Football: Men’s 1sts defeat a woeful Northumbria 8-0

Megan Liardet 1By

Durham Men’s First XI brought their league campaign to a memorable conclusion on Wednesday as a terrific team display saw them defeat Northumbria 8-0 at Maiden Castle.

Following a hard-fought victory at Sheffield Hallam the previous week, this emphatic success ensures the Palatinates will enter the Championship this month brimming with confidence.

A dreadfully poor Northumbria side were no match for Durham, who scored four goals in each half and gave their beleaguered opponents no respite in a thoroughly professional display.

Midfielder rightfully took the plaudits for a magnificent hat-trick, but in truth the victory was secured by a superb team performance, epitomised by the fact that six players eventually put their names on the score sheet.

Durham dominated from the outset on a cold and cloudy afternoon, and made their early pressure count when King was fouled on the edge of the penalty area, which allowed winger Ben Cohen to hit a low free-kick that squirmed under the visiting goalkeeper, who would have been disappointed not to have done better.

Having taken an early lead Durham never looked in trouble, and trebled their advantage in the space of two minutes either side of the half-hour mark.

First, striker Joe Barwick looped a shot over the Northumbria keeper after the visiting side had failed to clear a Tom Almond free-kick, and straight from the kick-off, King made it 3-0.

Durham stole the ball from a lackadaisical Northumbria midfield; King raced towards goal, weaved past a helpless visiting centre-back and slid the coolest of finishes past the goalkeeper to really bring to an end the game as a meaningful contest.

Northumbria’s defence was in tatters, and in attack they posed no significant threat; a low shot that was sharply saved by American Matt Perrella just before half-time represented their only noteworthy effort on goal in the entire game.

There remained enough time before the break for Durham to once again capitalise on Northumbria’s languid defending, as Johnny Giles’ delicate cross was met by the head of King, who timed his run to perfection before glancing the ball into the far corner.

Northumbria’s defence vehemently protested at what they felt was a failure on the part of the linesman to raise the offside flag, but their protests were in vain and Durham took a comfortable 4-0 lead into half-time.

The hosts’ domination continued after the break, as Josh Addinall tapped in from a yard at the far post to extend the lead after King’s right-wing free-kick evaded almost everyone in the penalty area, and Durham’s sixth goal typified the visitor’s dreadful display.

The Northumbria goalkeeper left his penalty area to clear a long ball over the top, but his scuffed clearance fell straight to the feet of King, who coolly rolled the ball into the empty net to complete his hat-trick and compound Northumbria’s misery.

With a resounding victory already assured and the visitors evidently keen to end their embarrassment, Durham refused to let up, and Cohen could have grabbed his second of the game, but he headed Almond’s cross just wide.

However, it mattered little as, in the final twenty minutes, Giles and substitute Dave Green both netted to make Durham the Northern Premier’s highest scorers this season.

Giles cut in from the right to score – albeit with the help of a heavy deflection off a Northumbrian defender – before Green curled home a terrific shot, with the aid of the far post, from the right-hand corner of the penalty box.

Giles could have taken the hosts to within a goal of double figures three minutes from time, after he created space for himself with some terrific footwork, but his long-range effort failed to find the target.

With the regular league season now complete and a third-place finish secured, Durham’s attention will now turn to the play-offs, where they will be aiming to cap a memorable first year in the top division with silverware.

But regardless of the outcome of this end-of-season lottery, Durham can take a great deal of positives from the season.

“It’s been a really good year,” explained Coach Chris Moore, “we went into the unknown and didn’t really know what to expect, and then lost the first game 3-0, so the lads have reacted really well. We’ve got a great group of players and they’ve done themselves justice this season”.

After a victory as resounding as this, Durham will have every confidence of more success as the season approaches its conclusion.

Photograph: Megan Liardet

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