MEN’S HOCKEY SECONDS
University of Sheffield 2-3 Sheffield Hallam
Uni’s men’s hockey seconds were left to rue missed chances and costly defensive errors as underdogs Hallam snatched victory at Abbeydale.
Uni took the lead within two minutes only to concede twice before the half was out. A penalty converted by Uni captain Robert Joule looked like it would give them a share of the spoils with only 12 minutes left to play, only for an instant reply from Hallam to seal the victory.
Joule found the loss difficult to take, saying: “I’m absolutely devastated. I thought we had the better chances, but we also made a lot of silly mistakes at the back. It’s always a lot harder to lose to Hallam.”
A loss for Uni seemed the most unlikeliest of results when, with streams of fans still making their way to the stands, Dan Molloy lost his marker before rounding the keeper and slotting into the net.
However, Hallam showed that winning the game would not be as easy as Uni made their first goal look, seeking an early response and winning a short corner that required a smart save from Uni keeper Lewis Bartlett.
Bartlett’s opposite number, George Radcliffe, was kept busy throughout the afternoon, and Hallam had him to thank for stopping Uni from doubling their lead when he deflected wide after Matthew Kettley had breezed through the Hallam’s porous defence.
Uni played a patient game, working the ball up the pitch from the back, but looked vulnerable on the counter-attack. Hallam took advantage of a lapse in concentration when, allowed far too much space in front of goal, Andrew Whiting shifted the ball past Bartlett and was left with a simple finish to level the match.
Though Radcliffe was forced to make a string of excellent stops, including one flying save to his right to deny Molloy his second, it was Hallam who led at the break. Josh Barras was quicker to the rebound than Uni’s defenders after Bartlett had done well to block, smashing home to make it 2-1 at half-time.
Uni came out for the second half revitalised; Radcliffe needed to be quick off his line to beat Kettley to the ball with no Hallam defenders in sight, and James Rigby also came close, hitting a loose ball on the turn but screwing his shot wide.
Hallam should have put the game to rest when Piers Duboulay did all the hard work in skipping past two defenders and rounding the keeper, but somehow contrived to miss with his reverse-stick attempt.
It looked like it would come back to haunt Hallam when Uni’s James Rigby did brilliantly to evade challenges and slide the ball into the danger zone from the back line. The ball was deflected goalwards and would have gone in but for hitting a Hallam body on the line, leaving the umpire no choice but to award a penalty stroke. Joule stepped up to take it, and levelled for Uni with a clinical finish.
Uni’s joy was short-lived, as Hallam immediately responded courtesy of a fine lob from Duboulay. They managed to cling on to the lead for the remainder of the game, surviving a last-ditch Uni effort from a short corner that Kieran Bhakta earned after a fine run down the right wing. The ball broke to Rigby, who blasted wide to dash any hopes of a dramatic late equaliser for Uni.