UNIVERSITY OF YORK FIRSTS 0
UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD FIRSTS 1
BUCS Cup Semi-Final – Wednesday 24th February
A tenth minute Sheffield winner was enough to split the teams in this tense, if uninspiring, BUCS Cup Semi-final on Wednesday afternoon.
The Steel City team will take on Manchester University seconds in the March 24th final after clinging on to their slender advantage with grim determination, doing just enough to suffocate York’s hallmark attacking vibrancy. Normally, it is York who stun opponents with early goals, but the tables were turned here as a deflected effort beat goalkeeper Cass Barker after a short corner had only been half-cleared.
If the cup exit has a silver lining, it allows the team to concentrate on earning promotion to League 2B which, as impressive victories over York St. John and Leeds University earlier on the cup trail have shown, is their rightful place. Three matches remain to achieve this aim, away to Newcastle, Leeds, the current leaders by three points, and Northumbria.
The sizeable and partisan crowd on the touchline were disappointed by the Sheffield goal but must have admired the way the visiting side then penned York into their defensive third for the next 20 minutes. While not threatening to double the lead, their press cut off the supply lines to Laura Pepper and Andrea Pisesky in the York attack.
It took nearly half-an-hour for the home side to unlock the well-marshalled Sheffield rearguard – Rachael Faustino turned her marker brilliantly only to see her snapshot blocked by the goalkeeper’s leg. The same player created a chance for Emily Lucas after weaving past a couple of defenders but the ‘keeper was again alert to the danger.
Laura Pepper’s opportunities to create for York were restricted by a Sheffield team bent on defending their early lead. Photograph by Justyn Hardcastle.
The second-half continued along the same lines: Sheffield attacked rarely, concentrating on getting numbers behind the ball and soaking up the York pressure. Frankie Hall was at the centre of neat build-up on one occasion but the danger was snuffed out and, in the last few minutes, she raced down the right flank to win a short corner. However, in what had become a repeating pattern, Sheffield had read the feed to Pepper on the edge of the ‘D’ and raced out of the goalmouth to close her down.
Sheffield, who also sit second in League 2B, look well-placed for glory but, while there will be initial regret at this defeat, York have proved their class with an illuminating cup run and an five-month unbeaten BUCS sequence which proves their talents are wasted in their current division.
York had a number of short corners during the game, but were unable to make them work. Photograph by Justyn Hardcastle.
York Line-up: GK – Cass Barker, 3. Anna Smith (c), 7. Charlie Bartlett, 19. Hannah Harrison, 13. Imy Eldergill-Storm, 18. Rachael McMillan, 77. Emily Lucas, 24. Rachael Faustino, 25. Frankie Hall, 9. Laura Pepper, 11. Andrea Pisesky
Replacements: Hannah Gage, Natalie Montezuma, Bella Slator