The starting line-up deviated from its previous fixture with a few additions to the squad including Jake Hilton, Jack Hourican-Harvey and Tom Iaciofano with their debut starts this season. From the offset the tempo of the game was high with the first goal occurring just 10 minutes into play. Great build-up play from the scholars lead to the ball being switched out to Olly Davis on the left, who found the back foot of Connor Smith in the box – taking a great touch allowing the ball the settle, resulting in a powerful strike in the top far corner to put the scholars in the lead.
Despite the students taking the lead Aylestone didn’t settle off the pace. The next half an hour of game play continued to be fast and intense as a high standard of football persisted. Aylestone were eager for the equaliser but a great save from Hilton in the 26th minute denied them a chance of revival. As the match proceeded multiple discrepancies caused tension on the pitch between The Scholars, The Park and the referee, resulting in on-pitch confrontations temporarily interrupting the high-quality play from both sides. Disregarding the commotion, the scholars continued to push on as Kel Akpobire slotted the ball through to Smith on the edge of the box with a clear-cut chance to secure another goal just before half time.
More disagreements arose due to the players frustration at the referee’s inconsistency of decisions. This was made apparent to spectators from the uproar in the Aylestone dugout, following an unclear decision from the referee to put The Park down to 10 men. The half time whistle blew; a blessing in disguise for the players to recover from high tempo play and the on-pitch disputes that had occurred.
Despite Aylestone being a player down, both teams came back onto the pitch and settled back into the game to produce more quality football. After a great run into the box, a bad challenge in the 82nd minute saw Will Dawes on the ground and a penalty was awarded to the Scholars. The striker took the penalty himself and calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net after sending Aylestone goalkeeper Dawe the wrong way.
90 minutes of appealing football from The Scholars and The Park respectively, resulted in a proficient 3-0 win for The University Team to see them through to the second round of the FA Vase. The road to Wembley continues…
Aylestone Park FC: Dawe, Edwards, Phillips, Kirby (c), Wormleighton, Grassby, Sheffield, Hill, Armsden, Davoile, Holdom. SUBS: Webster, Bjelic, Hollyoak
Loughborough University: Hilton, Field, Davis, Townrow, Turner, Hourican-Harvey, Smith, Wilson, Akpobire, Dawes, Iaciofano. SUBS: Ferrinho, Stallan, Silva, Connor