After winning this tie last year the University of Sheffield suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Hallam after a tense finish from both sides.
Hallam started with drive and aggression, pressuring the Black and Golds into errors at the back. Uni of were unable to string passes together as they struggled to get in their groove and the pressure eventually told with Hallam’s Mike Burke scoring in the 20th minute.
It wasn’t long before they capitalised on high pressure and possession for their second with Harry McKinley capitalising on a late clearance from the back.
The University of Sheffield would have been glad to see the end of the first half as they pushed to play through balls from the back and appeared disjointed.
The second half saw a rapid improvement with Uni of beginning on the front foot to force themselves back into the game and were unfortunate not to score after hitting the post in the early stages.
Fortune continued to favour the Hallam side as a great header from a corner in the 65th minute hit the crossbar and the rebound was cleared off the line after hitting the Hallam centre back.
Uni of finally managed to pull one back with ten minutes to go through Ryan Heywood, but the goal was a controversial one with many on the Hallam touch line calling for offside.
The last ten minutes saw the Black and Golds push on but they were unable to find the final pass or bit of luck to turn their goal -mouth scramble into goals.
Tensions rose towards the end after a sliding tackle from Sheffield Hallam sent tempers fraying, but Hallam weathered the storm and in the end ran out deserved winners after a comfortable first-half and some strong defending in the second period.
After the game, Matthew Hutchinson, playing his last game for the University of Sheffield, said: “We were really unfortunate. There were a few chances there in the second half and if luck had been on our side today it would have been a different result.
“The goalmouth scramble and hitting the crossbar and the post meant it just wasn’t our day today, but that’s football. Really proud of the boys though and it’s been a really good season for us so we can hold our heads high.”
Photo credit: Suzie Cameron