UEA Football Club are enjoying one of the best seasons in their history, and hope to put the icing on the cake with victories on Derby Day and in two local cup finals.
The men’s first side wrapped up the Anglian Combination Division 1 title on Easter Saturday with an emphatic 4–0 victory over Kirkley and Pakefield Reserves at Colney Lane.
UEA have been in devastating league form in the run up to Derby Day as they swept to the league title, scoring seventeen in their last four games without conceding.
They beat North Walsham and Watton on the road 7-0 and 4-0 respectively, most recently defeating Yelverton 2-0 away in their final league fixture of the season.
The day after Derby Day, the 1s are in cup action at the FDC, Bowthorpe, in the final of the Mummery Cup against Long Stratton where they hope to add more silverware to their BUCS and Anglian Combination league titles.
To that end, UEA Head of Football Paul Neary’s team selection for Derby Day is anyone’s guess, with the former Downham Town manager keeping his cards close to his chest as he prepares for the culmination of a highly successful first season in the UEA hotseat.
With the success of UEA’s reserve team, however, whatever side UEA field will be a competitive one as they look to complete a successful season with two showpiece wins in two days.
UEA reserves play tonight in the final of the CS Morley Cup, also at the FDC, Bowthorpe (kick-off 7:15, admission £3/£2 concessions). After securing mid-table finishes in BUCS Midlands 3B and in the Anglian Combination Division 4 with several more games to play in the coming weeks, the reserves will be hoping to add to the club’s trophy haul by defending their title from last season, when they came from behind to edge out Dussindale Rovers 2-1 after extra time with an equaliser from Jody Scowcroft in injury time added to by a Dan Campfield strike in the additional period.
The last two Derby Days have resulted in a pair of scrappy 1-0 wins for UEA, with Alfie Draper netting the last time Derby Day was in Norfolk in a game marked by a series of risky challenges in front of 200 Colney Lane spectators. Last year, UEA came home from Colchester with the win secured by a goal from towering centre-half Richard Black despite filthy weather conditions which made the surface a challenging one for both sides.
One of UEA’s main strengths this campaign has been their free-flowing attacking moves. UEA’s headline-grabbers this season have been the attacking partnership of Luke Young and Ryan Swift, who have established an almost telepathic understanding on the pitch, bagging dozens of goals and assists each.
However, UEA are just as strong at the back. Captain Ben George and the aforementioned Black have been superb in defence this season, with the pair also able to pop up with important goals like Black’s famous Norfolk Senior Cup winner over Kings Lynn Town. Both made the South of England Universities team, with former Kirkley and Pakefield player George selected for the full England Universities side for this summer’s home internationals. They tend to play in a solid formation with three centre-halves and a pair of wing-backs through whom UEA tend to channel much of their attacking impetus, to devastating effect.
Another player who has been a particular revelation this season is goalkeeper Tom Smith, a superb shot stopper who has grown immeasurably in confidence. If Smith and his defence play like they have done this year, the reliable keeper has a good chance of keeping up the tradition of a Derby Day clean sheet.
The blues have experimented with their midfield in recent weeks, after losing midfield lynchpin James Baughurst to Diss Town. However, the newly introduced players like Tomasz Siemienczuk have proven themselves more than capable replacements. The tenacity UEA have had to show in their local league campaign against physical adult teams alongside BUCS fixtures will stand them in good stead for Derby Day, where many of the team matches across the sports are decidedly more physical and fiesty than regular university league fixtures.
Football is traditionally one of the best supported sports on Derby Day, and few would bet against another win for free-scoring UEA to send the fans home happy.
Elsewhere, the UEA women’s Football team have announced their squad for Derby Day.
UEA’s women’s sides don’t enjoy the local league runouts of their male counterparts, however the Derby Day squad will be hoping to provide more cause for celebration after the second team secured second place in a tight BUCS Midlands 4A division.
The lack of local league fixtures for UEA does not stop the team’s stars from getting plenty of playing time. Several players including prolific striker Kathryn Stanley also play for Norwich City Ladies, who recently beat rivals Ipswich in another Derby Day, and many of the team can also be seen turning out for UEA Futsal.
Recently, Millie Daviss was nominated for UEA’s Sportswoman of the Year for her efforts with women’s Football and Futsal which could add gloss to a great week for the club when the UEA Sport Awards are announced next Friday.
UEA’s women will be looking for a repeat of last year’s 4-2 Derby Day win in Colchester, and with a number of game-changing players named in the women’s squad, hopes are high for a double Derby Day win for Football.
UEA women’s Football Derby Day squad: Emily Cockrill (GK); Charnelle Riggall, Charlotte Walker, Sofia Serghiou (C), Kayleigh Robb; Alice Collins, Amber Guyatt, Millie Daviss, Jacki Zavala, Holly Walker, Hana Adler, Rebecca Carver; Kathryn Stanley, Maddy Pitt, Holly Connell.
Kick-off is at 10:30 at Colney Lane for men’s Football and 16:30 for women’s Football.