Photos: Zoe Bennell
UYHC Ladies’ 1sts secured their league survival in the final BUCS fixture of the season by beating valiant Leeds Metropolitan 2-1 on the JLD.
In the battle to avoid relegation, Izi Hutchinson’s side rode their luck at times, but ultimately were rewarded for their sheer endeavour, with ‘keeper Liz Furber turning in a match-winning display in their successful fight against the drop. In the end, a bundled first-half goal accredited to Hermione Warmington and a composed finish from Polly Sedgwick were enough to stave off an all-or-nothing fightback from Leeds in the dying embers of the game.
The game began with a cagey atmosphere, as the White Rose initially built their attacks upon solid defensive organisation. Their opponents presented a stern physical test, but the hosts played with a real verve and vigour, which, coupled with their disciplined solidity, proved a formidable mix.
A draw would have been enough to keep the White Rose in the league, but that did not stop them from going for the jugular from the off. Emma Beresford and Minerva Saner looked dangerous going forward and York always appeared the likelier to score despite prolonged periods of Leeds possession. The home side got their reward just before the interval after earning a short corner, when a frantic passage of play resulted in the ball being scrambled home by Warmington to put York in command.
In the second-half, Leeds came flying out of the traps, knowing that only a win would do for them to stay up. Their high-line pressing game made them vulnerable to the counter, though, as Saner was frequently able to escape the attentions of the Leeds defence, running at them with pace, but to no avail as Leeds managed to clear.
At the other end, a series of Leeds short corners were largely well-marshalled by Hutchinson’s defence, and Furber underlined her credentials by beating the ball clear whenever required.
The see-saw nature of the game continued, as Hutchinson picked Saner out with a superb through-ball, but the winger was unable to pick out the waiting Beresford, who would have been one-on-one with the visiting ‘keeper.
York were soon able to double their lead, though, as the ball broke to Sedgwick in the area following a great attack, and she had the composure to slot the ball home and tighten York’s grip on league survival.
From this point on, it was time for an all-out onslaught by a desperate Leeds Met. York were dropping deeper and deeper to protect their lead, but the visitors found a way through from a short corner to make it 2-1, halving the deficit and ensuring a nervy finish to the game.
Time and again, they looked on the verge of finding an equaliser, only to be denied by the heroics of Furber, who threw her body on the line to protect the hosts’ lead.
Ultimately, York managed to get the ball up the field and kept the ball deep in opposition territory, closing out the game and cementing their place in the Northern 2B League for next season. The final whistle was greeted with rapturous celebration by the watching crowd, as one delighted spectator promptly disrobed himself and set off on a victory lap of the JLD in commemoration of York’s vital win. All-in-all, the evening represented a great victory for UYHC, and rounded off the BUCS season with a bang.
After the match, captain Izi Hutchinson said: “We’re obviously thrilled with the result. We put in a great team performance in front of a fabulous crowd. Our passing was fantastic, goals were good and our determination was even better! I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. A great way to end the season!”