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U18s: Cumbria 2 Durham 4

A good away win

Posted by: allan

Durham travelled to Cumbria and deservedly came away with the 3 points but had to dig deep to come from behind to gain their victory.

Durham started the game with a deliberate high tempo to try and unsettle the Cumbrian side with wide players Joe Sloan and Nathan Cross linking well with their full back partners Joe Lockey and Liam Robson to ensure a steady supply of dangerous balls into the Cumbrian penalty area. Both Durham strikers James Thompson and Stevie Johnson tested the Cumbrian keeper in the early exchanges and the Cumbrian defenders got behind the ball in numbers to protect their keeper. It came as no surprise when Durham took the lead as Lockey played a neat one-two with Joe Sloan and showed a strikers’ composure to shoot across the Cumbrian keeper from close range on 22 minutes. With the hard working duo of Mason Hurworth and Jonny Langley complementing each other in the centre of the park Durham looked as though they would settle into a period of dominance. However, what did come as a surprise was Durham committing the sin of letting Cumbria straight back in the game with a bizarre goal. Durham keeper David Haynes tried to set an early attack away and proceeded to play the ball off the back of a Cumbrian striker and the ball ballooned into the air; the Cumbrian player was the first to react to place an impressive overhead kick beyond the stranded Haynes and into the Durham net to level the scores. This gave Cumbria the impetus to come forward and they forced a couple of corners. The second corner was awarded to the bewilderment of all the players on both sides but the Cumbrian lads capitalised on it by swinging the ball into the crowded goalmouth which caused a great deal of confusion in the sixth yard box and the end result was that it was forced over the line to give Cumbria a 2-1 lead in the 27th minute.

This was another short-lived lead as Durham showed good character to hit back quickly. Lockey played in a free kick from deep and Johnson kept his cool to pick his spot from within the crowded goalmouth to bring the tie level again. Durham increased the pace of their game again and restored their lead on 39 minutes when Cross cleverly played in Sloan who held off a strong challenge to finish. At this stage Durham had the majority of the possession but Cumbria looked dangerous on the break as their long ball game turned the Durham defence round during periods of transition but centre backs Ryan Colquhoun and Nik Krokhin were strong and resolute on the turn. Durham also continued to chase more goals but could not add to their tally before the half time whistle blew.

Durham made wholesale changes at the break to rotate their large squad, and the introduction of all their substitutes from the bench changed their pattern of play with the new centre midfield of Stephen Black and Joe Ames moving the ball quickly and with purpose. The fresh strike force of Matthew Law and Sam Hodgson also injected new problems for the Cumbrian defenders. The impressive Cumbria goalkeeper was effectively keeping the score down and his team in the game during this impressive period of possession by Durham. On the hour mark the ever alert Law eventually put Durham further ahead with an astute finish at the near post.

Durham went on to dominate the rest of the game and the only surprise remaining was that they did not stretch their lead further with Thompson and Hodgson both narrowly missing the target after creating shooting opportunities for themselves. Robson then hit the crossbar with a speculative cross-cum-shot from a deep position out on the right hand wing. It was only a combination of desperate defending, some confident goalkeeping and some narrowly missed chances that denied Durham further goals.

In summary, the Durham lads can be commended for a gritty performance on a difficult surface and welcomed the three points to add to their unbeaten start to the season.

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