UNIVERSITY OF YORK 6
BOLTON UNIVERSITY FIRSTS 2
York men’s water polo team got off to a flying start in their first BUCS game of the season with a assertive 6–2 win over the visiting Bolton side.
From the first whistle York put Bolton on the back foot, moving up the pool as one to surround the shallow end goal. Defending well at first, Bolton kept York’s players back. A few long range shots found the bar, but York kept Bolton hemmed in on the goal line. Great supporting work by club president Chris Unsworth saw the ball lobbed into pit, where it found Giulio Schinaia, who executed a textbook backhand into the back of the net.
Rob Holmes and Andy Woodward put their energy up front into keeping Bolton’s defenders tied up. Playing the role of sweeper, James Richardson, York’s captain, worked as one with Unsworth, dummying and passing back and forth out of reach of the Bolton centres. A surprise long-range shot from Unsworth put the score at 2–0.
Though unable to break away from James O’Brien and Yari Magnus-Hamblett’s marking, Bolton began to counter attack. Tim Parkin defended the pit well several times, frustrating Bolton’s attempts to get in close. Bolton’s centre and right wing attempted to lob a few goals in, but some competent goalkeeping by Chris Snowdon (and a few unlucky shots) kept the scoresheet clean.
By halfway York had clocked up a score 4-0, with screamers from Unsworth and Richardson completing the tally.
The second half proved very different. Without subs Bolton were beginning to tire and proved unable to push up the pool as a single unit, which led to a more cunning strategy. They chose to keep half the team in defence and have numbers 4 and 5 hang in York’s half of the pool. It proved successful with Stefan Payer scoring in the pit despite some heavy marking. Another goal by Rob Curch from the right wing and Bolton looked like they might be back in the game.
York started to push up again and the action around Bolton’s goal began to get frantic. Desperate for a goal, Tim Parkin found the woodwork again and again, and goals by Rob Holmes and Michael Conboy were unfortunately disallowed.
York’s passes went out to midfield instead, and then the home side showed their ability to retain possession, putting Bolton on the back foot once again. Another goal by Chris proved the turning point. With Bolton’s centres effectively double-marked by Richardson, Steve Bartlett and Ali Holmes, the opposition were reduced to defending. Receiving a short pass from Unsworth, Richardson swam in to complete the match, scoring a scrappy push shot on the goal line to end it at 6-2 to York.
Having only trained for four weeks, and with many players new to the game, this proved a promising start to York’s BUCS tournament. The team have been on a steep learning curve, with friendlies against Durham and Newcastle providing a crash course in teamwork. The team worked well together, and all put in solid performances. Hopefully this victory can act as a confidence boost as the season continues.