The University of Manchester secured their place in the BUCS Hockey Trophy final with a close 1-0 victory over Newcastle University at the Armitage.
The team went into the match already having won the Northern 1A division, in which they played Newcastle twice, winning once and drawing their second match.
Despite the fact that the two teams knew each other well, there was still a distinctively cup tie feel about the match with both teams showing lack of quality during the opening exchanges.
Although Newcastle’s slick passing seeming to cause problems at first, it was Manchester who came closest to breaking the deadlock with Osbourne firing just wide before Plummer’s shot was well saved from a penalty corner.
However, much of the first half was a disjointed affair, with free hits a constant occurence as both sides struggled to gain control.
The goal the game desperately needed came in the 28th minute. A hit from Clemenson was played to Osbourne, who turned the on Newcastle defender before sliding it underneath the oncoming goalkeeper.
Manchester started to turn the screw after taking the lead. Another shot at the Newcastle goal strayed agonisingly wide, before the Newcastle goalkeeper made an excellent excellent diving save from a Plummer shot.
Newcastle picked themselves up for a last attack on the Manchester goal before the first half drawn to a close; however, the defense coped excellently with anything that was thrown at them. Before the half was finished, Stateford managed to release Douley who found Radcliffe in an excellent position in front of goal; unfortunately, he was unable to control the pass and the ball ran out of play, ending the first half.
It did not take long for Manchester to find their rhythm in the second half with Osbourne having a shot saved with only two minutes on the clock.
Much of Manchester’s play in the second half came from the outstanding Capper. Every aspect of his game in the second half was excellent, setting up three chances in as many minutes by playing great passes to Plummer and Mullholland before one of his runs ended in gaining Manchester a free hit. Despite the early Manchester dominance they were still unable to break the deadlock.
Ten minutes into the second half, however, it appeared that the deadlock had been broken from a penalty corner. First Trent hit the crossbar then Mulholland’s attempt was blocked before Dutoy finished. Initially it appeared as if the goal had been rewarded and the teams were ready to kick off again, however, after consultation with his second official, the referee ruled the goal out.
In truth a goal would have ended the game as a contest, but despite the fact it was dubiously disallowed, Manchester did not let it dishearten them, keeping the pressure on Newcastle to the extent that Newcastle’s team had only one venture into their opponent’s D and it took until 20 minutes from time for this to happen.
The match ended in one final attack from Manchester with Osbourne breaking with a two on one overlap. He cleverly released the extra man but he was fouled by the Newcastle striker, gaining a free hit which eventually came to nothing.
The final whistle went and, despite the early problems, Manchester had totally dominated Newcastle to book their place in the BUCS trophy final and give themselves a great chance of completing a league and cup double.
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