[Matt Creasey | Contributing Writer]
More eagerly-awaited than the much speculated summer signings of Louis Van Gaal, Manager of Manchester United Football Club, was the sound of the whistle being blown at 1.15pm on Wednesday 22nd October 2014 at the New Generation Turf Pitches on the deHavilland Campus in Hatfield, to signal the beginning of a new season for UHCampusFootball.
After an incredibly successful ‘Get into Football Day’ on Wednesday 15th October that saw somewhere in the region of 200 footballers take to the “New Gen” pitches, all with the aim of impressing team captains and being asked to join an existing team. There were a number of strong outfits taking to the field of play and organisers have said they’ve never been more excited to see a season of CampusFootball get underway. And boy did it live-up to expectation!
Dixie Normous vs Herts of Midlothian 1-1
On paper this was set to be a great match between two well-established sides and looked to be an incredibly exciting prospect, tipped as “the one to watch” if one was looking for excitement, slick football and, most importantly, goals. Unfortunately all of the hype and anticipation from the fans watching was clearly felt by all of the players, who were unable to respond positively and played out to a woeful draw full of misunderstanding, arguing between players, and late tackles.
It was a match where tempers could have quite easily have boiled over, but referee Jordan Marin kept control of the game very well and ensured that it was played within the rules.
Dixie Normous started the game with a solid formation and were very organised throughout the first half, they managed to pass the ball around well for short passages of play but didn’t manage to create any chances or attack with venom. Their organisation paid off late on in the first half when they were testing out the Midlothian goalkeeper; a shot was fired-in from the left side of the penalty box and the goalkeeper was unable to clear his lines at the first attempt, getting the ball tangled around his feet, and it bobbled straight out into the path of the Dixie right-winger who, doing his job of arriving late at the back post, slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the unguarded near-post. A well-deserved opening goal.
The second-half spelled a much different story for Dixie; whose shape fell apart with the re-shuffling of Midlothian’s formation, pushing Lee Rix out of the heart of defence and into the middle of midfield, where he patrolled and successfully snuffed-out almost any attacking threat that Dixie posed. As a result, Midlothian were able to attack more in the second half and made the most of this by gradually building up pressure and using set pieces to their advantage, what with the aerial presence of both Rix and Jordan Coleman. After less than 10 minutes of the restart they were back on level terms. Utilising this threat they posed from set plays, Midlothian skipper Alfie Jackson floated in a corner that was met by an unchallenged Rix who headed the ball back across the face of the goal and off the post. The ball then fell to a luckily positioned George Thomas, who was able to volley it home from 6 yards despite the traffic in the goalmouth.
The game then fizzled back down again after the goal, both teams confined each other predominantly to the middle third of the pitch, Midlothian looking for cross-field passes or through-balls to set their forwards free but it was not to be the case.
A notable mention must go out to Lee Rix of Herts of Midlothian, whose second half performance in front of his defence, and header that provided the equaliser, was excellent, despite the fact that a number of his challenges were on the verge of attracting attention from the articles in the referee’s pocket. For the opposition the key man was Jordan Ndoli, wearing the unlucky number 13 shirt. Had it not been his unlucky day being marked by Rix for the second half, he could well have produced a goal.
Both teams have some work to do on the training ground before matchday two, however, they will be pleased to have points on the board after what was, by both teams’ standards, a disjointed performance.