Three stunning first-half goals secured Nottingham Trent University a comfortable 3-1 victory in the second of yesterday’s footballing action against University of Nottingham.
The men’s team made it back-to-back wins after Trent’s women beat UoN on penalties earlier in the day, edging the Varsity scores ever-closer with UoN holding an 8-6 aggregate lead.
It didn’t take a minute for the men in pink to take the lead, striker Arel Amu breaking the deadlock at the first opportunity – and in emphatic style.
Left-back Connor Bartle channelled a ball down the left flank which picked out the big forward; Amu flicked the ball over a defender before sending a delightful half-volley into the top corner with his laces.
Trent stamped their authority on the midfield from the off; Jerry Nash controlled the proverbial strings of the game, Jonny Coates broke up play and Joe Junkovic was a menace down the left flank.
The latter doubled Trent’s advantage from a similar position in the 17th minute.
Winger Junkovic arrowed an effort from the left side of the box from a throw which sailed over goalkeeper Keval Patel into the top corner.
Trent skipper Tom Hayes was forced to make a fantastic least-ditch challenge minutes later on UoN’s dangerous forward, Jeremiah Shonde, after a defensive mix-up.
Despite UoN coming strongly back into the game, Amu came close to scoring his second, the striker failing to control a pin-point, cross-field ball from Bartle from 12 -yards.
A minute before half-time Trent bagged their third, again from range.
Josh Rae curled a right-footed effort from 20-yards over Patel – who should have done better this time.
After the break UoN were the better of the sides and looked dangerous; full-back Matt Lane, in particular, produced a number of dangerous balls into the box which failed to pick out a man.
Trent keeper Harrison Fernandez-Lewis was made to work shortly before the hour mark, stopping an effort with his legs after Bartle’s slip was capitalised on by the opposing right-winger.
Despite increasing pressure from the uni of, Junkovic stung the palms of Patel from range, assisted by Rae.
UoN got the goal they deserved in the 69th minute, Shonde turned the ball into the roof of the net following a melee in the penalty area, following James Bessey-Saldanha’s ball in.
The goal proved a consolation for UoN and the last of the game, although Amu missed a glorious opportunity in stoppage time to add a fourth.
Speaking after the game, defender Connor Bartle admitted it was a good first-half performance and in the second Trent slacked-off – but they knew the game was won by half-time.
“It was a quick start within the first 30-seconds. Every lad put 100 per cent in, I think we only made one sub, and did a great job.
“It was disappointing to concede the goal, but to only concede one it was all right,” he added.
Joe Junkovic said it was the shape of the team and work-rate of the players which was vital – and that he didn’t think his shot was going in when he hit it.
“I thought it was going to go over, to be fair, but it just dipped in. I think it was a lucky goal, let’s call it that – I’m modest,” he added.