England v Scotland Water polo

MMU scholars gain first England Water Polo caps in victory over Scotland

  • NQ's Rebecca Longbottom reviews the performance of MMU scholars in an intense game of international water polo 
  • England emerged victorious in a thrilling game, winning by a single goal

Three of MMU’s sports scholars shined bright in England’s nail-biting finale against bitter rivals Scotland, winning 13-12 after a tense penalty shootout.

Dan Paddon, Jordan Elliot and Joel Leighton all secured their first full England cap along the way at the East Manchester Leisure Centre last Saturday.

England and Scotland Senior Men’s teams haven’t met since the final of the commonwealth tournament in April 2014, with Saturday being their first competitive fixture since the games.

It wasn’t until halfway through the first quarter of the game that the first goal was scored for England, converted by MMU scholar Jordan Elliot, sending the home crowd electric. Scotland’s Alasdair Campbell equalised towards the final minute of the quarter, with both sides on level pegging going into the second quarter.

Jordan Elliot said: “It felt pretty good to score my first goal at senior level for England. I had to keep calm since it was the first minute of the game and carry on with the game plan and so on, but it felt really good to score my first goal.”

In the second quarter, the crowd quietened when A Campbell scored a brace, sending his side into the lead. England responded straight away with two goals from Addison Brown and Tom Grieve which put England back in the ascendancy. Unfortunately for the home side, the lead didn’t last long, with Scotland’s Joshua Brown levelling proceedings just seconds before the half-time break.

Just over a minute into the third quarter, experienced centre-forward Fraser Rutherford scored and Scotland took the lead, closely followed by another goal from Nielson Rutherford which gave the visitors a crucial two-goal lead. England became more solid in defence and drove well with possession, with Lewis Daly scoring the final goal of the third quarter, closing the gap to one goal.

Not even a minute into the fourth and final quarter, Christopher Campbell took Scotland further into the lead. In the space of 40 seconds, the home-side got two goals, coming from MMU scholar Dan Paddon and fellow teammate Aaron Winstanley, equalising the game. Scotland strengthened their attack with C Campbell scoring his second of the match.

Despite being a man down, MMU scholar Elliot scored for England again and equalised with the score 7-7. There was just over a minute to go and a penalty was given to Scotland, taken by Edward Grundy, who took the lead for his team. There was just under a minute left on the clock before MMU scholar Paddon scored the final goal of the game and made the score 8-8, forcing the game to a penalty shootout.

MMU scholars Elliot and Paddon both scored in their side's victory over Scotland in sudden death, winning 13-12.

Dan Paddon expressed his thoughts on the game. He said: “It sounds cliché, but it was a team effort. The goalkeeper got us out of the mess a few times, especially in the penalty shootout he made that final save.

"Jordan and I might have got a few of the goals, but obviously with Joel (Leighton) being solid at centre back and a few others make those really good steals.”

Joel Leighton, another student at MMU, said: “Personally, I’d actually like to put one in-between the sticks instead of hitting it all the time, but Fraser (Rutherford) is a big centre forward he’s got a lot of experience so it was nice to battle him half the game and try and work our defence.

"A lot of players have never played at this level before so there’s a bit of tactical naivety in there, but that’s stuff we can work on and push forward and hopefully iron those out for the EU nations and eventually the world student games.”

Jérôme Read, the performance sport manager at the Manchester-based University added: “The Manchester Metropolitan guys played really really strong. Dan Paddon was a strong player from the outside, still his movements sometimes in attack falls foul of the way that the  England set up seems to be playing at the moment which is much more static than it needs to be, it needs to be a bit more dynamic.

“It was great to see all of the England team getting their new caps, but particularly pleasing for me that three of the sports scholars that we have on the Man Met programme all were able to make that team as well and that’s down to the work they’re doing at the university, at their club and also everything they’ve done in the lead up to this point so congratulations to them.”