The University of Sheffield Women’s 1s hung on to a 2-1 victory against Sheffield Hallam in an enthralling hockey match at Abbeydale Sports Park.
Fiona Small and Ruth Thomas found the target for Uni of as they took a two goal advantage before those in maroon and white halved the deficit through an Ellie O’Neill penalty corner.
But it wasn’t enough as Uni claimed the Varsity point, much to the relief of the Black and Gold fans who battled through the weather to cheer on their side.
Just three minutes had passed when the first opportunity of the game arose, with Thomas striking a shot towards the Hallam goal from a penalty corner, but after a scuffle in front of the net the defence stood strong and managed to clear their lines.
A few moments later Hallam found themselves under severe pressure again when Amy Jones lost possession of the ball in midfield, yet Maria Barwick couldn’t capitalise with both teams cancelling each other out in the centre of the field.
There was no doubt though that Uni of, who had reached the BUCS play-offs after topping the Northern 1A Conference, were looking most likely to find the target, so it wasn’t surprising when Small’s long range shot mid-way through the first found the target.
It was really a shot from nothing, a long range strike outside the shooting circle, but a slight deflection befuddled Hallam’s goalkeeper Harriet Whittaker who saw the ball fly past her in a flash.
With Sarah Brown dictating the tempo of the game in midfield and the pace of Claudia James down the right hand side, Uni of kept on piling the pressure, and just before the break it paid dividends when Thomas’s penalty corner attempt beat Whittaker for pace as the Black and Golds doubled their lead.
In Varsity though nothing is certain. Even though Hallam had been on the back foot for large periods, the team who finished 11 points behind Uni in the BUCS league found a route back into the match through an O’Neill penalty corner.
As Hallam pressed forward looking for the winner they opened up at the back, but when Jessica Aps found space in a one on one situation her poor decision making allowed the Hallam defence to recover and clear.
Yet Uni of held on to the Varsity point in what was a tense match and a tenacious performance from the Black and Gold.
Photo credit: Aimée Cooper