The University of Sheffield Women’s Hockey 1s produced a thrilling first-half comeback in an exhilarating 4-4 draw against Nottingham Trent University.
Sheffield were hoping to record back-to-back league wins after recording their first victory of the season against Leeds last week. However, even a point looked unlikely for the hosts after conceding twice in the opening 10 minutes against Trent.
The visitors took the lead inside five minutes after Rachel Malcolm’s shot from a penalty corner was deflected past Sheffield goalkeeper Catherine Powell. It went from bad to worse for Sheffield a few minutes later when Rosario Villagra reacted quickest in the ‘D’ to double Nottingham’s lead.
Sheffield showed great character to come from two goals down and, although it can be easy to panic in these situations, the home side remained calm and continued to work hard in search of a way back into the game. It was captain Annie Radcliffe’s composure and quick-thinking that led to the hosts’ first goal.
Radcliffe used her initiative to take a quick free-hit to catch the Nottingham defence off-guard. Scarlett Heath received the ball from Radcliffe, but saw her shot saved by the Trent goalkeeper. Lucy Ginn was alert to prod home at the back post to score on her first-team debut.
This goal provided Sheffield with the belief that they needed and it wasn’t long before the hosts were back on level terms. This time it was Heath who pounced upon a rebound after Sheffield’s initial shot from a penalty corner was saved.
Five minutes later, the hosts led for the first time after completing the comeback to turn the game on its head. Sheffield once again took advantage of a penalty corner as Jess Aps reacted quickest to power past the Trent goalkeeper after Ruth Thomas’ shot was blocked on the line.
After completing a three-goal comeback to lead 3-2 at half-time, the momentum was with Sheffield heading into the second half. However, it was Trent who struck first just after the restart to draw the score back level.
Like they did in the first half, Trent started the second period brightly. Goalkeeper Powell had to intercept a pass from Argentina U21 international Villagra to deny the visitors a one-on-one attack, before Sylvia Rose hit the post.
Sheffield looked to have withstood Trent’s pressure but, moments after Rose hit the post, Sophie Hall scored the equalising goal, firing high into the roof of the net. The two sides were not back on level terms for long as Sheffield immediately responded from another penalty corner with Rebecca Wood’s low drilled shot finding the bottom corner.
There was to be one more twist in the tale as, despite Catherine Powell’s efforts to stop a low driven shot from the edge of the ‘D’, the ball crossed the line and Nottingham found themselves back on level terms. Both sides pressed in search of a winner, but neither side could score another goal and the game finished 4-4.
Sheffield vice-captain Ruth Thomas told Forge Sport: “It was an intense game, it was end-to-end, four goals each is exactly what you want from hockey; minus the fact we didn’t win. Everyone played incredibly well, we just didn’t put the chances away we had.”
Andy Gibson, the Women’s Hockey 1s coach, said: “It was a pleasing performance; it is the most goals we have scored in a single game and we know where we need to improve. But we carried a threat all game and going forward I thought we were excellent.”