Images: Philippa Grafton
Two consecutive wins in the York Sport Village swimming pool gave the water polo men’s firsts a delightful undefeated run into the next tier of the BUCS leagues.
Each of the five teams in the league converged in a double-header event held at the brand new pool facilities that lurk beyond Heslington East, with York pulling out the most dominant displays of an enjoyable and action-packed Saturday evening.
The congestion of the fixtures meant that the games would be played in two halves instead of the conventional structure of four quarters.
The opening match of the event saw the home side take on Liverpool’s second team. York were incredibly swift in breaking the deadlock as they worked the ball forward with ease to Mike Perkins, who whipped out a shot that was too powerful for the opposition goalkeeper.
Team captain Joe Marshall doubled the lead only a minute later; York ‘keeper Chris Snowden (who only conceded two goals all evening) picked Marshall out perfectly down the left-hand side and he was given the space to approach on goal and slot away an easy finish.
York’s flow looked briefly disrupted after they committed a string of fouls, but then a foul by Liverpool freed up Gabriel Cramer to break quickly down the right and score comfortably, making the score 3-0.
York’s final goal of the half, to make the score 6-0, came when Cramer picked out the unmarked Matyas Mulnar in the middle of goal – Mulnar bounced the ball past the helpless Liverpool goalkeeper.
Liverpool’s shambolic marking was giving the Black and Gold far too much time and space in front of goal, but it was Liverpool who looked the brightest at the start of the second half. York reacted by adding another two goals to their score sheet.
The Merseyside team did, however, manage to pull one back. But York were never going to let their opposition get away with scoring any more, as they dominated possession and continued to score goals until the final whistle.
Marshall then decided to settle the scoring by completing a well-deserved hat-trick when he was allowed too much space in front of goal, producing an unstoppable finish at 11-1. York had left Liverpool dead in the water.
York hoped to carry their form into their next game against Chester’s first team, but the bottom-of-the-league side looked to have other ideas.
In a low scoring first half, the game’s first chance came when Snowden played the ball through to Marshall and then to Perkins, but he was denied by the crossbar.
Chester then went on the claim the first blood of the match. They worked the ball well across the pool to find some space in front of goal; Snowden got a hand to the shot but it wasn’t enough to deflect the effort away.
This setback only motivated York further, and it clearly motivated Johnnie Ball more than others as he powered his way through the centre of the pool and coolly finished well to level the score at 1-1.
Chester were closing down York’s attackers very well, giving them no room to throw any dangerous shots on goal.
The White Rose did eventually break through just before half-time; Lim cleverly drew the defenders wide, freeing up space for Perkins in the middle to finish calmly.
From the very outset of the second half, York opened the (metaphorical, thankfully) floodgates when Lim won the ball from the swim-off and delivered the ball to Ramage, who tucked it into the top corner to make it 3-1.
York’s fifth goal came when Mulnar cleverly switched the ball to Marshall, whose solid shot rippled into the roof of the net.
Chester did have their chances in the second half, but Snowden remained adamant that he was not going to concede again.
An illusionary sixth goal did go just before the full time whistle. Missed by most of the spectators, a strike from York managed to break through the net at the back of goal – the many onlookers simply presumed that it had gone behind goal from the side netting.
After a successful evening, a pleased team captain Joe Marshall told Nouse: “We proved our credentials today and we’ve put in a lot of hard work. Lancaster better watch out!”