After a convincing and clinical 7 – 0 win over Nottingham University, University of Exeter Men’s 1st Team are through to the Semi-Finals of the BUCS PwC Championship.
Initially, though, there seemed to be little separating the two teams in standard of performance over the first-half of the cold-weathered encounter.
Both teams looked to build a solid platform from defence, passing the ball around patiently before flashing quick, incisive passes along the flanks or through any gap created in the midfield.
In the second-half, however, Nottingham University became a faint shadow of first-half apparition as University of Exeter’s superior skill and technique prevailed.
Exeter, sensing Nottingham University’s fatigue, hunted after the ball as a hungry, close-knit pack driven by the motivation to secure a place in the Semi-Finals.
They won the ball off Nottingham University on several occasions and were clearly eager to exploit every chance from the manner in which the whole team surged towards Nottingham’s increasingly fractureddefence.
Nick Cooper, James Royce, John Sterlini and Rob Mugridge all scored from well worked moves with University of Exeter often carving gaping spaces into Nottingham’s defence via a few swift but simple passes.
Tom Carson also scored from a penalty corner in the closing minutes of the game with a drag-flick that fizzed through the air to beat Nottingham University’s goalkeeper at his left post, leaving him sprawled across the floor in a sorry state.
University of Exeter now go on to play the next stage of the competition at home on February 22nd against their main adversary,Loughborough, for a game promising to be showcase of quality.
In the BUCS Cup, meanwhile, University of Exeter 2s are through to the Semi-Finals after beating University of Exeter 3s 3 – 1.
The 3s made the stronger start to the game, though, and created several clear-cut chances throughout the opening passages of play that tested the abilities of 2s keeper Andrew Miller.
But then the 2s found a higher gear to their performance and Andrew Miller’s fine acrobatic save from an Ed Vickers drag-flick signified a sudden shift in the game’s momentum.
Andrew Ross left Toby Walker haplessly stunned with a quickly fired drag-flick before Dafydd Bury burst through the midfield to score a superb solo goal midway through the first half to make the score 2 – 0.
Defeat didn’t seem to be a concept that the 3s understood, however, as they responded to Bury’s strike well with Stefan von Hanisch rocketing the ball past a stumped Miller and the game’s outcome hung in a fine balance for several minutes as the 3s continued to pressurise their familiar opponents.
However, a mixture of poor defending from the 3s and definitive finishing from the 2s cost the 3s their slim chances of repeating last year’s upset victory: Matt Granell was brought down in the ‘D’ and Andrew Ross scored his second drag-flick of the game from the subsequent penalty corner to make the final score 3 – 1.
Forward Vickers was sage after the match, saying: “we fought with our usual tenacity until the whistle blew at the end of the game but the 2s’ fitness and strong defence were the decisive factors between the teams today. We can be proud of how we played but that doesn’t really help to numb the sense of disappointment after going out in the Quarter-Finals.”
University of Exeter 2s will now play away to either Brighton 1s or Reading 1s in the Semi-Finals of the BUCS Cup on February 22nd. The travelling distance doesn’t mean that you can’t show your support, though – road trip?