York Men’s Football 1sts 3-1 Stirling Men’s Football 2nds
York got their BUSA Plate challenge up and running after a hard fought but ultimately comfortable victory over Scottish opponents Stirling University 2nds.
York started by far the stronger of the two teams and were rewarded when the ever influential Mark Gouland scored an impressive goal from the edge of the box after only ten minutes.
The rest of the half was notable for fine defending from both sides and hard tackling in the midfield. Stirling in particular put in two crunching tackles that were even felt by the spectators watching on the sidelines.
York played with great composure and only some fine Stirling defending, marshaled by Ryan Blair, prevented them from adding another. However, Stirling’s attack was almost non-existent, something that haunted them throughout the match, as the only chances they managed were speculative long-range efforts.
York came out firing in the second half, playing some lovely flowing football. Dom O’Shea should have doubled the lead after a jinking run through the Stirling defence. Despite having done all the hard work he was unable to convert, blazing the ball over the bar.
Completely against the run of play, Stirling managed to equalize in scrappy fashion. Goalkeeper Cooper Emerson was unable to do more than get a hand to a cross whipped in from the left, and the ball was bundled into the back of the net by a Stirling forward.
Cheered on by spectators departing from the Varsity matches, York quickly rallied and scored a scrappy goal of their own from a corner. The ball bounced around the six-yard box hitting York strikers, the post, and the Stirling goalkeeper before Ed Murrils got his head to the ball and squeezed it between post and Stirling defender.
The goal caused Stirling to up their game, and the match really moved into fifth gear. Stirling surged forward, causing trouble down both wings, but the central defensive partnership of Jonny MacWilliams and Greg Gardner were equal to the challenge.
York sought continuously to put the game to rest and, with only a few minutes left it was Gouland who got on the end of a great cross from Tom Wilson, directing the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
This final goal killed the game off and York were able to clinch a deserved win. The strongest aspect of York’s game was the ease with which they played the ball around, utilising the whole pitch.
Their fitness levels were also much higher than their opponents, and they were able to take full advantage when Stirling started flagging in the final quarter.
Stirling contended spiritedly, especially in defense and midfield. Their downfall was poor team spirit, with players bickering at each other throughout the match.
It was a convincing overall display from a York side who have been outstanding and consistent for the entirety of the season and will now look forward to their next match against Stirling 3rds.
Team Line-Up: Emerson, Gardner, MacWilliams, Evans, Cooper, Wilson, Witherwick, O’Shea, Smith, Gouland, Murrills