UNIVERSITY OF YORK THIRDS 3-4 HARROGATE THIRDS
Images: Petroc Taylor
An encouraging second half performance by the York Hockey third team on a crisp afternoon on the JLD was not enough to prevent a narrow 4-3 defeat to the Harrogate Hockey thirds, whose defensive organisation frustrated York throughout the game.
Both teams were eager to get back to winning ways, as both had lost their previous games. Harrogate in particular were determined to exorcise the demons of a contentious defeat to York the previous week which had seen them defeated 1-0 with the referee ending the game after only 50 minutes.
Harrogate came out of the blocks quicker than York, who initially struggled to maintain possession in the middle of the pitch. This pressure lead to a bombardment on the York D, with Harrogate captain Chris French looking particularly dangerous, running at the York defence at every opportunity.
Somewhat inevitably, French would soon score, after Harrogate won a short corner ten minutes into the match. The second would follow shortly, as York left themselves exposed at the back whilst looking for an equaliser. French and his team appeared to be running riot.
At this point York began to come back into the game, with a flurry of short corners, only to allow French to complete his hat-trick; a pattern was beginning to emerge here. The harder York pushed to get themselves back into the game, the more exposed they left themselves to Harrogate’s speedy counter-attacks on the wings.
All was not lost however, as York gave themselves a fighting chance before the half time whistle went. The White Rose finally succeeded in breaking down the rugged Harrogate defence, with forward Max Fox scoring a tap in after a swift counter attack down the right wing. Almost immediately afterwards, wide man Robin Willow would add another from just inside of the D, leaving the scores at 3-2 with five minutes to play before halftime.
Unfortunately York would concede once more before half time, as veteran player Peter Bowman smashed the ball past the keeper from another short corner. This left the score at 4-2 to Harrogate at halftime.
York seemingly turned a corner after the restart however, putting in a display in which they dominated the majority of the possession, but struggled to take their chances to level up the match.
York Captain Declan Hall and winger Rob Smith were particularly lively in the second period, sparking the York team into life. Numerous scramblesin the D would ensue, which York would feel unlucky not to have scored from. Despite the robust effort of the York team in the second half, a solitary goal from Captain Hall would be all the team had to show for their troubles.
The players were upbeat despite the loss, with the general consensus amongst the team that they had moved the ball around better than in their previous fixtures. Speaking with Nouse after the game, Tom Merriman appeared confident, boldly stating “the results will come after Christmas”.