Varsity 2013: Women’s Hockey Postmatch Report

16th March 2013

Friday evening saw the Uni Ladies 1sts rise triumphant 3-1 against a well-drilled Trent side who proved hard to break down.

The match began as a scrappy affair, with Uni dominating possession and keeping Trent hemmed in their own half of the pitch, but not getting much to show from it. Trent defended with great discipline, often keeping all outfield players bar a single centre forward behind the ball, and were set up from the start to absorb the Uni pressure. Indeed, the first 15 or so minutes of the game were notable only for the number of fouls committed by a Trent side set on upsetting Uni’s rhythm.

The breakthrough came on 18 minutes, when a fast Trent counterattack down the left flank took Uni’s defenders completely off guard. The resulting cross was converted by an advancing Trent midfielder with ease, after a calamitous attempt at defending by Uni’s two centre-backs, who seemed totally unprepared for the Trent advance.

Uni responded with a rally up to half time, putting Trent under sustained pressure, but a composed performance from their defence and midfield enabled them to soak it up. The profligacy of Uni’s centre forward didn’t help matters either, as she struggled to link up with her wingers.

Uni clearly rethought their approach over halftime, and re-emerged for the second half with a reworked formation, switching from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2. The move was an immediate success, as the forwards advanced to push Trent’s defenders back and create space for Uni’s midfield, and this led directly to Uni’s equalising goal. Uni’s number 5 embarked on a searing run straight down the middle of the pitch, beating her marker with ease and cooly slotting the ball home, bottom left of goal.

With the scores at 1-1 Trent were visibly spooked, and from here on in the gulf in class between the two sides became apparent. Uni cranked up the pressure to yet a higher degree, with a great spell of passing on the right flank leading to a goal from the right winger, who cut in side and shot accurately from outside the D.

As both sides tired more and more fouls were given away, but it was Trent who failed to take advantage of theirs. Increasingly, Trent gave away possession needlessly, so when Uni’s 3rd and final goal came it was entirely within the run of play. That said, if Trent’s keeper had been more assertive she could and would have intercepted the long cross which Uni’s number 18 practically snatched from beneath her feet to put in the net.

All in all, the result in practice was as would have been expected on paper. Uni, playing in a higher league to Trent, were fully expected to win this game, and by keeping their cool in spite of conceding early and trusting their ability to turn the game around, they did the job required of them. It was a well-deserved and comprehensive win which the ladies were rightly happy with – when Chris Brown caught up with them, they were in high spirits, and particularly pleased by the strong showing from the freshers who made their Varsity debut.

Varsity 2013: Women’s Hockey
UoN 3-1 NTU
15/3/13 at Beeston Hockey Club

Words by Michael Gaffney, audio by Chris Brown