UNIVERSITY OF YORK 13
Nigel Wayne Trophy Semi-Final – Saturday 20th February
Those quick to condemn the men’s lacrosse team as ‘underachievers’ clearly don’t realise that the York boys also work weekends. They have a cup final to look forward to after an outstanding second-half performance blew Oldham away on Saturday afternoon, the 13-4 victory in this Nigel Wayne Trophy semi-final earned through an entertaining, fast-running style of lacrosse.
The goals were spread evenly among the York attackers, with Phil Harrold weighing in with four and Rob Cosslett, Paul Crowley Jr and Krishna Balan grabbing three apiece. With the scores locked at 4-4 midway through the game, Jim Lenke, the York coach, urged his players to take a deep breath and exhale the niggly mistakes of the fractious opening half and adopt the lightning-fast game they are capable of. The results were staggering – Oldham failed to muster another goal as their confidence was gradually sapped away by frequent York strikes and constant pressure.
Benedict Robinson, the York goalkeeper and team Captain, acknowledged the contrast afterwards: “That was the best second-half we’ve played in a long time. There’s no point singling anyone out because everyone deserves a mention after a performance like that.”
York are quickly becoming cup specialists – this afternoon’s win came off the back of a midweek 19-0 BUCS Cup rout of the University of East Anglia – and will fancy their chances of picking up a piece of silverware before the end of term. Timperley or Heaton Mersey will provide the opposition in the Trophy final, to be played at Rochdale in three weeks time.
“Considering that only two of our team had picked up a stick before they came to university, it’s remarkable that this could be the most successful year the club have ever had,” added Robinson.
Tempers flare in the goalmouth during the opening quarter after York’s Krishna Balan and Oldham’s Mike Green squared up. Photograph by Irene Sieberger.
In chilly conditions on the 22 Acres, York wasted little time in ripping into an Oldham side with whom there had been previous beef. Barely 30 seconds had elapsed from the start when Harrold advanced unchecked down the right and lashed home the first goal.
Shortly afterwards, Cosslett pirouetted past two markers and fired home after a patient York build-up, before Crowley got in on the act for 3-0 after Balan had been denied by the goalkeeper. At this point, Oldham’s alleged pre-match threats to “break York’s kneecaps” were looking pretty pathetic as a humiliation threatened. They responded to the early blitz by committing a string of petty infringements, culminating when defender Mike Green yanked Balan’s faceguard, sparking a 10-man bust-up in the goalmouth and sending both players bickering to the sin bin.
After the dust had settled, Oldham had succeeded in disrupting York’s rhythm and they stole a goal back towards the end of the quarter, building on the momentum in the second to pull the scores level and then nudge in front at 4-3. York were getting frustrated and required a time-out to stem the one-directional flow of the match, although they recovered enough composure to equalise through Crowley following intelligent build-up by Coslett and James Menon.
Phil Walker, the York defender, comes under pressure during today’s game. Photograph by Irene Sieberger.
From this point forward, it was all York, whose pace was simply too much for an Oldham side comprised of a 50-50 balance between inexperienced teenagers and flagging forty-somethings. The fifth demonstrated the difference in quality as Oldham failed to clear their lines after Harrold was thwarted in a one-on-one, the same player finishing from ten yards.
Cosslett, hungry for more goals, sent a bouncing effort narrowly wide of the post, then saw a similar shot blocked but, after the visitors’ defence had got themselves into a muddle, he shimmied in from the left to blast a low shot into the net.
Balan deserved a goal and, with his marker growing ever-more fatigued, he pounced with an accurate low attempt. The away side, by this point looking pretty shell-shocked, buzzed around the York goal for five minutes but their staccato approach play got them nowhere near Robinson’s net as the defensive trio of Phil Walker, Gareth Ball and Mark Bickerdike kept them on a tight leash.
Phil Harrold, who scored four times for York, bears down on the Oldham goal. Photograph by Irene Sieberger.
This foundation at the back anchored the York counter-attacks which delivered two further goals before the changearound. Balan made it eight after dancing through a couple of challenges, before Harrold added another with the most spectacular goal of the game as he again raced down the right flank.
The final quarter was understandably quieter, with Oldham bereft of spirit and York content to let the clock run down and bury any hope of a comeback. Once Harrold had notched his fourth with an easy finish from Cosslett’s assist, the sun had set on Oldham’s hopes of reaching the final.
The remaining goals were just for pride, though there was an element of showboating about the eleventh as Crowley netted with an audacious backflick following Menon’s quicksilver dart from the half-way line. There was just enough time for Cosslett and Balan to complete their hat-tricks, completing a comfortable afternoon’s work for York, who must be immensely confident of lifting the Nigel Wayne Trophy in next month’s showpiece.
York Line-up: GK – Benedict Robinson, 11. Phil Walker, 28. Gareth Ball, 99. Mark Bickerdike, 88. James Menon, 24. Luke Shilling, 36. Phil Harrold, 49. Rob Cosslett, 48. Paul Crowley Jr, 15. Krishna Balan
Replacements: William Pye, Michael Pullinger, George Breese