Always one of the most popular fixtures of any Derby Day, there was huge excitement around the Men’s Football this year. The early 10:30am start didn’t dissuade the crowds, but unfortunately the game was not in UEA’s favour.
The game started slowly with neither team managing to get through the opposition, bar a couple of free kicks being sent harmlessly way off target. The first big moment came when one of the Essex players received a nasty knock to the face when contesting the ball. He was on the pitch for a while, and was promptly substituted off whilst being led off the pitch by the medical staff – an unfortunate and premature end to his morning.
The rest of the first half produced a few good opportunities for both teams. UEA picked up a free-kick just outside the box, with the towering Richard Black heading the ball just wide. Essex picked up an identically positioned free-kick just minutes later due to UEA’s keeper Tom Smith handling the ball outside the box, but came to nothing. The final 10 minutes were incredibly cagey, with not much coming out of constant midfield battles. The frustration of both teams resulted in tackles flying in, with UEA’s Ryan Swift receiving a booking before the whistle went.
After the break the game sprung into life, with an early chance from UEA coming from a corner, but it was Essex who struck in the only goal in the first 10 minutes. A corner whipped in excellently by one of their standout players Rigers connected to the head of massive centre-back Max Matchett from only a couple of yards out, with jubilation from the travelling Essex fans.
The momentum from the away side kept going with chance after chance. Essex exposed weakness in the UEA team consistently but could not convert. It took until around the 80th minute for UEA to find sight of goal, with a couple of shots whistling wide. A corner produced the closest chance, with the ball looking to have slotted in from a header sending the UEA contingent wild, but it was just over the bar.
As the full-time whistle went, Essex celebrated strongly and overall perhaps deservedly. They were resistant to the UEA pressure, particularly at the end of the second half, but perhaps the scoreline was unfair on the good attempts from the home side.