Mitchell Young reports on a disappointing afternoon for UEL’s men’s football firsts…
The University of East London 1st fell short of a semi-final place in the Southern Conference Cup after a 3-1 defeat to Portsmouth University 1st at Beckton District Park.
UEL took an early lead through a sweetly struck free-kick by Stefan Neilson but the lead was short-lived as Portsmouth equalised straight after from a close range shot.
Portsmouth went in front shortly into the second half from a great individual skill from their striker – and then UEL went down to ten men with a third of the game remaining as Stefan Wright was sent off.
Portsmouth wrapped up the tie with a header to put them into the semi-finals.
UEL started brightly with an immediate chance, Siao Levi-Blackwood’s cross was bent in towards top goalscorer Johan Caney-Bryan but his volley was straight at the keeper.
When Dillan Stephenson was brought down on the edge of the box, Neilson stepped up and struck a low shot which evaded the wall and skimmed into the bottom corner to secure the lead in this important quarter-final.
But the hosts’ lead lasted a minute until Portsmouth broke the UEL defence. The ball was worked out wide to the winger, who put a low cross across the six-yard box and was slid home to equalise.
Neither side could break down the other in the final third of the first half, as Portsmouth neutralised UEL’s threat of Caney-Bryan and frustrated their play.
East London had a great chance to take the lead early in the second half through Stephenson down the right flank; his mazy run worked some space for a shot just inside the box which pinged off the near post.
Portsmouth took charge of the contest 53 minutes in, with a long floating ball which split the defence and a great first touch for the winger enabled an easy toe poke underneath Robbins for the visitors.
UEL were forced into an early change as Neilson was caught by an elbow, both players went up for the ball with Neilson coming off worse and was replaced by Shahid Kasako.
Neilson was taken straight to hospital with a suspected broken nose.
Matters went from bad to worse for UEL after Wright was given a straight red for dissent 64 minutes in.
UEL paid the price with only ten men when a clearance up field turned into an attack as the defence left the ball to run for Robbins. The ball did not reach him and the striker pounced on the bounce and headed over the UEL captain to extend their lead.
The home side’s frustration showed and despite their best efforts could not work their way back into the game as they exited the competition.
UEL line-up: Richie Robbins (c), Darren Hammond, Nnamdi Harold-Egole (Lukman Adesina 82), Stefan Wright, Stefan Neilson (Shahid Kasako 55), Siao Levi-Blackwood, Ousmane Kone, Dillan Stephenson, Johan Caney-Bryan, Theo Ola.