Twelve goals from Halifax, including eight from Garo Heath, made for a devastating debut for Alcuin seconds in the College Football Premier Division.
Keeping out ‘Fax’s potent attacking threat was a daunting enough task for the Alcuin Owls before their situation was considered. Only two players survived from Alcuin’s promoted side of last year, and the lack of cohesion was exposed emphatically by a fluid and familiar Halifax outfit.
Debuting captain Elliot Tester sent a warning signal to Alcuin, firing into the side netting within two minutes of kick-off. The first rupture of the Alcuin back line came from the whistle of the referee.
A cynical foul on Garo Heath from Joe Turner was judged a penalty despite being a yard outside the area. Heath stepped up and slotted a crisp spot kick into the bottom-left corner.
Heath added his second minutes later, cutting onto his right and firing across Green into the same corner as his first.
The Owls halved the deficit soon after. A floated free kick from Andy Cull cleared the ‘Fax defence and dropped to the feet of Lawrence McLellan-Bastidas who scored from point-blank range.
The joy of an inaugural Premier Division goal for Alcuin seconds was soured by Heath’s third goal within minutes of the restart. An over-hit corner was worked back to Heath on the edge of the 18-yard box whose shot left Green rooted to the spot.
Tester made it four with a brilliant finish. ‘Fax full-back Matt Birtles beat Alex Wray for pace and cut back to Tester whose deft finish dropped into the bottom corner.
Joy for Tester was balanced by despair for his Alcuin counterpart. Matt Strong, captaining the seconds for the first time, miscued a clearance and saw it drop to Heath who prodded past Green to give ‘Fax their fifth and Heath his fourth.
Failure to communicate led to Alcuin’s sixth concession. Turner dwelled on the ball, unaware of the approaching George Waring, who was able to pickpocket Turner and lash a low shot past Green.
Two touches and an emphatic finish gave Heath his fifth, and the UYAFC forward did not have to wait long until his sixth. A pinpoint ball from Birtles was met by a late run from Heath and his bullet header gave Green no chance.
Heath’s seventh, a tap in at the back post, put Alcuin briefly eight behind before returning striker Ben Carver nodded in an accurate cross from Strong.
Halifax’s ruthless first half display put Alcuin 9-2 down and threatened further punishment in the second period.
The restart offered no encouragement for the Owls. Lukas Girzadas found his captain, Tester, in behind Alcuin and the latter lifted the ball over a stranded Green. Ten turned to eleven thanks to a catastrophic misunderstanding. The ball trickled through to Luke Green who, under the impression that the referee had awarded a penalty, knocked the ball to Heath, who simply tapped in to take his personal tally to eight.
Halifax returned the favour with ten minutes to go. Mark Howorth, under no pressure, played a blind pass back to his goalkeeper only to see the ‘keeper behind him, waiting for the ball which trickled in, adding the only blot to an otherwise imperious performance.
‘Fax were far enough ahead to take the mistake humorously and Alcuin were too far behind for it to spark any resurgence.
Girzadas got a deserved goal at the death. His superior movement again exposed the Owls’ lack of a recognised centre-half, and earned him space to take his time and slot past Green.
Halifax were ruthless and good value for the score line. Surprisingly, the defeat could have been worse for the Owls were it not for an encouraging first outing for defender Andy Cull and some fine reflex saves from Green.
Halifax captain, Elliot Tester, was pleased with his team’s performance, especially in the first half: “We played really well. Alcuin clearly weren’t as fit as us, most of us play uni so we’re much fitter.”
Tester singled out his former skipper Heath for praise, commenting: “When you’ve got Garo in your team, you’re going to score goals. It’s ridiculous – every time he got the ball he scored.”
Alcuin: Green; Bennell, Cull, Turner, Wray; Strong, Farrant, McLellan-Bastidas, Ward, Hargett; Carver
Halifax: Basu; Birtles, Howarth, White, Girzadas; Johnson, Marsh, Tester; Heath, Waring, Dunning
Subs: Chadli, Goldthorpe, Smith
Man of the Match: Garo Heath