In the second of ‘The Big Match’ sporting events Loughborough Women’s 1st Team Hockey took on probably their biggest rivals Birmingham University. History between these two great clubs dates back through numerous seasons with their most recent encounter being the BUCS finals last year in where Birmingham took the gold.
After a nervous start, the large crowd got behind the home side and provided a bit more much needed encouragement.
With both sides fielding a handful of internationals, the match had some great calibre and both teams fought hard to take control of the game. Loughborough had a tough first 15 minutes taking a lot of pressure but defended well with some tight marking. The home side began to come back into the game with a series of good passes creating some pressure in Birmingham’s half.
In an otherwise quiet first half, Birmingham had the first short corner just before the break, and as they are renowned for their well drilled routines it was surprising that with a straight strike the ball was hit wide, Charlotte Ellison with the excellent save.
Loughborough quickly reapplied the pressure and won the next short corner, which similar to Birmingham’s just moments before was well saved.
At half time the score remained 0-0 as the crowd hoped for a more exciting second half.
Birmingham made the perfect start to their second half linking some good passing phases together to create a two on one before slotting home the first goal of the match.
And it was only some great defending from goalkeeper Charlotte Ellison to prevent Birmingham doubling their lead after more slick passing from the visitors.
Despite Birmingham’s continued pressure on the Loughborough defence, Kate Maxey and Giselle Ansley provided some good balls to stretch the game up the pitch and provide Loughborough with a platform to build although they were unable to capitalise.
After some end to end play from both sides, Birmingham earned another short corner and this time, their training ground routine paid off and they extended their lead to 2-0.
In the dying minutes both teams looked tired and the game became scrappier in front of the goal but neither could find the back of the net.
Loughborough will take some positives from the game regardless of the result which should create more confidence in the dressing room. The club will certainly hope despite the disappointing score line this can still be the beginning of another great season for the club as they chase BUCS glory.