The University of Nottingham (UoN) Women’s Football Team could not find a way past a stoic Nottingham Trent University defence as they lost their Varsity 2017 fixture 1-0.
Trent’s Mallory Isley grabbed the only goal of the game with a 25-yard strike with 10 minutes to go in the first half, and UoN could not find the goal needed to take the game to penalties for the second year running, despite peppering the Trent goal-mouth in the second half.
Cagey first half but Trent strike first
For Trent to take the Varsity 2017 series to the final day, both football fixtures were must-win games. The game started scrappily, with both teams struggling to get their playmakers on the ball in a crowded midfield.
UoN striker Katie Gray looked the Green and Gold’s biggest threat all game, and she had the first chance of the game, finding space in the Trent box and firing narrowly wide.
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Trent’s first real chance came from a free-kick on the edge of the UoN box, with Kayla Kret receiving a yellow card for a late tackle, which Camilla Newton fired wide.
A scrappy first-half where neither team could retain possession for long periods was illuminated by a speculative 25-yard strike from Isley that UoN keeper Sarah Buckley could not hold on to.
With less than ten minutes to go before the end of the first half, the ladies in Green and Gold pushed hard for the goal to equalise at half-time, with Katie Gray’s hard running helping to fashion a late flurry of chances for UoN.
Elizabeta Ejupi’s header from Gray’s cross was deflected out for a corner; the resulting corner led to a goal-mouth scramble, with Kret’s header finally held by Trent keeper Aja Aguirre.
Trent ride their luck as the Green and Gold cannot find an equaliser
The last ten minutes of the first-half set the tone, as UoN came out for the second half full of intent, and did not have to wait long for their best chance of the game to equalise. Lindsay Morgan was put through on goal and, one-on-one with the keeper, could only shot straight at the keeper’s legs.
Gray’s attempted cross from the by-line shaved the top of the Trent bar just minutes later, with no player in green on the end of capitalise. Ten minutes into the second half, the UoN ladies must have wondered whether the Trent goal was charmed, as a goal-mouth scramble led to UoN hitting the post from less than three yards.
With more players committing to attacking, UoN were always going to be more open at the back, and they were given an almighty scare when Charlotte Broad ran through on Buckley’s goal, but screwed her shot just wide of the far post.
“It was [Katie] Gray who was causing Trent all sorts of problems down the right hand side”
Millie Jones was introduced for UoN to add some fresh legs, but it was Gray once again who was causing Trent all sorts of problems down the right hand side, cutting inside on two occasions in quick succession, but struggling to find a UoN player with the final pass.
Ellen Salter replaced captain Ellen Readman and Georgie Talbot came on for Anna Tilley, as UoN laid siege to the Trent goal. Erin Owen stung the palms of Aguirre from 35 yards, before Ejupi was found with a stellar cross, and with the goal gaping, could only head over.
It proved to be the final big chance for UoN, who will feel somewhat aggrieved that their second half performance could not produce the equalising goal.
Speaking to Impact after the game, Katie Gray said: “I feel like we had more chances [than Trent], we just couldn’t convert them. They had one chance in the first half, and they took it.
“I think we were the better team. We were favourites going into it, so it’s unfortunate we couldn’t make good with that.”
On playing at Meadow Lane, Gray insisted that Varsity presented a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” that hopefully she will “get to play next year as well.”
University of Nottingham Women’s Varsity Team:
1- Sarah Buckley
11 – Ellie Readman (c)
10 – Elizabeta Ejupi
4 – Ellen Salter
9 – CJ Semones
3 – Chelsey Greasley
5 – Cassie Chase
17 – Erin Owen
7 – Lindsay Morgan
13 – Anna Tilley
14 – Katie Gray
16 – Katey Lippett
6 – Joanna Loayza
15 – Kayla Kret
12 – Maire Gilmartin
2 – Nicole Butterfield
8 – Georgie Talbot
Images: Impact Images Team
Follow @ImpactVarsity17 for all the updates on the second week of Varsity 2017, with the score after the Varsity football standing at 11-7.