Leeds University 1st XI showed great character to come from behind twice to take an important point against a strong Durham side, full of technical ability and physical prowess.
Leeds fell behind after a mere seven minutes, when a low cross from the left was diverted into the net by an onrushing Durham forward. However, Leeds responded brightly and their first real chance came after 27 minutes with forward Josh Walker firing over after a neat move.
The quality of the game generally increased after the first half hour, with Danny Cunningham receiving the ball more often and running from deep at the Durham defence. However, there was a real let-off before half-time, when a Durham forward found himself with time and space, but could only shoot wide.
Five minutes after the break came the moment of brilliance Leeds so desperately needed. From a free-kick after a foul on Walker, Aaron Davies found the smallest of gaps inside the right-hand upright and stroked the ball home. Leeds were deservedly level, and suddenly chasing a winner.
However, the game was derailed soon after by an unfortunate injury to Ben Curley, who was promptly substituted. The break in play seemed to favour Durham more than Leeds, and they retook the lead soon after with a brilliant team goal. With Leeds pressing high up the pitch, a sweeping passing move was finished off by a top-corner finish by the Durham No 9.
It was hard on Leeds, and many must have feared heads would roll. Durham had chances to put the match to bed were it not for some good saves from the Leeds goalkeeper.
With seven minutes to go, full-back Alex Day pumped a ball long up the right-hand channel. Showing brilliant strength and determination, winger Sam Smedley raced onto the ball, out muscling a Durham defender in the process and was running clear on goal. While it would have been easy to panic and waste the chance, Smedley took his time, before calmly rolling the ball under the goalkeeper for the coolly-taken equaliser.
Angered by the goal, Durham pressed forward in search of a late winner, but Leeds’ defence stood firm with some heroic blocks and interceptions.
After the final whistle, Leeds could reflect on a match that could easily have slipped away, but which they hauled themselves back into to claim a highly creditable point.
Leeds 1sts 2-2 Durham 1sts