AFTER THEIR HEROICS in the UYAFC derby last week to pick up their first three points of the season, the 2s moved their attention away from the BUCS Northern 5B League onto their Northern Conference Cup first round clash with Liverpool John Moores’ 4s.
On paper it seemed like a bit of a mismatch, with LJMU 4s currently in the Northern 7A league. However, coming into this match they could boast 18 goals in their previous two games – momentum which carried them through to a 2-1 defeat of UYAFC 2s.
Before the game, 2s captain Micka Singh was not quite sure what to expect from their opponents: “I’m not expecting it to be the same kind of quality as anyone we’ve played so far. The pitch might suit them so it’ll only be easy if we get a hold early.”
And get a hold early they did. For the first half an hour on 22 Acres, the difference in league showed. York looked much sharper, with Ramzi Aweida winning every aerial battle and Will Kitching displaying his range of passing to find wingers Takagishi and Binesmael in space. The first real chance came in the 10th minute with a great curling effort from Takagishi, which was just finger-tipped over the bar by the away goalkeeper.
LJMU were restricted to very few chances in the first 40 minutes. A long shot well-saved by Grace and an offside effort wide of the goal were their only real chances. Then, very much against the run of play, LJMU nicked a goal late into the first half. A long ball forward looked to be dealt with comfortably by York; however, miscommunication between Leach and Grace, both leaving it for each other, allowed LJMU to get to the ball first and poke an effort into the bottom right corner.
Before I could finish making a note of LJMU’s goal, the ball was then smashed home by Takagishi after cutting in from the right-hand side, working his way into the box and unleashing a hard, low drive past a helpless keeper. UYAFC 2s would have felt hard done by in letting themselves go down 0-1 but they could not be faulted in their reaction. A mere 60 seconds between the two goals exhibited a climactic finish to the first half, as both sides went into the break on level terms – the least York deserved.
UYAFC 2s were quick out of the blocks in the second half, with Takagishi almost converting a carbon copy of his first goal. This time, though, his effort was well blocked. Another chance came his way minutes later: this time on his left peg, but again it was well-saved high in the goal.
It was a similar story to the first-half: the 2s were in the ascendancy, piling on pressure, attack after attack; yet they could not capitalise on their momentum. A mixture of bad fortune and good defending by LJMU facilitated this and meant the game remained at 1-1. Substitute Roberts (on for the injured Tom Clapham) saw his bullet header whizz past the wrong side of the post from a corner.
Just as a wave ebbs and flows, York soon lost the foothold they had in the game. LJMU started to string together a few attacks and Kitching soon found himself clearing the ball excellently off the line. LJMU were now showing signs of the free-scoring team that had bagged 18 goals in two games.
Then came the match’s defining moment. York, amid a goalmouth scramble, had two shots, both near the penalty spot, which were blocked by some dedicated last-ditch defending by LJMU. York could have, perhaps should have, put themselves in front.
LJMU then had the ball on the counter-attack and capitalised on this rare chance at goal with a high finish from the centre of the box, to leave York ruing those two vital chances just before the goal.
The 2s resiliently came from behind to win against the 3s last week, but that 71st minute goal proved to be the winner, as York, despite their best efforts, which included bringing goalkeeper Grace up for corners, could not find another equaliser. Their best chance to do so fell to Takagishi, a worthy man of the match contender, who put a free-kick just over the bar. Another late chance fell to Sam Bayliss, but he got too much on Aweida’s cross and headed over.
The 2s will now focus on their upcoming away league clash with Teesside on 1 November, where they will hope to get back to winning ways.
Elsewhere, the 1s progressed into the second round after a 2-1 away derby win against Hull 1s, while the 3s went through without even taking to the field, as Wrexham 2s failed to field a full team. The 4s joined the 2s in a first-round cup exit, after their 5-2 defeat away to Leeds in which they were forced to play an hour with 10 men after an early sending off.