Magic of the cup inspires football firsts to next round

The football firsts belied their shaky league form to advance to the next round of the cup, beating Northumbria seconds 3-0 yesterday…


BUCS Cup (Football) Men’s Second Round, Wednesday 19th November 2008

That indescribable magic of cup competition proved a refreshing tonic for York’s footballers this afternoon, who defied their shaky league form to progress into the BUCS Cup third round with an effortless home victory over Northumbria. A first-half strike from in-form Mark Gouland, his sixth of the season, was complemented after the interval by an opposition own goal and a late Anton Murphy finish against ten-man Northumbria.

Firsts captain Matt Witherwick will be abundantly hopeful that today’s performance, the perfect follow-up to Saturday’s 2-0 defeat of Leeds Met Carnegie, will be the springboard to greater consistency in a season that, to date, has been nauseatingly topsy-turvy. A stunning winning sequence in the Northern Universities League has been mirrored by infuriating disappointments in their other bread and butter, the BUCS Northern Conference 2B.

Such concerns were a distant priority today, however, and York represented excellent value for their cup progress. Incisive, imaginative and clinical throughout, the home team maintained their composure in what degenerated into a tetchy and tempestuous encounter during a one-sided second half.

Mens Football 1st v Northumbria, 19-11-08, Photo: Justyn Hardcastle

The prolific Mark Gouland found the back of the net once again for York

(Justyn Hardcastle)

With Dom O’Shea restored to the starting XI, York rediscovered a lost attacking dimension, while Laurie Swann was a late defensive inclusion, reducing Johnny McWilliams to a rare substitute place. The midfield was again reshuffled, with the impressive Chris Barnett obviously eager to prove himself, complimented by man-of-the-match Tom Wilson and the combative Joe Brennan.

York made a rampant start, throwing down the gauntlet with effective bursts down the flanks and the strikers happily dropping back into midfield to secure possession. Three minutes were on the clock, when this verve nearly paid off – Gouland seeing his 25-yard snapshot cannon off the left-hand upright with the Northumbria goalkeeper well beaten.

Tom Wilson, making intelligent runs, crafted another excellent opening moments later, crossing deliciously from the right, which was unselfishly nodded down by Gouland, though O’Shea, struggling to retain his balance, fired into the goalkeeper. Irrepressible, Wilson smashed another howitzer from range, the goalkeeper stretching athletically to parry the ball wide. York’s crossing from wide remained consistently accurate, although balls in to striker’s feet all too often bobbled on the unpredictable 22 Acres surface.

The breakthrough duly arrived, deservedly so, when O’Shea wriggled clear on the left, directing his effort straight at the goalkeeper. However, having burst blood vessels to support, Gouland took a neat touch to compose himself and slotted home to propel York on their way to the third round. Another Wilson assist found O’Shea on the cusp of half-time, but the returning striker, maybe not back to optimum fitness, blazed wildly over.

Having been told, quite rightly, by Witherwick in the half-time huddle to make things easier for themselves, York re-emerged keen to wrap up their anticipated victory. Brennan’s right-wing endeavour resulted in a testing low ball, but the onrushing Ian McKellow floated his shot over.

Mens Football 1st v Northumbria, 19-11-08, Photo: Justyn Hardcastle

Last season’s captain Dom O’Shea was back for York in attack

and played well despite being unable to get on the scoresheet

(Justyn Hardcastle)

Northumbria had offered little to justify their progress, although a Rory Delap wannabe caused momentary havoc in the home defence, assisted by a bitter northerly wind on the 22 Acres. The game’s defining moment proved devastating for Northumbria: following good build-up from O’Shea, McKellow’s questioning cross was turned in by an opposition centre-back.

Two goals down, the away side didn’t exactly aid their plight. With O’Shea resisting his niggling challenges all match, one of Northumbria’s defenders lashed out in an altercation with York’s ex-skipper and was promptly ejected. Both teams would acquire yellow cards in the final stages, the match quality plummeting faster than the temperatures in the gathering twilight.

Aiming to add a gloss to the scoreline, York continued to press. O’Shea slalomed between a phalanx of defenders, only for the advancing goalkeeper to smother his weak shot. With ten minutes remaining, Anton Murphy replaced him and injected some pace and skill into an otherwise dying contest. Starved of goals in the season so far, Murphy’s celebration said everything after he nonchalantly slipped the ball beyond the goalkeeper for 3-0, today’s mission having been completed.

The team must travel to Cheshire on Saturday for their next NUL fixture, before visiting Sheffield University in the BUCS League next Wednesday.

York line-up: 1. Andrew Emmerson, 2. Shaun Evans, 3. Ian McKellow, 6. Greg Gardner, 14. Laurie Swann, 12. Chris Barnett, 8. Tom Wilson, 5. Matt Witherwick (c), 7. Joe Brennan, 9. Dom O’Shea (11. Anton Murphy 80), 10. Mark Gouland

One comment

  1. 20 Nov ’08 at 1:22 pm

    Alex Fergerson

    Ant-on top of his game!