The day of Varsity football at Meadow Lane last Monday got off to a bad start for the University of Nottingham, as their women’s football team were defeated by Trent courtesy of a tense penalty shoot-out.
UoN had gone into the match on the back of some fantastic form in season, though if they were carrying confidence going into the match it certainly didn’t show in the opening exchanges as both sides struggled to adjust to a slippery pitch and take charge of the match. Chances nonetheless managed to present themselves in the first half and UoN almost found themselves falling behind early on as keeper Rachel Aldred was fortunate to see the ball rebound off her crossbar after struggling to deal with a shot from Trent’s Lauren Plummer.
Despite setting up their side to aggressively confront Trent’s powerful midfield, UoN ultimately found that their best chances were limited to long balls over the top to striker Anna Mawston. Put clean through on goal in the first half thanks to a defence-splitting pass by Captain Stephanie Smith, Mawston dragged her shot well wide of the target in what was to be the best in a half of few chances.
The second half however would see both teams carving out clearer opportunities for themselves. A glancing header from Ellie Sakata brought out a flying stop from the Trent keeper. Unfortunately, in spite of this Trent would take the lead shortly after. Aldred was again the culprit as she failed to smother a weak shot from outside the box, and despite her best efforts to scramble the ball clear it fell to Trent’s Lauren Garner to gleefully slot into an empty net.
This would not see the end of Trent pressure however, and the lively substitute Sarah Daman-Willems was a constant threat throughout on the left wing. With the clock ticking towards the dreaded ninetieth minute however, UoN’s Sammy Conroy picked up the ball from the left side of the Trent box, cutting inside to curl the ball past the Trent keeper and to nestle in the far corner of the net, sparking jubilant celebrations from her players. The equaliser was minutes from the final whistle but it didn’t stop UoN at trying to steal the win from under Trent’s noses as Smith sliced a half-volley against the post in the dying seconds.
With no extra –time for the teams, penalties would be the decider. After UoN blasted several of their efforts over the bar it was left to Daman-Willems to confidently slot home the winning penalty and break the hearts of her opponents.
Statistics courtesy of Phil Bowyer