7th February 2018
Cambridge 3 - 3 Nottingham
The Blues footballers continued a spree of action-packed BUCS league games in their latest tie at home to Nottingham, who struck a last gasp equaliser to rob Cambridge of all three points.
The home side were well aware of the dangers Nottingham posed, the away side having pieced together an impressive winning run dating back to the last time the two teams met.
Keen to put a less than controlled first half showing vs Oxford Brookes last week behind them, Cambridge started brightly, with little indication that this match would once again explode into life, this time in the second period.
Indeed, most of the early chances fell to the Blues, with Stefan Wolf in particular going close as his low left footed drive was scooped off the line by Nottingham’s left back. Ollie Lerway was next to threaten, as he arrowed Henry Alexander’s through ball narrowly over the bar.
Cambridge continued to probe, with Michael Hofstetter and Oscar Melbourne taking turns to head over the bar, but the longer the game remained goalless, the more Nottingham gave themselves an opportunity to strike an advantage.
So it proved in the dying embers of the first period, as Nottingham’s lanky striker profited from some indecision at the back to finish into an empty net and close the half in the ascendancy.
Much like the week before, the Blues needed to dig deep to find some resolve when behind and the first fifteen minutes of the second half demonstrated that in spectacular fashion as Nottingham were left stunned by a three goal salvo courtesy of midfielders Joe Ellis and Stefan Wolf.
Ellis’ aerial prowess has been well documented for some time, and those capabilities were on full display as his head provided the impetus for Cambridge’s comeback. The equaliser arrived from a wicked Wolf delivery which Ellis rose assertively to plant beyond the Nottingham goalkeeper.
His second was even more impressive; another free kick nodded down invitingly by Hofstetter at the back post for Ellis to bravely stoop into a sea of Nottingham boots and nod home.
The Blues had barely finished celebrating taking the lead when a third arrived. A sloppy backpass picked up by the goalkeeper resulted in an indirect free-kick 8 yards out. Facing a wall of Nottingham players on the line, the set-piece appeared difficult to fully profit from, but Wolf needed little invitation to notch up another goal for the season, blasting emphatically into the roof of the net following a clever decoy run by Ben Bolderson.
Nottingham were fully rattled and Cambridge were in little mood to relent with George Herring setting the tempo from midfield to pin the away side in their own half. Ellis came closest to adding a fourth, and what would have been a spectacular ten minute hat trick, as his fierce left footed drive ricocheted off the crossbar.
Failing to fully distance themselves from the opposition proved a pivotal turning point as Nottingham hauled their way back into the match, courtesy of a penetrating run and finish from their left winger.
Close after, substitute Rufus Saunders was a lick of paint away from putting Cambridge out of sight with a wonderfully inventive lobbed finish which kissed the crossbar and away.
However, with the Blues anxious to preserve their lead, they retreated deeper and were eventually punished late into injury time. Nottingham created space from a second transition following a free-kick and a driven cross was turned home to grab a share of the spoils and cap a suitably dramatic finish to a pulsating tie.
Nonetheless, the rest of the season remains firmly in Cambridge’s hands, as they need one more win in their double header with Oxford to seal the league title.