My first match report on university football for Forge Press. It was cold…
Three goals in the last ten minutes saw Sheffield run out comfortable 4-0 winners against University of Leeds and pick up their first three points of the new campaign.
After gaining promotion last season by dropping just two points at home, Sheffield went into the game with confidence despite suffering a 3-1 defeat at Manchester last week. But the home side were noticeably relieved when midfielder Tom Bland smashed home an 82nd minute penalty to put them 2-0 up after a disjointed game, hindered by some questionable refereeing decisions.
With the play stretched and Leeds deflated, the tireless Tam Kitgrave twice broke in behind Leeds’ defence to add another two late goals. Having won the earlier penalty through sheer force of will after chasing down what seemed a lost cause, it was the least his endeavour deserved.
In truth, it was the piece of play that epitomised Sheffield’s performance. After dominating the first 15 minutes, Sheffield had to work hard to keep Leeds’ pacey front three at bay, who constantly threatened to break in behind the Sheffield defence.
The teams had seemed destined to go into half-time at a stalemate, before Sheffield took the lead on 40 minutes. A whipped corner from the impressive Eric Wedge Bull landed perfectly on the forehead of centre back Patrick Howard who made no mistake from five yards out.
Leeds enjoyed their best spell early in the second half, when Sheffield tucked their wingers Kitgrave and James Shields back into midfield to protect their lead, leaving striker Josh Thompson isolated. But Sheffield defended resolutely and restricted Leeds to only half chances.
The game grew increasingly fraught as Leeds searched for an equaliser, and much of their ire was directed at the referee. His display was best described as inconsistent, after bringing the play back for seemingly minor infringements but taking no action after several crunching challenges.
The angrier the Leeds players became, the less effective their attacks seemed to be. Sending their vocal centre back Jason Pilkington further forward left gaping holes which Kitgrave gleefully exploited in the closing stages.
Without ever really dominating, Sheffield gained a handsome victory through their doggedness and determination. Going into next week’s home game against Liverpool John Moores, they will feel confident they can make their mark at a higher level.