Halifax edge tense thriller

Halifax and Derwent played out a very close match in the College Varsity Qualifiers, but it was Halifax that came out on top after a penalty shootout

DERWENT 2-2 HALIFAX (Halifax win 3-1 on penalties)
College Varsity qualifiers semi-final

A penalty shootout was needed to split Derwent and Halifax in their Varsity qualifier. Conditions on the 3G made a lot of chance-creating play impossible.

However, Halifax had the wind behind them, meaning that their play was becoming increasingly threatening and Derwent often found themselves camped in their own half. It took seventeen minutes for a genuine chance to come about; a snaking run from Fax’s Connor Meckin down the right led to a dangerous cross being played across goal.

A Halifax goal finally came just before the half-hour mark. Connor McCoy made use of the wind as he cut inside and fired a left-footed curling shot, which fizzed off the corner of the goal-frame.

However, as the ball came back down into the penalty area, it was handled by Derwent right-back Mark Askham and the referee rightly called a penalty. McCoy stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and give his side a deserved lead. Halifax happily saw the rest of the half out, with Derwent’s only shot on target coming from a Ryan Gwinnett free-kick.

Derwent had the wind in their favour in the second half, and it was certainly telling as they took control of possession. Straight from the restart, striker Eddie Fotheringham burst down the left side and sent off a shot that was denied by the base of the far post.

After lengthy spells of excellent ball play, it wasn’t long before Derwent finally got their equaliser. Substitute Joe Easter burst through the centre of midfield fired off a dangerous shot that was spilled by Sim, allowing Fotheringham to tuck the ball home from a few yards out.

Derwent were in full flow and it only took another ten minutes before they found the goal that would put them in the lead. A quick free kick was played inside to Easter, and the University talisman was on hand to direct an unstoppable low shot into the bottom near post of Sim’s goal.

Nevertheless, the spirit of Fax failed to falter when they brought about an instant equaliser against the run of play just a minute later.

McCoy broke through the centre on the break and, after a clever one-two, he was through on goal and able to round the goalkeeper slot ting away his equaliser.

Derwent threw everything at Halifax as they looked for the winner. Gwinnett, Fotheringham and Josh Bew tested Sim in the final twenty minutes, but the veteran shot-stopper was comfortably able to block whatever came at him.

The 2-2 score at the final whistle led to a penalty shoot-out. Gennoy’s opening penalty for Halifax was easily fallen on by Aylett, whilst Gwinnett slotted his spot-kick home for Derwent. However, Derwent missed their next three with Sam Earle hitting the post, Fotheringham sending his wide and Weighall’s being decisively saved by Sim, whilst Halifax coolly scored their next three penalties to put them through to the final.

A delighted Halifax captain, Connor McCoy, told Nouse: “We stuck with it well and we had Jonny Sim in goal so there’s no better goalkeeper for penalty shoot-out, is there?”

Dave Belshaw, the Derwent captain, said: “We were in control of the game at 2-1; we started the second half really well but we just let them back in with a goal and we gave them something to hold on to. But I can’t fault the effort of the lads; we gave it everything today but it just wasn’t enough.”

James won the final against Halifax 4-2 meaning they will be the top ranked team for the competition against Durham despite playing two games in one day. Goal scorers were Josh Spurling, James Briars and Matt Singleton.

Derwent: Aylett, Askham, Shelbourne, Belshaw (C) (Easter (Bew)), Tapper, Naylor (Fisher), Kirb, Earle (Whittall), Delay (Weighall), Gwinnett, Fotheringham

Halifax: Sim, Hobson, Heap, Bull, Howerth, Bowden, Gennoy, McCoy (C), Meckin, Heath (Knott), Miller

Player of the match: Jonny Sim

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