Leeds University men’s football 1st XI secured the bragging rights over Varsity football by a convincing 3-1 victory over Leeds Beckett on a pleasant afternoon at Weetwood. The Uni side avenged the 8-0 drubbing they received in last year’s fixture and the fact a new look Beckett side are two divisions above Uni will give the first team a boost as they seek promotion in their BUCS league.
The match was hugely competitive and a cagey affair from the first whistle, with strong challenges flying in from both sides. Possession changed hands multiple times in the centre of the park, however Uni had the better of the early chances with a couple of headed opportunities that failed to trouble Beckett keeper Hargreen.
Beckett began to venture forward towards the 15 minute mark, with their forward players looking dangerous. However, Leeds Uni’s quick breakaway and a sloppy defensive header from Beckett put in pacey striker Dan Cunningham in to give Uni the lead on 16 minutes with a sublime side-footed lob over Hargreen.
This livened up Uni and the side had an excellent spell of intricate and accurate passing on the half hour mark. Uni had a great chance to increase their tally from a set-piece. However after a goalmouth scramble the shot from the Uni striker blazed over the bar. Shortly afterwards, Captain Mike Stockdale also had a powerful shot well saved by the keeper. Uni didn’t have to wait long though to double their lead. On the stroke of half-time, skipper Stockdale’s shot from an acute angle hit the post and the resultant rebound forced a great save from Hargreen, but he could do nothing about midfielder Archie Christie’s close range header into an empty net.
After going further in arrears, Beckett seemed to be increasingly frustrated and it became a challenging match to referee, with the crowd also making their feelings heard. Beckett responded brightly in the second half. However they were nearly undone by a Leeds Uni counter-attack early on. Some erratic goalkeeping from Hargreen presented Archie Christie an opportunity for his brace, but his lob from 35 yards just missed the target.
As both defences strengthened and proved hard to penetrate, both sides had a succession of long range efforts that failed to find the target. In the last twenty minutes the Beckett striker was bundled over in the area and the referee pointed to the spot. Midfielder Dan Tings stepped up and despatched the spot-kick to give Beckett a glimmer of hope.
However, all this pressure was ultimately in vain. Leeds Uni’s Cunningham was brought down on the edge of the Beckett box for which the referee gave advantage and skipper Stockdale seized the opportunity to slot home past Hargreen to seal the victory for his side, sparking wild celebrations from students and players alike.
First Team Coach Stephen Grime told the Gryphon that he was pleased with his side’s performance against what on paper was a superior team, but now his focus will be on promotion in BUCS.
“It’s really pleasing that they executed the plan that we have been working on in pre-season, obviously Varsity is a lot more important to the students than the coach….we see it as another pre-season game for the BUCS …… Leeds Beckett are two leagues higher than us and in running out 3-1 winners in the end I can’t be any happier.”