EUMHC – 1 (3)
Loughborough – 1 (5)
EUMHC 1s were cruelly denied a place in the BUCS Championship semi-final after losing their Varsity against Loughborough on penalty flicks. Exeter had led for most of the game but Jonty Griffiths sealed the high quality encounter with Loughborough’s fifth successful stroke, after the match had finished 1-1.
800 fans in a boisterous mood watched the club’s showpiece event under floodlights at the water-based astro, on a day that saw the Ladies 1s and Men’s 2s reach semi-finals.
Cup-holders Loughborough had chosen to flick first in the shoot out and after five unsaveable strokes, Exeter’s England Under-21 international Matt Richards thundered against the woodwork to give Loughborough the advantage. It proved to be the fateful moment, the visitors scoring their remaining two penalties to set up a tie with Birmingham.
Exeter had opened the scoring on 24 minutes via a diving Ali Williams, who sent the home crowd into delirium following great work by Captain Ed Fleet. Having won the ball in his own half, Fleet beat two men before cutting inside and feeding Williams, whose deflection crept past a stranded Ollie Quinn to take the lead.
With various junior internationals on display, the lively opening exchanges were just about shaded by the home side, with Mark Loughrey hitting the post from a short corner inside ten minutes.
The game had few clear goal scoring opportunities, but the technical ability on display was clear with Exeter’s defence looking composed and Richards showing flashes of brilliance. There were half chances for both sides with Luke Taylor going close from a Loughborough short corner and Tom Le Lievre shooting narrowly wide from a tight angle, but Exeter looked comfortable when the interval arrived.
Loughborough were reinvigorated in the second half and Exeter’s number one Mark Philpott was twice called into action to deny Robbie Shepherdson’s reverse stick shot superbly, before stopping Taylor from another corner minutes later.
Then came the break through, as Adam Clark latched onto a loose ball and fired into Philpott’s top corner on the half volley. Exeter battled on and the home crowd thought they had found a winner with five minutes to go, but the ball had been lifted in the D before Tom Whitworth’s strike and his goal was disallowed.
The closing stages proved tense for Exeter, who survived intense pressure and a late goal mouth scare before the final whistle and subsequent flicks consigned them to a four year winless streak in varsities.
Speaking after the game, Director of Hockey Chris McInroy saw the positives, commenting: “I am proud of the way the guys played, it’s been a hard season for us and that was a good fight.
“The boys fought well and I thought we could hold on for 1-0. We hit the post and one of their flicks was fairly ordinary, but that’s the deciding line – that’s sport.”
Captain Ed Fleet added: “It’s a really disappointing result, we gave away a weak goal but the boys probably deserved more. Loughborough are a quality outfit and if you let them back in the game, they’re always going to punish you.
“But I’m proud of the lads and how they performed and everyone who came down to support us at this amazing event, it’s fully appreciated by everyone.”
Harrison Jones, Editorbookmark me