Halifax through to the Cup after defeating spirited Vanbrugh

Group C

Images: Agatha Torrance

Halifax seconds saw off a spirited Vanbrugh side to see them finish second in Group C and secure their progression to the Cup. Goals from Eliot Ragan and Connor McCoy served to settle any Halifax nerves after Vanrbugh opened the scoring after a mere five minutes through Aaron Hooper.

It was a cagey affair on the JLD this afternoon, but Vanbrugh started explosively through Hooper, who seized upon a rare lapse in the Halifax defence to fire the ball goal-ward with a well placed and powerful strike. It was a dream start for Vanbrugh who needed a win from this match to stand a chance of progressing in the competition.

Halifax picked themselves immediately after Vanbrugh’s opening goal, Connor McCoy had a go from twenty yards but his shot was wide of the far post. Connor Meckin also tried his hand as he attempted to shrug off Robert Konstandelos and latch onto the end of a cross, but his header was not nearly powerful enough and bounced harmlessly in front of goal allowing Kallum Taylor to gather it safely.

McCoy was in the action once again as he delivered a good ball from a corner to Dave Lewis in the box, but Lewis was unable to get enough direction in his header and it sailed harmlessly over the bar. Halifax had yet another chance from a header when Ragan leapt up to reach McGuinness’ cross at the far post, but it once again skewed wide.

It wasn’t long before Halifax where on level terms though, it was Ragan who equalised after some scrambled defending in the penalty area saw Eliot Glanville desperately attempt to clear the ball off the line but Ragan was on hand to poke it into the net. It was a poor goal for Vanbrugh to concede considering the start they had made and they now faced an uphill battle to regain their lead.

In the dying minutes of the first half, Vanbrugh were awarded a free kick in a great position after Halifax were judged to have handled the ball. Paul O’Beirne stepped up to take it and he unleashed a beauty of a delivery, the ball curled around the Halifax players and dipped dangerously but keeper Hamish Denham just about managed to deal with it.

At half time the score was poised tantalisingly at 1-1. Halifax started the second half in dominant fashion, McGuiness forced a very good save from Taylor who had a great second half. He was called upon moments later to make another save, this time with his feet and he was able to keep Vanbrugh in the game as Halifax started to look increasingly threatening.

But there was nothing Taylor could do about Vanbrugh’s second goal, McCoy unleashed an amazing strike that beat absolutely everyone to the delight of his teammates. The game began to get cagey again, little happened in between the two goals in the first half and it was the same again in the second half, McCoy’s strike seemed to settle Vanbrugh’s fate.

Taylor continued to make some excellent saves, this time he denied Ryan Doherty from sealing the match for Halifax. O’Beirne tried to create another magical delivery from a free kick but this time his shot was low and clattered into the Halifax players who were grouped in the penalty area.

The game meandered to a 2-1 finish, subsequently ending Alcuin firsts’ Cup hopes, as they were relying on a Vanbrugh win to leap frog Halifax in the table.

Vanbrugh captain Robert Kostandelos spoke after the match, saying, “I thought we played really well, I thought we matched them in the first half, if not were better than them. I think the goals were conceded were a bit unlucky but they possibly had a bit more quality in the end. Credit to them, they were the form side in the league.”

A happy Halifax captain Johnny McGuinness said, “We conceded early but we did what we had to do, it was a hard fought game today, it wasn’t an easy game but everyone stuck in and dug deep.”

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