UEL hold off Essex rivals
- Credit: Archant
BUCS football: UEL 4 Essex II 2
The University of East London’s men’s football team held off their Essex rivals for victory at Beckton District Park.
The two sides battled for midfield supremacy early on, with UEL having the first chance of the game in the 12th minute when Harry Mathews sent a pass across the net, but no one was there to profit.
Two minutes later, UEL’s Ousmane Kone beat a defender to the ball and opened the scoring, and the hosts controlled the rest of the half, led by Shahid Kasako, who dominated play.
Kasako went close with two long-range efforts but UEL doubled their lead on 30 minutes through Johan Caney-Bryan. But Essex got one back ten minutes later from a corner.
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With one minute left in the half, UEL nearly restored their two-goal lead as Darren Hammond sent a cross to Siao Levi Blackwood, but his shot was just tipped over by the Essex goalie.
Essex scored quickly at the beginning of the second half to level the game, much to the frustration of head coach Yas Abidou, who said: “I was a bit disappointed with the two goals [we conceded].
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“I think that was very sloppy on our part. We usually defend a lot better.”
A few minutes later, Dillon Stephenson sent a cross in front of the net, which was converted by Blackwood to restore UEL’s lead.
The rest of the game was a back-and-forth battle, with each side having several excellent opportunities to score.
And in the final minute of stoppage time, UEL’s Sam Cassell, who had come on several minutes earlier to replace an injured Mathews, scored a brilliant goal to give the home side a two-goal winning margin and their fourth win of the season.
“I’m very pleased with the win,” added Abidou.
“[I’m] quite pleased that after the first 15 minutes, which were quite sloppy, the football was probably the best we’ve played all season.
“I’m really pleased with how resilient the lads were, and kept fighting despite conceding the two goals.
“We’re quite athletic; the boys are very quick and technically they’re superior to most teams. I think that’s what gives us the edge.”
UEL will play Buckinghamshire New University seconds in the South Eastern Conference Cup at Beckton District Park next Wednesday (2pm).
And Abidou said his team is eager to continue with cup play.
“[We feel] good, excited,” Abidou said. “We won the cup two years ago. Last year we got knocked out in the quarter-finals.
“We’re going to try to get at least to the final, and hopefully go one step further again and win it.”