Nottingham University FC endured a tough but extremely rewarding pre-season as two weeks of endless sit ups, press ups, shuttle runs and 80 metre sprints came to an end. Impact delivers the Nottingham University Football Club Report.
The coaches put the members from all four teams through their paces from 8am until 1pm every day, with the boys responding magnificently and going from strength to strength as the days went on. The first class work rate demonstrated during a ‘spinning’ class at Virgin Active Health Club typified the fortnights work. This commitment was carried forward throughout the pre-season friendlies as the goals flowed from the NUFC boys, particularly Jack Lee who netted a hat-trick away at Sheffield and Hugo Docx who scored on several occasions. The club was excited by the prospect of finding new players for the four NUFC teams from the trial processes, which would run over a week. A number of extremely talented players were recruited, all of whom will no doubt have integral roles to play over the next three years, and the club were able to move into the BUCS fixtures with genuine excitement.
The success of last season had seen NUFC’s 1st XI gain promotion to the BUCS Northern Premier League. Their first fixture would see them travel to Loughborough, certainly a baptism of fire, to play on a pitch of the highest quality. After going 1-0 down inside thirty minutes Notts deservedly equalised, Hugo Sikuade firing in powerfully from inside the six-yard box. Notts could and probably should have been leading at half time, Chris Plummer and Rafi Stone going close with drives from the edge of the area. With the score locked at 1-1 with an hour played, either side could have gone on to win, but unfortunately Loughborough ran out victors, eventually winning 3-1, courtesy of an own goal and a penalty. Nevertheless, Notts had given a good account of themselves, and should certainly have taken a point, if not all three.
After a further weeks training Notts lined up the following Wednesday looking for a more positive result versus visitors Stirling. Michael Timotheou, back in the starting XI provided the quality required, demonstrating his class by scoring two goals in quick succession in the first half. For the first, Timotheou rounded two Striling defenders, played a one-two with Captain Tom Giddings before slotting home with his left foot. Timotheou’s second goal saw him glide past further Stirling defenders and finishing right-footed before nearly completing his hat-trick on the stroke of half time with a superb curling shot from the left-hand corner of the box. Timotheou’s goals had made the difference, but the whole team’s first half display had been first class. Notts’ attackers, Timotheou, Chris Plummer and Charles Gerson had seen a lot of the ball and Captain Giddings, Marko Popovic and Alex Haynes had dominated the opposition’s midfield with Ben Walters and Stevan Popovic commanding the defence. The second half proved a scrappy affair with Notts barely mustering a shot at goal but the damage had been done in the first half and NUFC coped well under significant Striling pressure to run out 2-0 victors. Credit must go to the defence and goalkeeper Amos Teschuva who made a series of crucial saves, reminding everyone of how integral he is to the side.
As things stand, with one win and one defeat, NUFC’s 1st XI have begun the season satisfactorily. There are certainly things to work on, both technically and tactically, but generally it has been a positive start for the team. The early morning circuits and shuttle runs performed during pre-season are now starting to tell and, as winter approaches, things look extremely positive for the rest of the season.