More photographs from today’s matches here
VANBRUGH FIRSTS 3 HALIFAX FIRSTS 0
Vanbrugh firsts produced an imperious performance on the JLD today to beat Halifax firsts 3-0. In the process they have confounded the perceived wisdom as to who the favourites in this competition are and have propelled themselves into a position where the must believe that they can now emerge triumphant.
Co-captain Dan Hewitt gave a bullish team talk to his side prior to the match and was vindicated in his assertions that they could beat the much-fancied Fax. Vanbrugh were brilliant all over the pitch and stifled the usually expansive College League champions whilst playing some exquisite football in the process. Despite Mark Lund’s side starting brightly, with Ash Daly finding room in the centre to play his typically pivotal role in feeding Conor Brennan and Tom Ragan, but it was Vanbrugh that found the clear openings. Ali Prince, playing as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 system specifically employed to shut down Halifax, was exceptional for his side and went close from a dubious free-kick early on after Dom Petschak seemed to have won the ball. Ben Stanier went close shortly after before Halifax’s afternoon was summed up as Prince almost went through after robbing the usually impervious Lund.
Halifax’s best chance of the match came courtesy of the uncharacteristically quiet Brennan as he was fed beautifully by Ian Mckellow. His first touch was perfect and he wriggled clear of his marker to curl a shot toward the far conrner which was saved brilliantly by Vanbrugh Keeper Paul Taylor. This rare bright spot came amidst periods of intense pressure from Hewitt’s side with his long throws causing chaos for the three man Halifax defence. When they eventually got the opener that their play deserved, an element of luck was involved. After a long goal kick Prince managed to evade Lund and flick on a header into space for Liam Regan to run on to. His speculative 25-yard effort squirmed under Fax keeper Eddie Kris in a moment that the usually solid performer will be keen to forget.
Halifax came out in the early stages of the second-half seemingly reinvigorated but all too quickly, for the favourites, the game fell into the familiar rhythm of Vanbrugh domination. Daly surprisingly exited mid-way through the half for Jack Beadle and the first year added some much needed verve in the middle of the park. He was powerless though to stop an inspired Vanbrugh and they doubled their advantage through Phil Taylor as he flicked a Jamie Clarke effort past the hapless Kris. Vanbrugh completed their exemplary performance with a flourish, Ali Prince being sent through by the in-form Ben Stanier to sweep home with Kris again complicit in his side’s downfall.
Co-captain Hewitt was understandably proud of his side afterwards, commenting that: “We knew their weak spots and set our formation up accordingly. We were brilliant today and we knew that we had a performance like that coming for a while”. Lund will be left searching for an explanation for such a listless performance and will perhaps be shocked by the anonymity of his suppossed better players: “We were terrible all over the pitch. We simply didn’t want it and we didn’t turn up”.
Halifax had difficulty breaking through Vanbrugh’s resolute 4-5-1 set-up all afternoon. Photograph by George Lowther.
Vanbrugh Firsts: Paul Taylor, Dan Hewitt, Dan Radford, Ben Lowe, James Carr, Ben Stanier, Vest Waterson, Jonny Grout, Liam Regan (Jamie Clarke), Phil Taylor, Ali Prince
Nouse Fantasy Football Man of the Match: Phil Taylor
Halifax Firsts: Eddie Kris, Mark Lund (Tommy Smith), Dom Petschak, Dan Turley, Alex Tringham, Alex Reid, Ash Daly (Jack Beadle), Eamonn Geoghegan, Ian Mckellow, Conor Brennan, Tom Ragan
Nouse Fantasy Football Man of the Match: Dom Petschak
JAMES SECONDS 1 GOODRICKE THIRDS 0
In the undercard to such a mammoth bout it is perhaps imperative to get the job done and let the crowd see what they came for. James Seconds did just that today grinding out a 1-0 win against an improved Goodricke thirds with the lone goal coming inside two minutes from Richard Baxter.
They should have had a couple more as Jody Rolfe went close with an exceptional 25-yard stinger that grazed the bar. Angus O’Brien’s hard work also merited some reward but overall they will be pleased with a tidy result against akward opposition.
They looked nervous as the game drew to a close and given their slender advantage they will be happy to escape unscathed.
Angus O’Brien, the James seconds striker, hunts for the ball during his side’s 1-0 win against Goodricke thirds on Friday. Photograph by George Lowther.
James Seconds: Sam Clitheroe, Johnny Hyde, Nick St George, Ben Cooke, Richard Baxter, Tom Prifti (Dave Williams), Matt Vermeulen (Alex Collins), James Worthington, Sam Gibb, Angus O’Brien, Jody Rolfe
Nouse Fantasy Football Man of the Match: Nick St George
Goodricke Thirds: John Cook, George Dyke (Greg Kearney), Tom Elliot, Tom Saint, Harry Shaw, Dave Driver, Josh Savage, Luke Hurst, Matt Burke, Tim Marshall, Fred Groom
Nouse Fantasy Football Man of the Match: Harry Shaw