On a bright but fresh late afternoon at Meadow Lane, Nottingham Trent University ran out 4-2 winners over the University of Nottingham in what was in truth, an error strewn encounter on a difficult playing surface. The result left the varsity series at 7-4 ahead of the men’s game later in the day.
Trent, who had been expected to use a diamond in midfield, sprung a slight tactical surprise, by pushing Faye Noble into an advanced centre forward position, supported from the left from Bermudan international Dominique Richardson and from the right Maz Redman, effectively mirroring Nottingham’s 4-3-3.
The beginning of the game was predictably frantic. Trent had the better of the early stages, and looked threatening from set pieces making use of the extra height in their team in the form of Emma Hullingsworth, Debi Greenham and Richardson. A fourth minute corner resulted in some panicked defending from Uni of, a foreboding sign of what was to come.
Debi Greenham went close with a left footed free kick from the inside right channel which flashed just past the far post, before Trent went close again from a corner with Redman heading just wide with Garland rooted. The most memorable moment of the opening quarter was a rash challenge from Nottingham’s Shannon Smith, from behind and late, for which she was lucky to escape without a booking.
That was the most exciting moment until the 25th minute, when Trent did what they had been threatening throughout and took the lead with a goal from a set piece. Debbie Greenham’s initial effort was blocked, but ball rebounded to her and she took full advantage of her good fortune to poke Trent in front.
That almost elicited an immediate response from Nottingham as Tilley missed a good chance to equalise; clean through on goal with a bouncing ball in front of her, she got too much on her half volleyed lob and the ball flew over the bar.
She will have breathed a sigh of relief when the equaliser did arrive for Nottingham, somewhat against the grain of the game. Some clumsy footwork from Trent’s keeper conceded a cheap corner. The corner was cleared to the edge of the box and a superb effort was cleared off the line but only as far as Lauren Felia who made no mistake with the rebound.
Trent, perhaps feeling short-changed from going in level at the break began the second period in fine fashion. An ambitious long range from Greenham squirmed under the body of Nottingham ‘keeper Garland to restore Trent’s advantage. It was 3-1 just four minutes later, set pieces causing discomfort for Nottingham yet again, as a looping corner was met on the volley at the far post by Trent skipper O’Neil. The game was effectively sealed in the 55th minute when Redman converted from a left wing cross.
It looked as if Nottingham might be able to stage a late comeback for a while, when in the 74th minute a speculative effort by Mariah Cameron from the right corner of the penalty area soared into the roof of the net; Mullet will feel she should have done better having got two hands on the shot.
A late rally failed to materialise however, and the game petered out to a deserved 4-2 win for Trent; who’s extra physicality and composure on the ball was the difference. An honourable mention ought to go to Sabrina Mullins, who was Nottingham’s stand out performer. The centre back displayed good pace in her recovery running and strode out purposefully into midfield on a few occasions in the second half. It was not a poor team performance by any means from Uni of, but they will have regrets about the soft goals they conceded especially the two from set pieces.
You can follow Dan on Twitter: @ZeqiriDan
Follow live Varsity updates on Twitter with @ImpactVarsity15
Image: UoNSport Twitter