A first half hat-trick by Matt Singleton and a fortuitous goal from Dom McCormick gave James a commanding lead before James’ reduction to 10 men galvanised Alcuin and made for a tough second half.
Both teams came into the match following wins last week and set out in the same vain, passing well up the pitch but lacking in the final pass. Two contrasting styles – Alcuin on the counter attack and James’ patient build-up – complemented each other and produced an intriguing opening period.
Half chances were exchanged inside the first 20 minutes; Simon Lovitt saving Singleton’s first effort of the afternoon and Sarin only managing to poke a shot harmlessly wide.
Two goals in quick succession broke the game’s rhythm. A corner from the left ricocheted off McCormick and into the bottom corner and, less than a minute later, Singleton struck a sublime finish into the top right when Alcuin failed to deal with a through ball.
James’ third came in more controversial circumstances. Singleton appeared to collect the ball in an offside position and, when the referee remained unmoved, he rounded Lovitt to put James three ahead and incense Alcuin.
A turn of pace and a smart finish gave Singleton his hat-trick, which might have come sooner were it not for a goal line clearance from Utha Ildeston.
Having seen James Edwards leave the field due to injury earlier in the first half, James lost Dom McCormick at the halfway point which resulted in a tough second half for James.
Alcuin emerged from the break playing a much more physical game; Matt Barrie in particular taking advantage of the referee’s lack of cards in his efforts to break up James’ attacks.
The Owls were growing into the game but James, like Alcuin in the first half, looked dangerous on the counterattack, helped in no small measure by Singleton’s pace and power.
Despite coping well for the majority of the half, James’ deficit in defence showed culminated in a penalty when Jeremy Nestor was bundled over just inside the area as James tried to reorganise. Nestor converted the penalty to give Alcuin a flicker of hope, which was quickly extinguished by James’ fifth goal – Singleton and Paddy Cox combining to put the latter on the scoresheet and the result in no doubt.
Speaking to Nouse after the match, James captain Dec Tuite praised his team for coping with the loss of McCormick, “It was a struggle when we went down to ten. We did well to maintain the win so I’m pleased with the boys.
Alcuin skipper, Matt Twin, was pleased with his team’s response in the second half, “We showed great intensity and character in the second half. We lacked a little bit of sharpness and physicality in the first half but we really added it to the game in the second half. There’s not much you can do about the refereeing at this level, but I thought we really coped with the circumstances really well and I’m pleased with the improvement in the second half.”
James firsts: Angus; Sangha, Tuite (C), McCormick, Austin; Fox, Cox, Hughton; McGuinness, Singleton, Edwards
Alcuin firsts: Lovitt; Cull, Tuton, Ilderton, Toumazou; Nestor, Barrie; Sarin, Heywood, Garn; McLarty
Player of the Match: Matt Singleton