Men’s hockey I continued their strong start to the season with a comfortable 3-1 victory in the second round of the Midlands Conference Cup over the University of Coventry.
Despite the fact that Coventry are currently above UEA in the league, it was the home side that settled into the game the quickest, displaying the fast-paced passing game that has seen them win every game in their BUCS division so far this season.
It was from a well-rehearsed short corner that UEA took the lead, as Rob Turnbull’s drag flick was stopped six yards from goal, and Jordan Taylor calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner for his first goal of the season.
The lead was doubled within ten minutes, as Sam Coyne was the first to react to a loose ball in the D, and was able to stab home beyond the stretches of the Coventry keeper.
UEA proceeded to consolidate this lead with a spell of possession that saw extreme composure from the defensive four, as Coventry failed to escape from coach Pat Clyne’s infamous “spider web” of play.
It was unsurprising therefore that UEA scored again just before the half-time break, again from a slick short corner. Once again it was a Turnbull drag flick that was turned in this time by Merlin Smethurst running into the near post, his sixth goal of the season.
The second half however saw a swing in momentum, as Coventry came out determined to score early to try and inspire a comeback. And, after UEA squandered two early chances, the ever-widening gap between the defence and midfield was exploited as Coventry managed to find the center forward in the D who swept home past the otherwise extremely impressive Tom Esterhuizen.
Coventry came close to scoring again, but team captain Louis Preston was on hand to make a calm goal line clearance from a short corner, before Esterhuizen made a superb low save with his stick in the closing minutes.
UEA finished the game on top with a late flurry of short corners, and Joe Broadbent could have scored with almost the last touch of the game after calmly beating two defenders and the goalkeeper, but his shot was well stopped by the last man.
The final whistle marked the end of a game in which UEA had demonstrated their improvement as a side, especially regarding their short corner routines and ability to retain possession while under pressure. It was a win that left the captain Louis Preston happy.
He said: “It’s been a solid start from the guys in BUCS, and we managed to work as a team to take the form into the cup. We’re feeling confident about the next round.” And on the fact that it was a side in a higher division that was beaten, Preston added: “we were too good today.”
The team will now look to continue their strong league form, as they aim to gain promotion this season. They will face Nottingham Trent III in the last 16 of the cup, another side in the league above.
UEA next face an away trip to face the University of Staffordshire on Wednesday for another league game as they look to tighten their grip on the top spot in Midlands Division 3A.