Loughborough football firsts faced a tough battle against top of the table Stirling. A battling performance earned Loughborough a creditable 1-1 draw. However, the scoreline does not tell the whole story. Daniel Archer was at Holywell watching for Label Sport.
Stirling dominated the game from start to finish, hitting the woodwork an incredible four times during the match, so Loughborough will be delighted to have taken a point.
Stirling started brightly and created the first chance of the game after just three minutes. A good passing move on the right side lead to a teasing cross being whipped into the middle to the striker, but he could only manage to direct his header straight at the keeper.
The game burst into life in the eighth minute with the first goal of the game. Jack Poxon, who went close with an effort only moments earlier, received the ball with his back to goal 30 yards out, rolled his marker and unleashed an unstoppable left-footed shot past the hapless goalkeeper into the top corner to give Loughborough a 1-0 lead.
This was a welcome break for Loughborough, but the pressure kept coming from Stirling. They created another chance in the 12th minute, when a cross from the left was met by the Stirling midfielder, whose looping header came back off the crossbar.
The ball then fell to the centre forward, who with the goal at his mercy, smashed the ball straight at Ben Lancaster in the Loughborough goal. It was now a case of when not if Stirling would find the equaliser.
That equaliser came in the 20th minute. Stirling created an overlap down the right hand side, and when the cross came in it was only parried by Lancaster. The follow up was turned home by the striker for 1-1.
Loughborough needed a big performance in the last 70 minutes in order to get a positive result as Stirling had had all of the game apart from the magic moment from Poxon.
The best of the remaining efforts came in the 40th minute from Stirling’s centre forward. He managed to nutmeg centre back George Nash, entered the area and placed a delicate chip over Lancaster, only to see the ball bounce back of the crossbar for the second time in the match.
As the half-time whistle blew, Loughborough were relieved to go into the break at 1-1.
The second half began with Loughborough tweaking their tactics in order to stop the Stirling dominance.The tactic shift worked to the point in that they limited Stirling to only two chances of note in the second half.
The first of these chances came on 58 minutes when a powerful shot was turned behind for a corner by the impressive Lancaster. From the resulting corner the Stirling centre back managed to head the ball onto the crossbar for an amazing third time in the match.
The game then passed by with Stirling still dominating but not creating any clear-cut chances thanks to tough defending from Loughborough. The final chance of the game came Stirling’s way in the 93rd minute. A corner from the left was again met by the centre back, and for the fourth time in this game, Stirling hit the woodwork before it was cleared away as the full time whistle went, much to the relief of a tired Loughborough team.