The tie between last term’s Revolution Premier Division champions and last year’s College Cup champions should have been a close encounter, especially given the strength of the two teams fielded.
However, lapses in concentration and misplaced passes cost Halifax dear as they faded in the second half to go down 6-2 to a solid Derwent side.
Both teams started in their usual quick fashion, embodied by Jamie Trant’s bursting runs with which Guy Bowden – playing in an unfamiliar central role – struggled to cope. A scuffed shot from Trant and a spectacular last ditch tackle ensured that Trant’s pace did not pay immediate dividends.
Halifax had chances of their own, and took the lead after ten minutes. Derwent captain Ryan Gwinnett gave away a corner under good pressure from the ‘Fax forwards. The resulting corner was whipped to the front post and met by a breakaway run from Collins who fired past Mark Johnston in the Derwent goal.
Derwent sought an immediate response and almost managed just that when Joe Easter bisected the Halifax defence to send Trant clear. However The, Trant got the ball stuck beneath his own feet, and when he did square the ball it was cut out by Bowden.
Trant and Bowden would be involved in the equaliser. Bowden played a ball across his own six yard box but had not seen Trant lurking. The ball fell for the UYAFC forward who gratefully accepted Bowden’s gift to pull his side level, and to set the tone for the rest of the match.
In keeping with the equaliser, Halifax had a hand in Derwent’s second goal. Mike Whittall sent a long ball from the left into the penalty area and, under a challenge from midfielder Mirhire Ovaro-Tarimo, Ollie Bull could not control his header, only able to watch at the ball floated into the top corner to put Derwent ahead for the first time.
‘Fax captain Garo Heath instantly restored parity. From the kick-off, Halifax played the ball around the edge of the area, working the ball from right to left. The ball came to Connor McCoy, whose pass released Garo Heath who was able to fire past an onrushing Johnston.
Despite match Derwent blow for blow, Halifax were destined to go into the break 3-2 down. Joe Easter put his side ahead in spectacular fashion. The Derwent midfielder noticed ‘keeper Colman had strayed off his line, and fired an unstoppable shot over Colman’s head and just under the crossbar from all of 20 yards to send his team into raptures.
Half-time came, and Halifax rightfully counted themselves unlucky to be going in behind having matched Derwent both physically and technically.
Unfortunately for Halifax, instead of pushing on in the second half, a defensive error set them back within the first five minutes of the restart.
A poor pass-back to Colman left the ‘keeper short. Consequently, Colman was forced into a miskick which fell kindly for Eddie Fotheringham on the edge of the area. With virtually the whole goal at his mercy, and all the time he could wish for, Fotheringham slotted a cool finish past Colman to put some daylight between the two sides for the first time.
The seventh goal of the match – Derwent’s fifth – sealed the result for the now league leaders. Ollie Bull who, along with Guy Bowden had been given a torrid time by Jamie Trant all game, finally succumbed to the pace of the UYAFC striker.
Bull committed to a challenge, but was beaten to the ball by Trant leaving the Derwent man one-on-one with Colman in the ’Fax goal. Trant had the finish to match his run, curling a sublime finish into the bottom corner ensuring that we now need look to last academic year to see the time Derwent firsts last lost a league game.
Halifax were visibly frustrated and disheartened as they knew that the score did not reflec the difference between the two teams. Guy Bowden lost his head and was lucky to escape punishment when he kicked the ball at the face of the referee having been particularly displeased with a decision to give a foul against him. Trant had the opportunity to at least inflict some punishment on the ‘Fax defender, but scuffed a harmless free-kick wide of the post.
The final goal encapsulated the match for Halifax – good intentions going forward but unlucky and error strewn at the back. ‘Fax keeper Colman ran to collect the ball to give to Bull to take a quick throw in. However, Colman failed to run back to his goal quick enough, and when Bull’s throw in bounced unkindly for Bowden, Ryan Gwinnett was able to run in, nick the ball off the forehead of his opponent and lob the still retreating goalkeeper.
Whilst the performance was a frustrating one, Halifax know that by ironing out defensive mishaps, they will be able to cause problems for any team in the Premier Division.
This was a concept reflected in ‘Fax skipper, “They’ve gone ahead and then sat back a little bit. Then we carried on making stupid errors, giving the ball away. There’s potential, but we just need to cut out the sloppy errors.”
Whilst complementary about his side’s first half performance, Heath credited the change in tactics from Derwent as the reason for the final score. “We’ve outplayed them in the first half. In the second half they’ve dropped off and got us on the counter.”
Derwent captain Ryan Gwinnett gave credit to the first half performance of Halifax, telling Nouse, “In the first half we didn’t match them at all. Thankfully they’ve given us a couple of freebies”
He did go on to add that he was pleased with his side’s second half performance, even though they were lacking their usual profligacy. “In the first half we came out and actually started playing our football. We must have had 10 or 12 chances but we’ve been a bit wasteful. I was really pleased with the final half an hour, we killed the game off and didn’t give them anything defensively.”