Photos: Zoe Bennell
Vanbrugh Women’s Football team dispatched Ustinov in imperious fashion, smashing six goals past the Durham Postgraduate College. A hat-trick from Savannah Green, a brace of penalties from Emily Eyres and a last minute goal from captain Maria Davies ensured Vanbrugh recorded an emphatic victory against a Ustinov side that had no reply to Vanbrugh’s skill and intensity.
The opening ten minutes was a cagey affair, with neither side able to retain possession for significant spells. A few smart saves from the Ustinov keeper meant the match was goalless until a bizarre mistake gave Vanbrugh a priceless opportunity. The Durham goalkeeper threw the ball overarm out to a defender but, as the ball went over head height, the referee had no option but to award a penalty. Up stepped Emily Eyres, who coolly slotted home the spotkick to give Vanbrugh an early lead.
Minutes after the opening goal, the whistle for halftime went. The Vanbrugh team were clearly relaxed, taking photos with Duck Norris, whilst the Ustinov side looked rattled and somewhat weary. The second half began where the first left off, with Vanbrugh in the ascendancy.
After a good save from Vanbrugh keeper Meg Phillips, she launched a long throw down pitch to an unmarked Savannah Green, who nutmegged the Ustinov keeper with a composed finish. The Durham side bounced back immediately, though, with a sweetly struck free-kick that just evaded the grasp of Phillips.
A tentative five minutes ensued, with neither side venturing forward with any real impetus. Maria Davies was playing like the great Franz Beckenbauer, delivering a virtuoso performance in the sweeper role, breaking up Ustinov attacks and then swiftly launching counter-attacks with pin-point passing.
At 2-1, it was clear the next goal would be vital, and it took a moment of magic from Green to swing the game back in Vanbrugh’s favour. After beating a defender for pace, Green fired a low shot into the bottom corner past the despairing Ustinov keeper. Just seconds afterwards, Green played a sumptuous one-two and leathered the ball into the net from close range. Green’s third goal, and Vanbrugh’s fourth, meant that the York side were cruising going in to the final five minutes.
The Vanbrugh team were clearly enjoying their football and playing with an air of confidence that ensured they regularly peppered the Ustinov shot-stopper. The Ustinov keeper again made a costly blunder, coming out of her box and thus gifting Vanbrugh yet another penalty. Eyres stepped up again, and calmly slotted home to make the score 5-1 to Vanbrugh.
In an exciting last two minutes, Phillips made a phenomenal save low down to her right to deny Ustinov a late consolation goal. In almost the late phase of the match, Eyres pulled the ball back to the edge of the box. Davies arrived onto the ball late and sent a thunderbolt of a shot past the Ustinov keeper, who was rooted to the spot. This last goal sent the large crowd into raptures, with chants of “Vanbrugh! Vanbrugh!” ringing through the Sports Tent.
As the final whistle went, Vanbrugh joyously celebrated an emphatic victory. Captain Maria Davies spoke to Vision after the match; “I’m so happy, everything went so well today. Savannah scored a hat-trick and everybody played brilliantly. It was pretty much the perfect performance; it was the best we’ve played all season. This victory also means that Vanbrugh have won all their games at Varsity!”
This enthralling match, which showcased the vast array talent of Women’s Football in the College system, will surely go down as one of the performances of the day from Team York.