As the first half of the season comes to an end for the University Men’s Football 1st’s, SportsByte reviews what we have learnt so far, and what could be improved in the remaining games of the season in 2018.

League form

The Wearsiders last game saw them on the receiving end of a 6-1 thumping on Wednesday to Durham University’s 2nd’s. The heavy defeat epitomised the season as a whole so far for the 1st’s. Just two wins from six games in the league and multiple thrashings have exposed the weaknesses the team have at the back this season.

The absences of centre-back Marc Atkinson through injury as well as limited appearances from star midfielder Dan Winterburn haven’t helped the 1st’s chances of climbing the table in recent games. However the introduction of speedy striker Joe Tunc in the last couple of games has seen the attacking play improve significantly.

Cup woes

The squad haven’t had much to celebrate outside of the league either after being knocked out of the Northern Conference Cup in the early stages.

The side only managed to make it to the second round after being eliminated by York St. John’s 2nd’s – a disappointing campaign considering the team’s feat of reaching the final just two years ago.

Standout player

Ahmed Terek has arguably been the most consistent player so far this campaign scoring and assisting frequently in the league. The Egyptian has often been the talisman for the squad; creating attacks from midfield and causing problems for the opposition with his technical dribbling ability.

Other problems

Manager Phil Naisbett is rarely critical of his team’s ability and stresses other factors are at play. A constant of the manager’s frustrations is the lack of options he has in the team, more than once arriving at the games only to find they have just 12 players.

The training regime has also been questioned by Naisbett, with the head coach outlining that all of their league opponents train at least twice a week, in contrast to Sunderland who train just once a week.

Captain’s view

Skipper Ollie Watt has been a consistent and key part of the squad, whether playing as a forward, midfielder or defender, he has proven he can do a job for the team wherever.

Watt had this to say on the season so far: “Looking back at the first half of the season we can’t be too disheartened. It’s been a transformation year for the 1st team and to be mid table isn’t a bad thing.”

Watt also reviewed the team’s results thus far, saying: “Some hard fought results have shown that we can win games if we put the commitment in and take out chances.

“Some heavy defeats have been hard to take but if we could win 3 of our last 4 games that’d be a successful season in my eyes”

They will be hoping to kick-start the winning on the 31st of January when they travel to Leeds Beckett 3rd’s, the side they grabbed their first win against at the start of the season.