Cambridge survive another goalmouth melee. Will Robinson

Cambridge University Hockey Club Women’s Blues’ BUCS struggles continued into the new season, as they slipped to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Cardiff University.

In what was a more even-sided game than the eventual scoreline suggests, Cardiff capitalised on the Blues’ early mistakes to condemn Cambridge to a 16th consecutive regular BUCS season game without a win: a run that stretches back to the beginning of February 2017.

In crisp, autumn conditions at Wilberforce Road, Cardiff started the match at breakneck speed, going close from a penalty corner after just three minutes; much of their warm-up had focussed on penalty corner routines, and it would prove worthwhile as the game progressed. A minute later and they were ahead, again from a penalty corner, with a well-placed shot finding the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

“The result, whilst a disappointment for Cambridge in their efforts to improve on last season’s BUCS campaign, will not define the opening weeks of the new season”

Cambridge refused to bow to the early setback, pressing Cardiff on the ball and forcing early errors, and they could have equalised soon after; a tremendous interception and run from Lucia Corry created the space she needed to try and pick out a teammate in the D, but the Cardiff defence did enough to deflect the shot wide.

The Blues kept knocking on the door of the Cardiff defence with three consecutive penalty corners, and had the ball in the net only for a minor infringement to prevent the goal from standing. Cardiff’s attacking threat was ever-present, however, and winning the ball back from Cambridge’s penalty corner, they broke upfield at terrific speed, and came close to snatching a second.

As the half progressed the match began to settle into a rhythm, with Cambridge seeing a lot of the ball, but struggling to contain Cardiff’s pace in attack. The play was often scrappy, with neither side wanting to make the mistake that would allow a chance to get a shot on goal.

Having contained the threat relatively well since falling behind early on, a lapse in concentration from the Cambridge defence allowed a quick Cardiff attack to enter the D. Despite the best efforts of the Blues’ goalie, the chance was converted, to put the visitors two goals to the good.

The game got increasingly scrappy as time wore on.Will Robinson

Cambridge were visibly rattled, and gave the ball away almost immediately from the push back. This allowed Cardiff to stay on the front foot. Having survived the first Cardiff penalty corner, the second was deflected goalward by the Cardiff attacker from barely a yard out, leaving the Blues’ goalie with no chance. It increased the visitors’ lead to a three-goal margin with almost 15 minutes of the half remaining.

The Cardiff onslaught showed no sign of letting up, and fatigue was beginning to set in amongst the Cambridge players. Three successive penalty corners were desperately defended, but misplaced passes and high Cardiff pressing prevented the Blues from escaping their own half. With Cambridge penned in, a buoyed Cardiff midfield began to control possession, winning their fifty-fifty challenges across the field and forcing the Blues’ midfielders, led by captain Hattie Bevan, to drop deeper in support of their defensive team-mates.

Cardiff again went close from a penalty corner in the final action of the first half, before the umpires’ whistles allowed Cambridge the chance to regroup.

The second half began much as the first had ended, with the visitors netting from a penalty corner just four minutes in. Left in acres of space on the far side of the D, the Cardiff attacker was allowed to shoot low to the goalie’s right-side, making the score 4-0 with over half an hour to play.

Rather than capitulate however, Cambridge were determined to maintain their pride, and their energy duly increased in response. Slicker passing and higher pressing forced mistakes in the Cardiff side, and soon enough brought its rewards, as a well worked move from a free hit just outside the D resulted in a consolation goal 25 minutes from full-time, tucked in by Blues’ forward Olivia Shears.


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The final third of the game was not lacking in intensity, but scrappy infringements and fatigue on both sides saw both teams reduced to ten men on two occasions, with neither side able to make use of their numerical advantage. Both sides went close with half-chances, but Cardiff’s better first-half performance meant that any hope of a comeback for the Blues’ had long faded by the time the umpires brought the game to a close.

The result, whilst a disappointment for Cambridge in their efforts to improve on last season’s BUCS campaign, will not define the opening weeks of the new season, with a 5-0 victory over Sudbury in the East League Division 1 North, kick-starting their efforts to gain promotion back to the East League Premier Division. Having lost to Cardiff both home and away last season, their next chance for revenge will come in Wales on 7th November.

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