Despite the freezing weather conditions again playing havoc with the University’s sports fixtures on Wednesday, there were some crucial fixtures completed which will go along way to determining whether York’s teams are celebrating promotion or lamenting relegation next month. Nouse reviews the best of the action in our weekly round-up.
The biggest disappointment of the afternoon was the postponement of the men’s rugby firsts fixture against Northumbria, where a win would have boosted their championship hopes as they tussle with Sheffield Hallam for BUCS League 1A. The women’s rugby fixture against Newcastle in the cup also fell victim to the elements, though lacrosse and both college and women’s football fixtures went ahead.
The biggest headline of the afternoon, as a result, belonged to the men’s hockey firsts, whose dramatic, late 2-1 success over Northumbria on the Astroturf lifted them off the bottom of the table in League 2B. Northumbria took the lead after just ten minutes, as Connor Dempsey swept the ball home from close range. However, having forced half-a-dozen short corners in the first-half, York eventually equalised close to half-time when Henry Mellor’s shot was diverted in by James Branton. York were very much on the offensive in the second-half but their pressure only told five minutes from time as Mellor’s incisive pass found Andy Harris’s run, the midfield player rounding the goalkeeper and finishing calmly. This goal, York’s tenth in the league this season, could well prove to be one of the most important as it moved the team above both Northumbria and York St. John to fourth in the standings. Andy McIlwraith, the York captain, called the result “as big as Roses” but said his side could “have put another three past them.”
Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Northumbria was critical for the men’s hockey firsts, giving them a boost in their bid to avoid relegation from League 2B. Photograph by George Lowther.
Over on the 22 Acres, the women’s football firsts completed the double over local rivals Leeds University with a 3-2 win. Confident following last week’s 2-0 away success, the team raced into a two-goal lead again after just half-an-hour as Sarah Milner’s spectacular free-kick and Fiona Wallis’s composed finish put York in control. After seeing a third goal disallowed for offside, Leeds halved the deficit through a fine chip on the stroke of half-time but York re-established their two-goal supremacy three minutes after the break through Jennie England’s tap-in. Although Leeds again reduced the lead, their goal came too late to change the destination of the points and York, with their third league win of the season, remain in the promotion mix-up.
In the day’s basketball action, the gulf in quality between York’s men’s team and runaway league leaders Sheffield Hallam was exposed as the steel city university won 78-50. York, however, matched their opponents for large periods, and with just three minutes remaining in the second quarter, they trailed by just four points, before a quick eight-point flurry took the game away from York. Hallam are now twelve points clear of York at the top of League 3B, but the latter have a chance to respond next week against Huddersfield, another promotion hopeful. York captain Dane Vishnubala commented that his team had lost their focus in the last two quarters: “We didn’t want it as much as they did. We started well but the intensity dropped in the second half. We were against the best team in the league but we matched them for half the game. We just had no composure in the second.”
Sheffield Hallam bossed Wednesday’s men’s basketball encounter, although York matched the league leaders until the third quarter. Photograph by Peter iveson.
The women’s team enjoyed a much better afternoon, though, with an 83-29 rout of Newcastle seconds cementing their position atop League 3B. The side look set to enter a promotion shoot-out with Hull, but the momentum and the superior points difference lie with York, who have won their last three fixtures.
There was double delight for the netball club as the second and third sides both registered victories on home territory. The seconds remain hot on the heels of Newcastle after beating Hull 37-31 and look set to enter the promotion play-offs at the very least with three key fixtures, including an away derby with St. John to play this month. The thirds, meanwhile, heaped more misery on relegation-afflicted St. John with a ruthless 60-7 win and remain an outside bet for promotion from League 6B.
Elsewhere, the women’s badminton firsts tied with Northumbria 4-4 in a result which does neither side any favours as they attempt to reel in pace-setters Sheffield Hallam, the women’s lacrosse seconds were thrashed 17-1 at home by Manchester and the women’s squash side were clinically beaten by league leaders Leeds Met. Better fortunes for the men’s team, however, as they made light work of Leeds seconds 5-0 in a relegation six-pointer. The women’s tennis firsts returned to the thick of the title race with a 6-4 away success at Sheffield University, while the men’s firsts crashed 8-2 at Durham.