York seconds dumped out of BUCS Cup by Sheffield

For the second week in succession, York were beaten by Sheffield, this time in the first round of the BUCS Cup

Photograph by George Lowther

Photograph by George Lowther


Wednesday 28th October – BUCS Cup First Round

The feeling of déjà-vu on the Astroturf was palpable. For the second week in succession, York’s seconds were beaten by a team from Sheffield University. For a second week in succession, they were caught cold on the counter-attack and, once again, they failed to really express themselves despite the possibility of a cup upset.

While last week’s single-goal defeat to Sheffield’s fourth team registers only as a minor BUCS League setback, this week’s BUCS Cup exit against their third XI will definitely rankle more, especially as an intriguing second round clash with the York first team would have been their reward had they prevailed yesterday afternoon.

The recriminations were immediate. Billy Walsh, the firsts’ player representing the seconds in cup fixtures because of Postgraduate commitments, was confident in his tactical convictions and lectured the team at length post-match. In this morning’s Ziggy’s aftermath, his team-mates-for-the-day will realise he was right.

Walsh’s chief criticism were the lack of pressure exerted as Sheffield manoeuvred the ball at will for great lengths of the second period, exploiting the ample space available to carve out chance after chance. York’s predictable build-up play, which Sheffield were able to interpret and resist, will be another thing to work on in training before next week’s return to league action against Leeds.

Hockey 2nds, 28.10.09, Photo: George Lowther

York struggled to break down a well-drilled Sheffield defence in Wednesday afternoon’s BUCS Cup encounter. Photograph by George Lowther.

Indeed, it was surprising that Sheffield, having opened the scoring after only five minutes, took until the final whistle to put the game to bed. While not spectacular, the visitors were good value for their win and will relish hosting York’s firsts, who beat Sheffield Hallam thirds 3-1.

If York were to inflict damage on their Steel City opponents, who compete in the league above, they had to remain watertight in defence. Regrettably, and in a similar manner to last week, the opening goal resulted from slack defending. An intelligent through-ball left James Evans dealing with two Sheffield attackers and, after Tom Chevins was fooled, the ball was slammed home despite the presence of three defenders.

But it could have been so different. Walsh, who had shown an attacking bent quite literally from the kick-off, finished sublimely from an impossible angle, only for the goal to be chalked off for dangerous play. It was a dubious umpiring decision, denying what Walsh described afterwards as his ‘best ever goal.’

Hockey 2nds, 28.10.09, Photo: George Lowther

Hugh Richards gets a shot away against Sheffield thirds, but it was one of only a few chances created by York yesterday. Photograph by George Lowther.

York’s injections from the short corner had advanced immeasurably since last week and Hugh Richards, the Captain, forced an acrobatic save from the Sheffield goalkeeper after being fed the ball. Shortly before half-time, the custodian denied Walsh at full stretch, but this was as good as it would get for the home side.

Sheffield cranked up the pressure in search of the killer second, forcing a succession of corners, and pinged shots towards Chevin’s goal at regular intervals. York needed to break free of the incessant attacking waves but, with Walsh by this point confined to an MA seminar about finding journal articles, there was precious little going forward.

Nonetheless, the home defence held firm until the very last breath, with Evans outstanding. The umpires had signalled full-time was imminent when a Sheffield shot on the turn settled this one, but it was a deserved second.

“We only had a few chances in the whole game, so it’s pretty disappointing,” said Will Fresson, the York winger, afterwards. “Our first touch control let us down today and left easy pickings for Sheffield.”