Durham M1s see off ten-man Newcastle in thrilling derby-day clash

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The North East has been starved of a derby for some time. However, last Wednesday Maiden Castle hosted a frosty affair between Durham and Newcastle University’s M1 football sides during which the hosts narrowly defeated their Tyneside counterparts. 

Durham were in search of a win which would confirm their survival from relegation. 

Within the opening minutes Newcastle’s left back was having words with Durham’s Billy Clark who caused him a multitude of problems in the first half. The Durham winger’s marginally late challenge set the tone for the tie.

A little while later Newcastle had already picked up their first caution of the game after an unnecessary late challenge had one of the away midfielders go straight into the book. 

Despite the hosts’ vigorous pressing by a front line led by Ben Jones, the visitors’ defence was solid under pressure — they were able to pass the ball out well and break through the press. They began to incorporate long balls to their pacey attackers. This almost let through an opportunistic away striker who was narrowly denied by the last gasp foot of goalkeeper Max Coombes.

The end-to-end action continued throughout the first half. Clark continued to beat his man on the right but finding the final ball proved difficult. 

A golden chance presented itself to the home side shortly before half time. Newcastle’s keeper showed shaky signs and was lucky to keep his clean sheet intact. He struggled to control a bouncing back pass and his unconvincing clearance barely made it out of his box. Tom Hizzert lifted a first time effort over him but it was clawed off the line. 

The goal brought out no shades of vulnerability from Durham

Coming out from the break Durham started on the front foot. Clark once again found himself in a promising position on the right. His low ball fizzed across Newcastle’s box towards Hizzert yet some excellent defending meant that the visitors survived another chance.

Although this didn’t remain the case for so long. A Durham corner left them struggling to get the ball clear. As it pinballed about, an edge of the box half-volley was turned goalwards by Owen Gourley past a helpless keeper. A huge goal towards Durham’s fight for survival. 

Thankfully, the goal brought out no shades of vulnerability from Durham. In fact, it brought more confidence and fluidity to their attacks. This could have seen them pick up a comfortable two goal lead if it wasn’t for an impressive double save to deny Hizzert once again.

These attacks were becoming increasingly difficult for Newcastle to deal with. On the hour mark, Newcastle’s right back found himself in the referees book, after illegally stopping a counter attack on the edge of the penalty area. 

Jones was unlucky not to double Durham’s lead after dealing with a through ball with expert control. After swiftly sorting his feet out, his effort found itself wide of the post. 

Newcastle’s warning signs were few and far between but Coombes was reliable when called into action, standing tall to deny from close range as the game approached 70 minutes.

As the visitors pushed for an equaliser a second late challenge from their number eight all but ended their chances. His second caution of the afternoon saw him leave the pitch 20 minutes before the final whistle. The challenge was needlessly late on the edge of Durham’s box, and the hosts rushed to their teammates’ defence resulting in a confrontation for the officials to deal with. 

Frustration and desperation set in for Newcastle throughout the closing stages. This reflected in their challenges as Durham used their man advantage to slow down the pace of the game towards its conclusion.

Discussions travelled fast around the stand as to whether this result would be enough to guarantee Durham’s safety in the division. The roar of Maiden Castle at the final whistle mingled with a collective sigh of relief, with Gourley’s second-half goal proving to be the crucial difference between the sides, ultimately confirming their league status once more. 

Durham XI

Coombes, Camarda, Cave, Kilvington, Gourley, Wilkinson, Clark, Flint, Jones, Hizzert, Gibbons

Subs: England, Smallridge, Eastham, Parkinson, Brooks

Goals: Gourley (47’)

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