Lions tamed by students.

A trip south on the busy M1 full of commuters hurrying home lead me to Loughborough University, one of the top ten university’s in the UK, to see Loughborough Students play.

I was here last year to see one of their FA Vase matches when they went all the way to the semi-final, this year they were eliminated at their first hurdle.

I had come to meet up with my daughter, to see how they are maintaining an unbeaten league season and enjoy the great facilities they have.

Luckily it was a dry evening considering the recent rain and at 8 degrees was a good night to watch football. The beautifully flat grass surface was beginning to wear on the touch lines and there were marks on the pitch where the teams had warmed up.

Heanor have a long history being formed in 1883 but other teams pre-date this in the town. They missed being elected to the Football League by 3 positions when playing in the Midland League and did well in past FA Cup matches only losing to teams like Aston Villa, Southampton, Bury and Nottingham Forrest. Most of their football has been played in local and midland leagues but spending just over the last decade in the United Counties.

Loughborough students trace their history back to 1919 under the name of Loughborough Technical Institute later to become a Technical College and then a University. They have won many University competitions but it was in 2007 that they moved into the Non-league sphere of today. The University Stadium was opened in 2012 and they were moved into the United Counties League in 2019 with the major league re organisation. For this season they have appointed Rebecca Sawiuk as Director of Football who is maintaining the growth of the men’s and women’s teams.

Loughborough Students FC 5 Heanor Town 1

Tuesday 22nd Novbember 2022 19.45 pm kick off

United Counties League Premier Division North 1st v 4th Students v Lions

Loughborough Students: Shirts with pink shoulders graduating into purple body and shorts.

Heanor: Ready orange shirts and shorts.

Loughborough immediately set the pace of the game but it was a mistake in the Heanor defense that gifted them a goal on 8 minutes giving Anthony Lynn time to draw the goalkeeper and place the ball past him for the lead. The students pace and passing kept up the pressure and they scored their second goal after 22 minutes when two or three rebounds from shots meant the ball fell to Ethan O’Toole who blasted it home from close range.

Ethan had his second 6 minutes later when he found himself wide on the right in the penalty area but was able to hit the ball across the goalkeeper into the left hand corner of the net. The Students maintained their slick play and although Heanor did have some chances they failed to take them.

Immediately at the restart with Loughborough in a commanding three nil lead Heanor pressed forward and secured a corner. The ball was swung in from the right just under the cross bar and although it seemed the keeper had it in his hand the ball was bundled over the line by the Jack Dando of Heanor. Despite protests from the home side the goal stood.

Heanor pressed more in the second half and used the high ball to challenge the keeper from corners and free kick. At the other end chances were kept out by some heroic goalkeeping but he was unable to keep out a missile of a free kick from just outside the penalty area by Matty Bowman for a 4-1 lead at 58 minutes. Both sides now had more chances but it was Matty Bowman again who showed class with a through ball to Dylan Edwards who calmly rounded the keeper to give the students a convincing 5-1 win.

There were numerous chances for both sides in the game and on chances it could have been 12 – 7, many of the home team players shone out on the night in a very competent team performance but my player of the match was the Heanor goalkeeper.

As I knew there would be no no chips so I had a vegan sausage roll and a coffee, pictures tell all.

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