teams were sizing each other up, not wanting to gamble or make any costly mistakes. On a slippery pitch, Newcastle enjoyed the greater share of territory as the Leeds defence had to be aware of the threat the left-winger posed. The Gryphons were given a warning after the winger was left one-on-one with the keeper who rushed out to smother her shot impressively.

This close call seemed to stir Leeds into action as they began to demonstrate their quality; the midfield started to dominate possession, creating a number of half chances that went narrowly wide. Eventually the pressure took its toll just before half-time as Cath Scorey opened the scoring with a powerful shot from just inside the D following a good passing move. In a very tight and even game Leeds led 1-0 at the break.

The second half continued much in the same vein, with little to separate the two teams. Buoyed by their goal Leeds grew in confidence and really should have capitalised on the few chances they had to take a decisive lead into the return fixture. A goal-mouth scramble from a short corner somehow failed to go in, with the Newcastle sweeper and captain in particular leading by example in putting some terrific blocks in.

Having weathered this storm, Newcastle edged their way back into the match and their efforts were rewarded late on as they equalised through a fierce shot from close range. All in all a draw was the fairest result, Leeds were slightly the better team but a result Newcastle will undoubtedly be happy to take home. There is everything to play for in the second leg next week.

Joe Bookbinder

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