Loughborough 1st vs. University of Manchester 1st: Sep 25th 2011-09-28
Sacha Oliver Stout
This fixture was the first game for Manchester 1sts in the new academic year. Despite being a friendly, the prospect of playing any Loughborough side ensured that there was no complacency in the Manchester side, who fully expected a competitive and physical game. They were not disappointed.
The first quarter started well for the home side, new man Ben Stringer opening his Manchester account with minutes with a well placed shot from the inside of a slow sliding Loughborough defence. The goal appeared to kick Loughborough to life, who quickly replied with a goal on the fast break through 11#, making it a 1-1 game within 6 minutes. A fast and athletic Loughborough held the majority of possession in the second half of the quarter, and despite a lack of attacking flair managed to steal a goal with 45 seconds to spare with a shot from the outside through 12#. Manchester went in 2-1 down, clearly rusty from the summer break. New coaches DeFrancesco and Acone wasted no time pointing out where the problems lay, with emphasis on possession and better slides in the defence.
The second quarter was much better for Manchester, who fought hard for possession and rode Loughborough hard when possession went against them. Manchester soon found the back of the net through the new American Steve Caditz, bringing the score to 2-2. Whilst the attack hard starting firing, it was Manchester’s defence that really separated the two sides. A superb check from defender Hasan Simeen led to a groundball challenge, from which the purples came out on top. On the break the midfield punished the Loughborough defence, finding attacker Jordan Rice for the 3-2 lead. Caditz soon followed with a second goal, with captain Sacha Stout finishing a superb solo effort right before the half time whistle. Manchester 5 – Loughborough 2.
Loughborough rallied in the third, scoring early through #11. However, the purples quickly replied through American face off specialist Zach Cecil, who put the goal difference back to 3. Loughborough then scored three goals in quick succession during a period of impressive attack. Goals going to #12, #11 and #20 respectively. Loughborough’s speed was evident as they broke with an extra man on multiple occasions. However, a number of vital checks, including a diving check from midfielder Zach Rooney ensured that few of these opportunities were converted into goals. In an attempt to disrupt Loughborough’s momentum and to allow the Manchester team to re-group, the only time-out of the game was called by DeFrancesco. This allowed the defence to recover and for fresh midfielders to come on. The time-out served its purpose and Manchester were able to reply to Loughborough’s goals through John Kemple’s cool finish, followed by Caditz completing his hat-trick with a huge outside shot that found the top right hand corner of the 6x6 goal.
The last 20 minutes was all Manchester, with Loughborough failing to find a way past man of the match keeper Tom Poffley. A solid and well organised Manchester defence worked Loughborough’s attack hard and it paid off as they had few meaningful attempts on goal. Stringer was able to complete his own hat-trick late in the fourth to push Manchester comfortably ahead. In the dying moments of the game midfielder James Bates attempted a crease dive goal, but was penalised for interference with the goal keeper. Moment’s later captain Stout picked up his second of the match to finish 11-7 to Manchester. Overall it was a solid performance from Manchester, with signs of serious promise in the attack. Manchester now look forward to hosting Sheffield midweek in their second friendly, although the derby relationship between the clubs will ensure there is nothing friendly about it.