VARSITY 2014: Football

Men’s Football

by Joe Benton

Photo – Chris Howells

Aberystwyth showed passion and class to beat Bangor 2-1 whilst playing the majority of the match with only 10 men.

A lightning fast start from Aber showed weaknesses in the Bangor defence early on with Tom Court rapidly closing down the opposition, giving them no time to play. It was a dominant opening and Aber looked like a side that appreciated the meaning of their captain’s last varsity, contesting and often winning any 50/50 chances.

It was clear that the game at the hallowed Blandaloeu playing fields had a spicy atmosphere with both teams eager to show their physical presence early on. Bangor linked together several short passes leading to a shooting opportunity which was keenly closed down by Ben Jenkins who came into contact with both ball and man. Referee Mikey Brason, obviously not wanting to show a home side bias, deemed the challenge illegal and gave a straight red. A shocked Jenkins took the dubious red card well whilst the fans vocalised their thoughts on the seemingly harsh decision.

Already filled with the passion deserving of the yearly derby, the sending off had a clear effect on the Aber players. They were riled up and energy levels all over the pitch reached new heights. Mathew Perry showed why he’s captain of Team Aber with great control on the ball and superb distribution.

Continued pressure from Aber lead to a free kick on the ride hand side. The experienced Dave Daley stepped up and whipped in a superb ball which was well met by Tom Sparks who placed it in the back of the net, much to the jubilation of fellow players and spectators. An assured Aber looked well worth their 1-0 lead and closed out the first half with composure and hardly seemed a side down to ten men.

With the second half underway, Aber continued their strong performance with Bangor showing no real signs of a goal. About 30 minutes of much more cagey football passed with limited chances for either side until Ryan Devlin played a superb through ball to Tom Sparks who deftly finished for his second and a 2-0 lead. The atmosphere was electric and it was clear that Aber wanted this victory more than their Mid Wales counterparts.

A rare break from Bangor late on in the game lead to a powerful strike on goal which was bravely blocked by Perry. Successive saves from the Aber keeper eventually left the ball at the Bangor number 11’s feet who took his opportunity, and side footed into the goal making it 2-1.

With the goal coming late and aber showing real composure, Bangor had no more chances for an equaliser. The final whistle blew and 90 minutes of exciting and enthralling football were over with Aberystwyth the deserved winners of the 2014 Varsity men’s football match. Captain Perry told ASM, “first time we’ve beaten Bangor in Varsity and it feels amazing. So proud of the lads.” Excellent support from the fans and a superb attitude on the pitch meant that this will be one to remember for Aberystwyth and a long journey back for Bangor.

Women’s Football

by Dave Webber

A brace from Tash Hill and another from Grace Ticehurst secured a 3-0 victory for Aberystwyth over Bangor in the women’s football. The game started at a slow pace with both teams struggling in the windy conditions, and in the opening exchanges both sides seemed unable to string together any sort of sequence of passes.

Shooting opportunities were restricted to long distance shots which did little to challenge either keeper. Midway through the first half it was Aberystwyth who started to dominate with a succession of corners followed by some brilliant combination play between Niamh Murphy and Holly Marshall that opened up the Bangor defence. Bangor weathered the storm, however, and as the half progressed, began to develop their own attacking play, although both teams were plagued by an inability to make the right decision on the final pass.

The second half started much like the first one had finished, with neither team controlling the game so perhaps it was unsurprising that the first goal came the way that it did. A Bangor goal kick failed to clear the first line of players, and was intercepted by Grace Ticehurst who played the ball wide to Tash Hill. Stepping inside she fired a cross-come-shot which seemed to confuse the Bangor goalkeeper who failed to react and the ball nestled in the bottom corner.

Lifted by breaking the deadlock, Aber took control of the game and continued to put pressure on Bangor in and out of possession. Winning the ball high up the field after good defensive work allowed Tash Hill to get her second, a 30 yard screamer into the top right that was too powerful for the Bangor keeper to stop despite getting a hand to it.

A mix up in the Bangor defence allowed Grace Ticehurst to get in and poke home the third goal with twenty minutes to go. Bangor could muster nothing more than long shots in the last 20 minutes which Chelsea Maiklem in the Aber goal had no problem dealing with and Aberystwyth easily saw out the remainder of the match.