Halifax were successful in this morning’s College Hockey showdown as goals from Joe Lancaster and Barnaby Spink secured a deserved 2-0 victory over rivals James.
Tied on points at the beginning of the day, and separated only by goal difference, it was clear that today’s result would go a long way to deciding who would win the league.
The importance of the result was perhaps the reason behind the slightly slow start but as the opening stages progressed it was James who began to seize the initiative, with Mr College Sport Alex Muntus particularly busy and effective in midfield.
Halifax had Dong-Oh Shin in goal whereas James employed Sam Unsworth, who produced an outstanding performance, as sweeper. This meant that Halifax’s forays forward always seemed more likely to end in a goal although James’ defence coped manfully with most of their advances.
Goalkeeper Shin was forced into two saves as his side struggled to clear their lines before the Fax began to get into the game much more. At the break it remained 0-0 with both sides desperately seeking the potentially definitive opening goal.
Images: Philippa Grafton
Minutes into the first half Halifax struck a crucial blow; James Wilson drove to the line and his cross was met by the impressive Joe Lancaster who swept home from close range to give his side the lead.
Halifax’s opener was the signal for James’ joint-captain Matt Smith to increase his attacking options as left-back Clement Sum was sacrificed for a forward.
With James now streaming forwards they had a few chances to get back on level terms. Striker Janak Vyas went narrowly wide after a good run before Jambo Talbot saw his shot miss the far post as well. Many of James’ attacks were thrwarted by Fax defender Ben Rogan who was another player to impress
Shin made another good save after a shot from the re-introduced Sum headed toward his goal, before Halifax wrapped up the points. The James team were, by now, overcommitted and Halifax were able to counter-attack and find Spink who did the rest to make it 2-0.
Kathy Cook, James joint-captain, was immensely proud of her team, despite the loss: “We have never been more proud of how the team played”, while her counterpart Catherine Johnson shared similar emotions, but perhaps for happier reasons: “I’m really, really proud. In my time in the team we’ve never been this close [to winning the league] and today we really earned it”.