In a season that has been marred all too often by frustration and set backs Glasgow University hockey managed to haul their campaign back on track with an emphatic victory over a beleaguered Ayr side at the Garscube.
Glasgow started off the brighter of the two, yet struggled early on to find the break through that their territorial dominance deserved. They spent large spells of the first period camped in the Ayr half, yet consistently saw intricate build-up play thwarted by a failure to make the final killer pass. It has been very much the story of Glasgow’s season; attractive attacking hockey coupled with a failure to finish.
Glasgow’s intensity however soon paid off. They were awarded a short corner and after some intelligent interplay between Euan Miller and Finlay Horn, the captain was on hand to lash in past the helpless keeper.
Ayr offered little in the way of attacking strength, and were guilty of far too regularly turning to the optimistic long ball as they attempted to penetrate the resolute University defence. The Glasgow back four were largely spectators throughout the match, as any potential danger was invariably mopped up by the experienced centre half pairing of Craig Sinclair and Alastair Claxon.
One moment of defensive sloppiness almost cost Glasgow dearly — An overly ambitious pass saw Ayr able to burst into the box yet the ever alert Louis Alwood was able to save smartly at the feet of the attacker whilst the resulting ricochet was narrowly slashed wide.
Glasgow had perhaps been guilty of merely going through the motions, yet this scare soon saw a significant increase in the university intensity. Captain Finlay Horn, at the heart of midfield, began to orchestrate proceedings. A clever through ball saw Rory McCann unleashed through the middle, and although the Northern Irishman was able to round the goalkeeper his effort was desperately cleared off the line by a scrambling Ayr defence.
The visitors reprieve however was to be short lived. Another well worked short corner saw Horn thread the ball through to McCann, and the striker was on hand to delicately poke it under the quickly advancing goalkeeper.
McCann began to cause havoc at the heart of the Ayr defence, and was unlucky on several occasions not to double his tally. At times the ball seemed glued to his stick, and time after time he was able to effortlessly tear through the mesmerised opposition back line.
Glasgow’s third and decisive goal came again from a set piece, and again it was the captain’s ingenuity around the edge of the box which saw him again able to fire home. A series of clever passes around the box confounded a sprawling Ayr defence, and a slip pass from McCann saw Horn free in the ‘D’ able to smash home from five yards.
Glasgow continued to press and probe at a dispirited Ayr side, and perhaps the only concern will be that they were not able boost their goal difference on a day when there was a notable gulf in class. Yet the University team were forced to settle for three, and will be desperate to see that they continue this momentum into the business end of the season.
Speaking afterwards Horn seemed pleased with the performance “I’m obviously delighted with the victory, it’s been a frustrating season, and that victory has really been a very long time in coming.”
He went on to speak about how the Glasgow University team are fast becoming regarded as set piece specialists:
“We’ve been practising a lot of short corners recently, so it’s great to see the effort put in by the lads on the training ground pay off so well.We have this team again in the cup,so we feel we have a great chance of progress”