UEA’s men began this year’s football season with a hard fought 2-0 win over Nottingham Trent at Colney Lane in their opening fixture of the new season.
After their promotion-winning exploits of last season, there was an air of anticipation surrounding how the team would fare at a significantly higher level of competition. This ultimately resulted in a slow start out of the blocks for their side as Nottingham Trent pressed relentlessly in the opening of the game. However, the physicality of UEA’s defense line was pivotal in negotiating through this period without any serious damage to the team.
They managed to find a foothold in the game after 15 minutes, with some lovely interplay between the two strikers on display, helping UEA connect the midfield and offensive unit. Progressive sequences of play were evident for prolonged periods by the home side, but they often struggled to maintain possession in their opponent’s half.
UEA were the dominant team from 20 minutes through to half time, but two golden opportunities were squandered. After some industrial play from UEA’s striker Ryan Swift, Luke Young headed over when a goal looked to be the most likely outcome.
Five minutes later, a shot was blazed over from close range after some enterprising work from UEA’s left wing back.
At half time, the fixture remained at 0-0, but it was competitive and seemed to hang in the balance with the better opportunities falling to the home outfit. Nottingham’s back three were struggling to deal with the partnership of Young and Swift up front, but it was apparent that UEA’s dominance needed to be cemented with a goal.
Both UEA and Nottingham opted to operate with three at the back formations, making this a possession-based fixture with both sides looking to play aesthetic but effective football.
It was a total of five minutes in the second half which determined the outcome of the game, with Swift being the major protagonist: his work was a major contributing factor in the opening goal. His close dribbling and changes in direction coupled with his physicality made him too much for Nottingham’s defence to handle. He weaved his way past two challenges before putting in a delightful low cross for Young to tap into the net, achieving the first goal.
From then on, UEA asserted their offensive dominance, constantly working openings and overloading the middle of the pitch so one of the strikers could drop in. Swift’s work for the first goal was replicated as the striker displayed great endeavour and unstoppable power before slotting beyond the keeper to double the home sides advantage.
Game management was key for the hosts – for the most part, they nullified the supply line to Nottingham’s front three. A red card was brandished for an off the ball incident in the 75th minute for the hosts who also saw their centre-back leave the field with injury which resulted in ten minutes added time.
Overall, it was an impressing outcome considering the increase of level in competition for UEA. Getting three points on the board in the opening fixture will provide them with the confidence they need to push on from here and attempt to harvest some upward mobility. In the end, that period of dominance in the second half of the game proved to be the difference between the sides in an entertaining contest.