Late drama at Abbeydale saw the University of Sheffield score with only three minutes remaining to win the varsity point. Uni survived a Hallam onslaught in the final minutes to hold on 3-2 winners, in a heated encounter between the two bitter rivals.
Sheffield’s captain Alex Tait set the tone for the match in the first minute, he only lasted 30 seconds before some aggressive tackling saw him receive the game’s first yellow card. Both sides were clearly pumped up, challenging hard for each loose ball and it wasn’t long before Hallam also had a player in the bin for an over eager slide tackle. Despite both teams being temporarily reduced to ten men, neither side took their foot off the gas and the opening exchanges were played at an electric pace.
Hallam had the first clear chance on ten minutes, but their attacker couldn’t make it count and fired wired. Less than five minutes later they were ruing the missed opportunity as Tom Hawthorne scored a fantastic goal for Uni, after receiving the ball in the circle with his back to goal he turned sharply and fired it hard into the bottom corner.
The lead didn’t last long however, Hallam equalised five minutes later with a scrappy goal against the run of play. For the remainder of the match the teams were evenly matched, with much of the play in the centre of the field and neither side able to work a clear goal scoring chance.
Sheffield scored again just before the break through Matt Prichard but were pegged back again when Tait was sent to the bin for a second time, and Hallam converted the subsequent short corner.
Uni reacted well to the equaliser raising their game again with more strong tackling in defence, and powerful attacking runs from Dan Johnson. Throughout the final quarter of an hour Hallam were pinned back in their own half as Sheffield continued to push for the winner.
Pressure had been building on the Hallam goal and it eventually paid off, after a long patient build up the ball was fired across the circle to the back post where Johnson met it with a superb strike past the keeper to break Hallam’s hearts.
Emotions were running high after the final whistle. Hallam’s number 10 vented his anger by throwing his stick to floor and aiming a torrent of abuse at the nearest official, shouting “You are a f**king disgrace of an umpire”. Such reactions of course have no place in Varsity but it did nothing to take the gloss of an enthralling and well deserved Uni win. The final score, University of Sheffield 3-2 Sheffield Hallam.