The UEA Men’s 1s suffered their second successive league defeat, after failing to capitalise on a host of chances against Nottingham Trent at the Sportspark.
In an open first half that saw early chances for both sides, Trent took the lead after a shot was adjudged to have crossed the line before being cleared, despite the defenders’ protests.
It was perhaps the sense of injustice that spurred UEA into a period of possession and dominance. However, the play often broke down as they entered the final third of the pitch, with an extremely well organized Trent defence on form.
Goalkeeper Tom Esterhuizen was called into making a couple of sharp saves to keep his side in the game, with the match was very much in the balance at half time.
The second half proceeded much as the first half had finished, with UEA holding a lot of possession but failing to score, despite a flurry of short corners.
On a rare foray forwards, Trent doubled their lead. After a defensive mix up allowed the ball to roll past the centre backs and goalkeeper, a visiting forward found himself with the simplest of tap ins from close range. It was another poor goal to concede, and left most of the substantial crowd stunned into silence.
However, the manner in which UEA responded highlighted the teams fighting spirit. Despite the score line not reflecting the flow of play, the hosts rallied and for the remainder of the second period the play was almost exclusively in Nottingham Trent’s half.
The midfield duo of Max Baiden and Robert Turnbull began to find space to work the play wide, and Luke Corden’s runs from right half began to cause the Trent defence issues. However, UEA failed to create many clear cut chances as the space seemed to run out as they approached the opposition circle. Any shots that did make their way on target were comfortably dealt with by the Trent goalkeeper.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, UEA found virtually all ten outfield players in the Trent half as they pushed hard to find a way back into the game. Joshua Glass produced some moments of excellent skill to beat defenders and win short corners, but again these were not converted into goals. Short corners have proved important to UEA this season, with goals regularly following from their routines so far this season. However, the routines did not run smoothly on this occasion and none ever looked like troubling the visiting goalkeeper.
The full time score of 2 – 0 perhaps did UEA a disservice, as the quality shown in holding possession for prolonged periods of play was indisputable. However, their season long problem of not taking their chances when presented was their downfall.
Should this be adjusted, there is no reason why UEA cannot recover from a poor start and challenge for promotion. Winning the return fixture against Nottingham Trent is a very real possibility, and essential to UEA’s title challenge.