In the first of three matches that will determine whether Loughborough Students Men’s 1st XI will be playing Premier League hockey next season Loughborough took on Cardiff and Met, West Conference champions, at the Nottingham Hockey Centre.
The team knew that it was going to be a tough test in a high pressure game and as a result it was a cagey affair in the early minutes. Loughborough were looking a little anxious throughout the first half as they settled into the game. This hindered Loughborough’s attacking play but they remained strong defensively to keep out some good Cardiff chances.
Toby Reynolds-Cotterill was in good form in goal keeping Loughborough in the match with some solid saves.
The teams went into half time at 0-0.
With the start of the second half Loughborough came out much stronger and started to play their natural game. This resulted in a penalty corner for Loughborough, which after two rebounds were well saved by the Cardiff keeper, Ed Horler got on the end of a loose ball and put it over the line to give Loughborough a 1 goal lead after 37 minutes.
The game opened up a little more with chances being created at both ends as Cardiff pushed for an equaliser. Cardiff were reduced to 10 men following a yellow card which allowed Loughborough to put more pressure on the Welsh outfit.
In the 54th minute Loughborough won another penalty corner which was duly dispatched by Luke Taylor to double the lead and give Loughborough that all important cushion.
Cardiff upped their intensity as they aimed to reduce the scoreline but the Loughborough defense held strong throughout led by Toby in goal making some important saves at crucial times.
With less than a minute some good skill by Ed Horler won a penalty corner for Loughborough. This then resulted in the final whistle being blown and gave Loughborough the win. There were 3 attempts to take the corner after a early break from Tom Bean and two re-awards, this was followed by a foul on the line by Cardiff meaning Loughborough were given a Penalty Stroke. Luke Taylor calmly stepped up and slotted the ball home resulting in a 3-0 win for the Loughborough team.
It was a good performance by the guys after a nervy start but they found their composure and came away with a huge 3 points.
In the other game of the playoffs Canterbury beat Richmond by 4 goals to 3 which leaves Loughborough at the top of the table after the first round.
The team now has a two week break before heading down to Lee Valley to take on Richmond on 16th April and Canterbury on 17th April.