HALIFAX COLLEGE 1
VANBRUGH COLLEGE 0
Sunday 7th February 2010
Mark Lund produced a captain’s performance to drive his side on to victory over Vanbrugh today. Vanbrugh fought bravely from first to last against last term’s champions but in the end a contentious penalty, converted by that man Lund, was enough to secure all three points for Halifax.
In the first-half Vanbrugh were probably the better side; they certainly ran the show in the opening exchanges. Centre back Dan Radford, who enjoyed another strong performance today, went just wide from a corner and Phil Taylor’s flick-on at the near post went across the goal without finding a teammate. Halifax came back into the game and, after their calls for a penalty were turned down, Tom Ragan forced a good save from Vanbrugh ‘keeper Paul Taylor from a corner.
The game was end-to-end without either side carving out any genuine opportunities. Vanbrugh were playing some lovely passing football and it looked as if they might take the lead when they managed to get round Alex Simon in the Halifax goal but somehow the ball was cleared. Jack Beadle, who was so instrumental in Halifax’s success last term, tried in vain to get his side in front; turning on the edge of the box he was unable to get his shot away and the score remained deadlocked at 0-0.
Before the break Beadle sent a cross in that nobody could quite get on the end of and Conor Brennan’s shot was deflected over the bar. One could sense that Halifax were exerting a bit more pressure to try and grab the lead before the break but it wasn’t to be as they went in on equal terms. It was a half where both sides had played some nice stuff but equally both had looked unlikely to genuinely trouble each other’s backlines.
The lack of edge displayed by both sides during the first 45 seemed to be the main talking point in both team talks as the second-half began at a frenetic pace. Vanbrugh’s Liam Regan looked likely to put his side ahead but was unable to convert and Halifax’s ‘keeper Simon pulled off a smart save from the resultant corner. Once again early Vanbrugh pressure was responded to by some Halifax dominance. Brennan worked himself a bit of space on the edge of the area but Taylor pulled off a fine save to deny him, tipping the ball over the bar from 20 yards out.
The Vanbrugh stopper was enjoying a fine day between the sticks and twice in quick succession he denied Beadle’s one-man mission to give Halifax the lead. At the other end Dan Radford’s cultured effort cannoned back off the bar, serving as a reminder to Lund’s side that they couldn’t commit too many men forward in the hunt for a win. Despite this they continued to stream forward. Beadle and Brannan combined nicely down the right but another Taylor save kept things all square. Eamonn Geoghegan shot just over the bar and Brennan was once again denied, turning on the edge of the box and forcing a shot that was kept out again.
It seemed that a goal for Halifax was coming and eventually it did. Brennan was sent away over the top and as he knocked the ball on he went to ground. In the eyes of the Vanbrugh players it was not a penalty, something displayed by their remonstrations with the ref who viewed it differently and pointed to the spot. Captain Dan Hewitt later used the penalty decision as evidence of Ref Soc’s shortcomings; “From where I was it looked like a bit of a dive…but I’m not blaming Conor or the ref…it shows why Ref Soc should turn up. It left the ref, a guy who’s turned up to watch his team, under a lot of pressure and he succumbed”. His opposite number Lund sent Taylor the wrong way from the spot to finally put his side in front.
Despite Vanbrugh’s late pressure Halifax remained solid to claim all three points. A great take by ‘keeper Simon was the highlight of Halifax’s resilience. It is often said of great sides that they’re able to win without playing well and today was evidence of that for Halifax, they fought tooth and nail for their goal and probably deserved the eventual result. Vanbrugh’s skipper Hewitt disagreed saying his said had “matched them man for man” and had “created the better chances”. Regardless of the eventual result Hewitt would doubtless been proud of the performance his side put in. Lund too would have been overjoyed with his team, the grit and determination they showed to claim the win speaks volumes and he summed up the performance saying it was “not pretty, but effective. That’s the stuff that will win us the treble” and on today’s evidence he can’t be far wrong.