The University of Nottingham (UoN) Men’s Football Team went down 3-1 to Nottingham Trent University (NTU), after some wonderful first-half finishing by Trent gave them too much to do, despite a spirited second-half fightback.
Following a goalless ninety minutes in the women’s match which Nottingham Trent went onto win on penalties, the men’s Varsity football fixture was a feisty affair. Some wonderful finishing by Trent was marred by sloppy passing from both sides and, despite a late rally, the University of Nottingham just gave themselves too much of a mountain to climb after conceding two early goals.
Any thoughts of a quiet game similar to the preceding women’s one were instantly dispelled by a clinical finish from Trent’s number 9, Arel Amu, which sailed beyond goalkeeper Keval Patel after only 32 seconds.
Understandably, the trailing side were rattled and the next 15 minutes were a shaky section as they tried to regain some confidence. Occasional forays into Trent’s half were the only respite during this period, as corners and long balls were sent towards UoN’s goal were just about cleared away.
“The scoreline properly reflected a half where Trent took their chances and were sharper both on and off the ball”
Unfortunately, just as some defensive solidity had been regained, UoN were dealt another sucker punch, via an excellent Joe Junkovic strike. It was 2-0 to Trent after only just 20 minutes and things were looking rather bleak for UoN.
It did seem to spur on the losing side, however. Aside from some misplaced passes and a couple of mistimed challenges, UoN found themselves in some better positions as the half went on, and tried to make the most of set piece opportunities. A particularly promising free kick was drilled into the wall but it was much better than the opening quarter of the match.
“Immediately after the half-time break, UoN certainly showed that they would not just roll over”
In another twist, Trent increased their lead to 3-0 just before half-time, a notoriously painful time to concede, with another outstanding finish from similar position to the second goal. This time the scorer was Josh Rae. The goalkeeper could at least take comfort in the fact that the actual goals were all very well-taken and little could have been done about them.
Nevertheless, the scoreline properly reflected a half where Trent took their chances and were sharper both on and off the ball. If a Varsity 2016 win was going to happen for Notts Uni then a real #throwbackthursday to Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League madness would be in order.
Immediately after the half-time break, UoN certainly showed that they would not just roll over. There was better pressing and closing down than in the first period of the match. Some real drama occurred when goalkeeper Patel made a fantastic save in a one-on-one situation with a Trent man who was through on goal. He also showed off a safe pair of hands following a free kick to Trent at a similar time.
A couple of speculative shots gave off the whiff of desperation for UoN, not an unreasonable sentiment given the circumstances, but the Trent defence was proving very difficult to break down.
Trent were finally was broken down with just 20 minutes to go as Shonde scored, after a scramble in the penalty area. It wasn’t pretty but it was a goal and it invigorated the players and the supporters a great deal. It certainly made for an exciting final period. Trent were on the back foot for a lot of this time, as UoN fought hard to get another goal to help narrow the deficit.
This naturally left spaces at the back which Trent players sought to exploit but they couldn’t find another goal. A series of good balls were put into the box for UoN but nothing came of them as the clock ticked over and the referee (Premier League veteran Kevin Friend) blew the final whistle.
Towards the end of the game it looked very even and UoN will regret conceding those very early goals. Getting one back led to a glimmer of hope but in the end Trent held off the fightback and those opening moments proved fatal for the opponents. Trent’s two football victories took the Varsity 2016 score to 8-6, going into Tuesday’s volleyball events.
University of Nottingham Men’s Football Team Roster:
Charles Gerson (c)
Words by Tom Welshman
Images: IMPACT Images Team
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