Newcastle University men’s first team edged out their University of Manchester counterparts 1-0 on Wednesday afternoon at Cochrane Park.
Newcastle dominated early on and looked threatening from set plays, with frontman Olly Walker going close from a corner. It took another corner, nine minutes in, for the Royals to score what would turn out to be the only goal of the game – central midfielder Jake Dutton hammering in from close range after a mix-up the in Manchester penalty area.
Manchester responded well to going behind and grew into the game, looking more comfortable albeit still shaky in defence. Clear-cut chances for Manchester were non-existent however, and Newcastle’s dominance on set pieces and swift counter attacks continued to trouble the away side.
"Clear-cut chances for Manchester were non-existent"
Callum Horn thought he’d made it 2-0 in the thirty-first minute after more good work by Walker, only to be denied by the offside flag. Walker continued to trouble Manchester’s defence, along with right-winger Ollie Walden, and in the forty-second minute was played through on goal only to be hauled down by Manchester’s centre back.
An advantage allowed Walker to get his shot away, only for it to go wide and for the Manchester player to controversially escape with only a yellow card, despite being last man and arguably denying Newcastle a goal scoring opportunity.
The second half was disappointingly lacklustre. Manchester started the better of the two sides after the interval, putting together some decent passes in midfield and making use of their frontman’s strength and technical ability.
The game developed into one of few chances for both sides. Newcastle continued to look dangerous from corners and free kicks as well as remaining solid at the back in the face of Manchester’s spells of pressure.
"Newcastle continued to look dangerous from corners and free kicks as well as remaining solid at the back"
Walker and Pete Mairs both had chances for Newcastle, who responded to an improved Manchester side by introducing Josh Ferguson and Ben McCarthy around the hour mark. Despite an impressive cameo by Ferguson Newcastle were unable to fully replicate their attacking dominance of the first half.
Nonetheless, the Royals will be happy to walk away with a win and three points in the bag in their opening fixture of the BUCS Northern 1A division. Captain Scott Huntley said after the game; “We were a lot better on the ball, especially in the first half. Our defence held firm and played well, I don’t think they had any clear-cut chances.”