EULHC’s 1s progressed to the semi-finals of BUCS with a dominant 2-0 victory over visitors Durham. Travelling back north empty handed, Durham must surely be wondering how they were unable to muster even a shot on goal.
From the onset, Durham were looking for width and were for most of the first half playing as Exeter’s equals. The hosts were quick to close down the visitors and stage their own counterattacking opportunities. Both sides were playing sensibly yet positively, not afraid to switch sides when needs be. 121 stole the ball in midfield but was unfortunate not to capitalise, instead committing a foul. Great covering play by 27 stopped what may well have been an opener for Durham, clearing the ball away from danger.
About ten minutes into the games, play had begun to break down and become messier, with poor control on both sides leading to a loss of possession and half chances. A positive passage of play saw 121 steal the ball brilliantly on half way, flicking it around her opponent before advancing on the opposition’s area. Durham’s defence did well to cover but 42 was making a nuisance of herself down the left flank, silkily dribbling to space and fashioning half chances.
However, half chances is all they were and as of yet there had been no real opportunities for either side to take the lead. The chances were increasing. 16 linked up well with 121 but was unable to find the final killer pass into the D. 11 was proving a stalwart in defence, making several key tackles to prevent Durham from advancing further.
The Varsity crowd had gone quiet, but were clapping their side on when 12 had the first shot of the game, skipping past two defenders before lashing her shot over the bar. The pressure was mounting; 161 showed good strength, turning her defender before playing in 42 whose touch was unfortunately too strong. 42 then showed fantastic skill to weave into the D and win her side a short corner. Going into the break, Exeter were in the ascendancy but needed something to show for it.
Exeter came out of the interval all guns blazing and 16 won a penalty corner off Durham’s defender. A well worked routine saw a good save off 161 but failing to clear the ball, 172/16 was on hand to scoop home from close range. Durham were mounting pressure of their own, but after the ball flashed in front of the Exeter goal, the hosts broke. 20 to 42 to 16 but the chance was squandered.
Durham were looking increasingly vulnerable, their passes becoming wayward. 121 intercepted well but her shot was matched by a fine save. Much to the dismay of their coach, Durham were issued a green card and presented Exeter with a real opportunity to put the game beyond their opponents.
Exeter were tackling and passing more proficiently and 129 intercepted once again and won a second penalty corner off the legs of the defender. 20 passed to 129 whose shot was well saved by the Durham keeper. 121 picked up in midfield, showing fantastic strength to dribble through her opponents and win a foul. With the hosts firmly in the driving seat, this was theirs to lose. Durham were looking ragged and Exeter had their tails up.
A loose pass in the D was closed down by Paloma who did fantastically well to win a third penalty corner. 16 passed to Bobbie, whose fierce shot found the net via a Durham stick. Durham were working to get something out of this but were being closed down at every opportunity by Exeter. The hosts were holding off and inviting the mistakes rather than diving in, much to the delight of their head coach.
Everything was going their way now. When Durham did break, 91 and her fellow defenders were on hand to sweep up. With the result now an inevitability, Exeter were full of confidence and feeding off Durham’s errors; 20 and 42 at the heart of much of Exeter’s positive play.
Exeter were making very few errors and 24 highlighted the team’s confidence, plucking the ball out of the air with skill before fizzing a pass up to the other end of the pitch.
The final whistle marked a fantastic result for the EULHC 1s who will now play Edinburgh at home. The Scots swept aside Cardiff 3-0, and should prove to be a sterner test than Durham. The Ladies are still unbeaten in BUCS this year and on today’s showing there’s no reason why they can’t extend their record.