Alcuin Firsts scored the first goal of their College Cup campaign and sealed a win at the third attempt, beating Halifax Fifths 1-0 in Group B.
UYAFC striker Cameron McLarty’s low finish earned what was the Owls’ second win in eight Cup matches across the last two years.
Alcuin dictated the tempo throughout but Halifax are a well-drilled side and they kept their opponents at arms length for much of the piece, restricting them to long-range efforts.
Perhaps the best chance of the first half came in the first ten seconds, when a quick combination between Matt Twin and McLarty caught the Fax defence on their heels. In the end, the latter’s effort from 12 yards was fielded by Joseph Shufflebootham.
Midfielder Matt Barrie came close minutes later when he turned a firm header on target straight from Jeremy Nestor’s floated corner, although Josh Wildman was on the post and on hand to clear.
Halifax continue to belie their nomenclature with a series of gutsy displays that are not being reflected in results. Aidan De Guzman, their outstanding individual, whipped a shot on target from range and, later in the first half, captain Eric Farrington was just denied by Neil Lawrence who dived at his feet to claim.
Michael Garn drifted in from the left-hand side, but his shots from distance lacked the direction to test Shufflebootham unduly.
In the final third, Alcuin are a perpetual frustration. Their forward line is staffed by several UYAFC players but, when they play together, they are either not selfish enough to shoot at goal or lack quality when they do- or both.
Halifax took heart with the game goalless, and Farrington nearly got his team a goal when he latched on to a long ball and almost lifted it into the top right hand corner over Lawrence, pedalling back furiously. Rangy midfielder Jonny Broomfield then fired a shot over the bar on the move, after consigning Ruari Ward to the astro with a firm challenge.
With fifteen minutes to play, Barrie’s shot was blocked by a defender and the ball broke through for McLarty, who showed the necessary composure to slot it across the keeper and into the bottom left. The wild celebrations were indicative of the sheer relief felt by his colleagues.
Garn very nearly made it two when his cute half-volley, after a corner had been cleared, sailed narrowly wide of the left post.
Halifax had a couple of half-chances towards the end, but the result wasn’t really in doubt at that stage. They are winless after their first three games and with Derwent 3s and Vanbrugh 2s still to play, have a fight on their hands to make the Vase.
Alcuin will hope that the second half of their Group B campaign is better than the first- they have the chance to make it happen, starting against James Firsts next week.
Alcuin: Lawrence; Heywood, Ilderton, Tuton, Toumazou; Sarin, Barrie, Nestor, Garn; Twin, McLarty
Substitutes: Ward, Strong
Man of the Match: Matt Barrie
Halifax: Shufflebootham; Wildman, Legros, Edwards, Hobson; Price, De Guzman, Kelly, Broomfield, Picker, Farrington
Substitutes: Trenerry, Roberts
Man of the Match: Jerome Legros