Five Star MMU ease past Cumbria

Daniel Taylor

MMU 2nd XI 5-0 Cumbria

MMU made easy work of Cumbria University with a five-goal thrashing on Wednesday afternoon at Hough End Playing Fields.

The home side could have been ahead earlier than they were, but failed to find the target with an early shot that drifted across the face of goal, unfortunately no one could add the finishing touch. However, just as the visiting side were starting to find their way into the game, MMU took the lead. 

After good passing by the home midfield, a lofted through ball found its way to Kieran Lester who beat the out rushing Cumbrian Goalkeeper to the ball with a header from inside the box. Despite the ‘keepers best efforts to keep out the attempt he could only watch as his two handed tip wasn’t enough to keep the ball from bouncing into the net to give MMU an early lead.

Despite the early goal, Cumbria continued to find their way into the game, stringing passes together but they were left scratching their heads as no clear-cut chances were being created. They managed however, to create a few hopeful long shot opportunities, which ultimately came to nothing. Their lack of creativity, combined with a solid looking MMU back four, meant the visitors were not going to have an easy day if they wanted to get anything out of the game.

MMU captain Sam Fletcher had a good chance to double the lead after 20 minutes, but found his shot from the edge of the box go just wide. But as MMU started to press for a second goal, Cumbria started to create a few more opportunities of their own, and were unfortunate not to have equalised when a dipping half volley from the edge of the box dipped just a little too late and went over the bar.

The game, however, was still in the control of the home side, preventing their opponents from having any real periods with the ball, and will have been frustrated to have gone in at half-time only one up, with several chances falling their way. MMU’s chance of putting the game to bed in the first half was thwarted by a solid goalkeeping performance from the away goalkeeper. He kept out several attempts, particularly from set-pieces after being let down by some disorganised defending. One notable save being from a powerful half volley from 10 yards, which was well palmed away.

Despite their best efforts, MMU had to settle for a one goal lead at half time, which lead to captain Sam Fletcher telling his side that ‘they needed to make more of their possession and play better passes to create chances’. He also warned his team of the importance of dealing with Cumbria’s set-pieces as well as they had their open play.

The second half started just as the first had, with the home side dominating the possession early on, passing the ball around, exposing the opponents poor shape and communication, and it wasn’t long until they found the back of the net again.

After conceding a throw-in, Cumbria’s defence was all at sea as they failed to deal with the long throw. Despite their best efforts to get to the ball, Lester was in the right place at the right time as he scored his second from close range, leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb and losing any chance they had of clinching a result.

The game was now starting to open up for MMU, with Cumbria trying to push forward to find a goal that could give them hope. They were leaving themselves horribly exposed at the back, and could have been in serious trouble when the ball ended up in the back of the net again, only for it to be ruled by the referee for handball. This was a sign of things to come for the struggling visitors.

They did however start to find space to create opportunities, with MMU committing themselves to attacking to put the game out of reach, Cumbria finally started to test the MMU defence. After 55 minutes they finally forced the hosts goalkeeper into a double save, initially spilling the first effort from the edge of the box, he redeemed himself with a fantastic reflex save from close range, that proved to be their best chance of getting themselves back into the game. Following this, after some confusion in the MMU defence, Cumbria were again left kicking themselves as they failed to score with only the ‘keeper to beat.

Despite playing their way into the game, Cumbria were left frustrated by a resilient MMU defence, that despite losing their shape slightly as the second half progressed were still doing their job well. But it wasn’t long until the visiting side were left even more frustrated when they shot themselves in the foot to make matters even worse.

With his back to goal, Kieran Lester looked to turn the last man, but instead was brought down in the box as he attempted to find a way through. After the referee pointed to the spot, Ben Cullen was given the duty of dispatching from 12-yards, putting the ball in the bottom left corner. Despite the unfortunate Cumbrian keeper getting two hands to the ball, he could only watch as the ball found its way into the net.

Captain Sam Fletcher, just a couple of minutes later had a chance to make it 4-0 when he rounded the keeper, but couldn’t find the finishing touch from 8-yards as he found the ball caught under his feet, but he wouldn’t have to wait much longer to grab the goal his performance deserved.

 After some poor defending yet again from the Cumbrian back four, their goalkeeper was again left with the unenviable task of keeping MMU out again, but despite saving the initial shot from an MMU defender, he was left hopeless after the ball found its way to Fletcher, who’s deflected shot from 10 yards found its way into the back of the net, leaving the Goalkeeper livid with his indecisive defensive line.

The opposition Goalkeeper may have spent a considerable amount of time picking the ball from out of his net, but he was a genuine contender for man of the match after constantly keeping out shot after shot to keep the score somewhat respectable. The same could not be said for any of the back four however, who still couldn’t find their shape and presented the home sides midfield with a few more opportunities, one of note flew just over the bar from 20 yards.

The anger was starting to show, with some heavy challenges flying in, but MMU were happy to frustrate their opponents even more by playing the game at their tempo, not committing too much forward. Their all round great performance meant they couldn’t help but add another goal before the game was up.

With some great play down the right flank – which was evident all game – a great driven low ball was played across the goal and presented an opportunity for substitute Selassie Tevie, who added the vital final touch with an astute little chip over the outstretched arm of the Cumbrian goalkeeper from 6 yards to round off the scoring and a fantastic attacking performance for the home side.

Their clean sheet however, was almost left in tatters after a hopeful long range shot from a Cumbria midfielder found its way through the legs of the MMU goalkeeper, but he managed to recover the ball before it crossed the line to spare his blushes and give the home side cheer from both ends.

Cumbria will be left frustrated with the failure to find killer final balls, but it was all about MMU as they completed the job they set out to do, with the utmost conviction.

Meanwhile the MMU 3rd XI made it an extra satisfactory day after they saw off UCLAN 2-0.

They saw off the Preston based University side thanks to a first half penalty, whilst showing true class with a beautiful chip from outside the box in the second, to finish off their opponents, much to the delight of the animated MMU faithful in attendance.

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