UEL put up a brave but ultimately futile resistance as they were swept aside by a dominant Imperial, losing 9-1.
Goalkeeper and vice-captian Grant Shepard was still upbeat afterwards saying: “We know that if we were going forward that we have the players, we are threatening, and we can score, but also defensively we’ve taken a lot from this, we can be solid at times if we work together.”
The day began badly for UEL as they were only able to field 10 men, and no substitutes, meaning the pressure was on right from the start, Despite this UEL started well and were determined to record an away victory in the first cup game of the season.
Both teams were holding possession equally, but Imperial were slowly building the pressure. Right from the start Shepard and defender Ho Fung’s performance was on top form, both sharing input on saving the first penalty corner.
However, in the seventh minute Imperial scored their first goal. Two minutes later Imperial’s number eight ran the ball in from the left and crossed it straight into the bottom right-hand corner. On 19 minutes Imperial scored again.
Looking up for UEL
Despite this deficit, communication was very strong and consistent for UEL’s side. After multiple attacks from Imperial, keeper Shepard was in and out of the goal trying hard to not concede again. Assistance was provided by defender Elliot Taylor but he and his teammates couldn’t stop Imperial from scoring again.
In the 25th minute UEL got a break through and Josh Gwilliam scored what was to prove their only goal, Philip Wilson providing the assist.
Close to the end of the first half there were worries for UEL as Tim Li took a fall to the floor but he got back up fighting. Due to having only 10 players and no substitutes UEL could not afford for any players to sustain an injury.
Just before the final whistle Imperial scored another two goals.
UEL walked off the pitch with their heads down but an inspirational team talk from Captain Isaac Charles set new game plan and gave the boys in blue the boost they needed to get their head back in the game for the second half.
Within the first five minutes, however, Imperial received a penalty corner and scored their sixth goal.
Wilson created many goal opportunities and displayed great skill and stick work but it wasn’t enough for the team to come together to score any more goals in the game.
The second half saw majority of the balls possession played in Imperial’s favour leading to three more goals; one coming off an impressive spin from Imperial’s number 10.
The game ended 9-1 to Imperial, meaning that UEL will not be going through to the last 16 round of the South-Eastern Conference Plate.
After the match Shepard said, “We played well defensively, the result isn’t what we wanted. It will always be a hard game with a lack of numbers but overall they put the effort in and that’s all I can ask for today”.
The boys will now put their focus onto their next game against UCL 6th (RUMs) on Wednesday 15th November.