After an unbeaten start to the season, UEA dug in and displayed tremendous amounts of resilience to overcome adversity and record a 4-3 victory against Bedfordshire (third placed) at Colney Lane on Wednesday 31 October.
UEA were hoping to extend their unbeaten start to the league campaign which has seen them become the early pacesetters at the summit of the Midlands 3B division.
After last week’s draw at Oxford, they were hoping to harness some much-needed momentum to sustain a charge in the hope of mounting a promotion challenge. Admittedly, they had to ride a constant wave of Bedfordshire pressure at points, but their self-assurance, grit and tactical belief remained strong throughout the piece.
It was with their first attack of the game that they managed to break the deadlock.
Endeavour from UEA’s right back eventually saw the ball arrive at the foot of the winger before a spilled cross was put in by a Bedfordshire defender.
When you’re in a positive vein of form, luck is usually on your side.
The home side didn’t have it all their own way, however, with Bedfordshire having the better of the first half without testing the UEA goalkeeper for long periods. A key weapon within their arsenal arrived in the form of a long throw, which UEA defended efficiently, putting their physicality and aggression to good use.
Tactically, Bedfordshire were keen to overload the middle phase of the pitch. Operating with a compact 4-3-3, it was clear that Bedfordshire wanted to engage in a physical battle and break the game up as much as possible.
UEA found this hard to deal with following their first goal, and the connective link between the midfield phase and strike force was difficult to source, despite that opening goal.
More frustrating for UEA will be the manner in which they conceded the equaliser. After being defensively sound for a number of impressive long throw ins, they undertook a deep free kick that evaded everyone in the penalty area and ended up in the back of the net after a melee of players failed to make contact.
With a lot of the game being played out in the middle phase of the pitch, quality wasn’t evident in the final third.
There was an exquisitely executed free kick from the visitors that kissed the bar. Had that gone in, the complexion of the game could have altered significantly.
It was UEA who took the lead shortly after though, when a well-worked move ended with a low drive dispatched past the keeper. At this point in the game, it was firmly against the run of play but an accurate strike nonetheless.
From there the rhythm of the game altered.
Bedfordshire had to change the way they approached the game, the compact midfield witnessed previously became more expansive as they searched for an equaliser, leaving gaps for UEA to expose. They sourced a connection between the thirds and looked in comfortable control, signified by their third goal.
That two-goal advantage was one which they will be disappointed to have allowed slip, as Bedfordshire pulled the game back to three-apiece, but ultimately UEA’s character and togetherness ensured they nicked a win from the clutches of despair with a goal in the final minutes.
That is what good teams do.