Sublime James stroll past Halifax

Despite playing two games in the same day, James put in a superb performance to stroll past Halifax and qualify as York’s top team for Varsity

College Varsity qualifiers final

Images: Petroc Taylor

On a freezing cold and bitterly windy 3G, James overcame the white shirts of Halifax by four goals to two to be crowned the top team in the college football Varsity qualifiers. After beating Vanbrugh 5-1 earlier in the day, James extended their run of prolific form to overcome Halifax.

The match got off to a flyer as James won a corner which then resulted in their first goal. Freddie Ferrao whipped in a nice ball from the corner which was met with a powerful header from Josh Spurling, leaving Halifax keeper Jonny Sim powerless as James took an early lead.

However, Halifax provided an instant reply as Garo Heath struck a venomous shot past James keeper Andy Balzan to level the scores at 1-1 inside the first five minutes.

However, just a few minutes later, James regained the lead after Spurling executed a fantastically weighted through ball down the right which sent James striker James Briars chasing. Briars then left Sim helpless with a cheeky dink over the keeper to send the ball bouncing into the back of the net, making it 2-1 to James.

James’ Andrew Jopson then burst into life down the right wing with a fast, electric run which resulted in him pulling the ball back for striker Matt Singleton to provide a simple finish into the Halifax goal making the score 3-1 to James. Jopson could have had a goal himself almost immediately after the restart as he launched a ferocious shot from the right across the face of goal to the back post, but Sim managed to get a glove to the ball sending it out of play.

The quick tempo and slick passing of James was clearly enhanced by the 3G pitch itself and this was shown through a move that saw Singleton and Briars link up well. Singleton gave the ball to Briars from the left who hit a return pass straight away before moving into the box. Singleton then pulled the ball back to Briars who was unlucky to put his shot over after some great link up play.

Halifax had chances as well though, Dan Jones hit a very neat shot which sailed just past the post and Heath was clean through on goal and should have scored with a first time finish but he took a touch which allowed Balzan to sweep the ball up into his hands. Eventually, Halifax got their second goal of the day as Heath managed to capitalise on some confusion in the James box to take the score line to 3-2 with a scrappy finish. The scores remained 3-2 at half time.

Immediately after the half time break, Halifax’s Kieran Bowden was replaced with Connor McCoy whilst Tom Heap was replaced by Henry Collins. James captain Ralph Gill then made a crucial interception on the half way line, preventing a Halifax attack before following it up with his own attacking move, driving into the heart of the Halifax defence and winning a free kick. The free kick was taken by Ferrao and it was good enough to cause some confusion in the box, eventually the ball fell to Singleton’s feet whose subsequent shot was cleared away.

The game started to settle now with chances becoming sparser for either side but James had a good opportunity through Singleton, who was slipped in by a through ball that carved the Halifax defence open. Singleton tried to chip the keeper but his chip wasn’t quite high enough as his effort was saved. The game then began to pick up in the closing stages as Heath had a half chance to equalise for Halifax.

Heath was put through on goal but he was at a stretch and as a result his first touch let the ball get away from him and into the hands of Balzan. Eventually James put the game beyond doubt, Briars picked up the ball in the middle of the park and played a nicely weighted ball into Singleton on his left who provided a nice curling first time finish in the far corner to finish the game 4-2 with James crowned the overall winners of the college football Varsity qualifiers.

After the match, James captain Ralph Gill spoke to Nouse saying, “Our performance overall was simply heroic, after playing a match not two hours earlier and to come out and put in an unbelievable performance like that, I was astounded really. We knew they [Halifax] would have great attacking options but we managed to cancel any real threat out to win both halves of the game, I’m delighted.”

Halifax: Sim, Howarth, Ball, Heap (Collins), Brooks, Gennoy, Bowden (McCoy[C]), Meckin, Heath, Jones, Knot

James: Balzan, Edwards (Baker), Alhasan, Gill (C), Sangha (Haresnape), Ferrao, Fox, Spurling, Jopson, Briars, Singleton

Man of the Match: Matt Singleton

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