The University of Nottingham’s Ladies’ and Men’s Hockey first teams both cruised past Bath in UON Sport’s first Headliner event of the year. Despite the freezing conditions, the event attracted a big crowd, with Impact’s Rhys Thomas amongst them.
UON Ladies’ 1s 6-2 Bath
The UON Ladies’ 1s emerged onto the Highfields pitch with the backing of a sizeable home fanbase, with many hockey club members making their way to the ground to voice their support. From the first whistle, they translated this into a blistering performance, consistently outrunning and outmanoeuvring the visiting side.
The early pressure paid off when a tidy team move was finished well by Jordan Homan to give Notts the perfect start to the delight of the home crowd. UON continued to pile on the pressure and a well-struck reverse hit from Maddy Axford evaded the keeper’s flailing arms to put the Green and Gold two goals to the good.
2-0 remained the score at the end of a dominant first quarter where Notts could have led by more as they were buoyed by a loud home crowd at Highfields.
Even when the home side lost the ball, Bath barely had a second to collect themselves and were instantly turned over
UON continued their strong start in the second quarter by immediately winning a short corner. Even when the home side lost the ball, Bath barely had a second to collect themselves and were instantly turned over through a combination of sloppy play and Notts pressure.
The visitors did finally get a foothold in the game with a short corner midway into the second quarter. Despite a Notts player being sent to halfway for breaking early, the away side wasted the opportunity and Notts were reprieved and a golden opportunity to reignite the match was squandered.
Notts made Bath pay, and Axford was on hand once again to put UON further in front with another classy reverse finish. She almost completed her hat trick minutes later with a jinking run through the Bath defence that was only intercepted at the last moment.
The Notts number 89 was really running the show by this point, and she wasted no more time to grab her third, spinning the helpless Bath defender from a long corner and crashing yet another reverse hit into the backboard to make it 4-0 before half-time.
The interval saw some fantastic Movember action as UONHC President and Movember ambassador Fergus Stevens had his head shaved to raise money for the cause. UONHC have been prolific supporters of Movember for many years, and you can donate to their page here!
Notts continued to work tirelessly in defence as well as attack, with numerous important picks denying Bath any sniff at goal. The southern side did pull one back in the final quarter through a soft penalty flick after a brilliant run from their number 3 resulted in a chaotic scramble in the D.
An unbelievable finish from number 47 Nixon made it 5-1 after she received the ball on the edge of the D and clattered it in off the post
The action wasn’t finished there, however, and an unbelievable finish from number 47 Nixon made it 5-1 after she received the ball on the edge of the D and clattered it in off the post. This finish was the pick of a quality bunch of goals.
More unbelievable work from Axford down the right put UON into the D and they worked the overload well to make it 6-1 via captain Katie Curtis as the clock ticked down. There was still time for Bath to notch a consolation goal from a short corner, and the game finished 6-2. It was a comprehensive win for Notts under the Highfields lights and hopefully one that can kickstart their season!
Player of the Match – Axford. The England U21 international proved her experience with a dominant performance that Bath had no answers for.
UON Men’s 1s 4-0 Bath
With a high bar set by their counterparts, the men’s match got off to a comparatively less explosive start, albeit Notts were dominating possession.
For much of the first period, though they lacked any D penetration, but did get the opener though late in the first quarter, largely thanks to the aerial route. The high ball was controlled brilliantly by Louis Tipper and squared across the D to set up a tap in at the back post for skipper Archie Foster to set the Notts crowd roaring.
Bath responded well and grew more comfortable on the ball in the final minutes of Q1. They won the first short corner of the match as time ticked away, but the drag flick was blocked by a brave Notts runner’s shinpad, and the ensuing second corner was kicked away by keeper Olly Smart.
There was nearly a comedic third for Notts, as a colossal error from Bath 5 as on his own penalty spot put Notts 1-on-1 but the Bath keeper stood firm to spare his teammate’s blushes
The next decent UON opening came in Q2 as the Green and Gold number 99 found space at the top D and flashed a powerful reverse just wide. Notts did double their advantage midway through the quarter via Williamson, who drag flicked into the bottom corner from a short corner, one which Bath felt aggrieved to have been given against them. There was nearly a comedic third for Notts, as a colossal error from Bath 5 as on his own penalty spot put Notts 1-on-1 but the Bath keeper stood firm to spare his teammate’s blushes.
2-0 at the halfway point was a fair reflection of the game, which had been in the balance before Notts shifted up the gears and broke through the resilient Bath defence.
Receiving the ball just outside the 23-metre line, he drove inside his marker and powered into the D before unleashing a strong strike that nutmegged the keeper
The third quarter saw UON lack the quality in the final ball to make the game safe, at least until Max Anderson took matters into his own hands in the 43rd minute. Receiving the ball just outside the 23-metre line, he drove inside his marker and powered into the D before unleashing a strong strike that nutmegged the keeper.
Notts added one more goal in the fourth quarter through fresher Ed Brice, who stole away from his marker and finished tidily on his reverse. There could have been a fifth for the Green and Gold, but Tipper could only divert a knee-high ball over the bar when it may already have been heading in!
POTM – Ed Brice. The first year looked bright and energetic throughout the match and typified his performance with a brilliant goal.
Another great Headliner event saw another clean sweep for UON, and the partnership with Movember for these fixtures made it all the more worthwhile!
Featured image courtesy of Rhys Thomas. Permission given to Impact to use. No changes were made to this image.
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