UNIVERSITY OF YORK 3 – 8 UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS
BUCS Northern Conference Cup
Having come away with a 4-1 win the last time the men’s hockey firsts took on Leeds’ seconds team in a December BUCS League fixture, York went into this last 16 Cup game with every chance of progressing to the quarter finals and emulating the success of the women’s firsts, who had managed the feat a week previously.
However, it was not to be for the Black and Gold side, in a cold and frustrating fixture on the astro, in which each minute passage of play proved hugely influential.
Following a fairly close and slow-paced opening five minutes, first blood went to Leeds, who were quick to seize upon a midfield interception and create a shot out of nowhere – firing home past a stunned Chaundy, caught off his line. This was swiftly followed by a seemingly impossible reverse stick shot by an unmarked Leeds player, and a stony-faced Law – York’s coach – could only look on as another deflected shot was snatched up by a Leeds forward and converted. 3-0 down in just ten minutes.
Excellent passing around the D by the visiting side epitomised the on-pitch mood, with momentum very much in Leeds’ favour, and an uncalled foul allowed a swift passage of play down the right and into a fourth goal. York players were throwing up their hands at some questionable umpiring, although even a few poor decisions was not enough to justify such an immediate 4-0 deficit.
With Leeds forcing the home side to push up in defence, it was only a matter of time before they conceded again, and a solo effort was permitted to weave through an uncommunicative wall of defenders, to make it 5-0, with York yet to make any mark upon the game.
There was almost instantly the opportunity for Leeds to make it 6-0, but Cotter, a real constant for York, streaked back to save the day, and then set up Tom Armston-Clarke to make a lovely through ball to Hugo Christie, who – at full pelt – managed to send a scorching shot into the top corner, to give slight hope to the home team as the half ended 5-1.
York needed to build upon this momentum going into the second half, and Fred Isaac and Cotrter noticeably stepped up the pace of their transition play, unleashing Sam Richardson and Phil Blackburn for a couple of threatening efforts, and – for the first time – challenging Leeds’ defence.
York then received their first short corner, which saw an effortlessly stunning drag flick by Christie earn his second goal, a conversion that seemed to inspire the team to increase the tempo and flair of their game.
However, this was short-lived, as a miscalculated long ball left Leeds on the attack, several players up around the D, and soon able to put away a sixth. Frustration at miscommunications between the umpires and Leeds converting their own subsequent short corner left York playing in near-silence, and with a tension that almost came to a head after a incident of unprompted physicality from a Leeds player saw several team members squaring up. A yellow card was given and nothing more came of it, but tackles were certainly growing more ruthless in the closing stages of this game.
There was a final flutter of excitement for York supporters, with Jono Butler having a brilliant passage of play and the second of his perfectly-placed through balls led to York’s second short corner, which was sublimely converted by Christie. This was followed by a fantastic run from Richardson culminating in a closely missed shot, but these efforts were not enough to change the result of this frustrating match, which – adding insult to injury – saw a final goal trickle in in the last five minutes, following a set of scrappy midfield passes from both teams, giving Leeds the win, 8-3.
Nish Selvakumar, speaking on behalf of team captain Phil Blackburn, said: “The team played really well: we came up against quite a strong opposition – a few new faces for Leeds 2’s, but all in all it was a good Cup run from us, and we’ve done ourselves proud.”