Photographs by Daniel Golton
Halifax 1sts are through to the semi finals of the college cup, following a somewhat routine win over James 2nds. There were few questions asked of Fax from the swans and on a hot afternoon on the JLD they were able to boost their confidence in the competition with a comfortable display that may see them as the dark horses of this years competition.
Halifax were a team on a mission from the word go, with fast paced movement and a very physical approach, commanding possession in the opening minutes. Kieran Gennoy supplied a dangerous ball in from the first corner of the game, finding the head of captain Connor McCoy who headed over the bar. It didn’t take long however for Fax to open the scoring, Garo Heath sprinted down the byline, dodging the many defenders in his way and from that position it is difficult to tell whether a shot or cross was intentional but his low ball in fired into the far corner, beyond Andy Balzan and gave his side the lead in the quarter final.
They weren’t hanging around, and James seemed shocked by the intensity of their opponents, unable to match them in pace or reaction as they fell two behind, McCoy pulling back a cross to Meckin who finished comfortably to put his team two goals to the good with a long way to go. Just as it began to be apparent that James were yet to test keeper Jonny Sim, the 2nds were gifted a way back into the match thanks to a calamity in defence for the 1sts. Sim played to the ball out to Pilides standing just outside the area, but lack of options to play the ball forward meant the midfielder passed back to the keeper, under hitting the ball with Ralph Gill ready to pounce. The 1sts captain beat Sim to the ball and stabbed home to rid Halifax of their relaxation mode, the game was back on.
Halifax responded with some good supplying balls forward from midfield, the pick of the bunch from McCoy which was punched away by Balzan and Meckin was unable to turn in the rebound, James able to clear the danger away. Although they had now halved the deficit, the mistake in the fax defence was the only real chance James created and as half time arrived it was clear they would need to improve to have a hope of progressing,
Halifax nearly claimed back their two goal lead after the break when McCoy’s long range free kick drifted through the players in the box and nearly ended up in the net via a deflection from a James defender. The next goal mirrored the previous, Halifax increasing the lead and seemingly putting the game firmly beyond their opponents, this time James providing the gift after a misjudgment between the two centre backs allowed Heath to pick up the lose ball and lob the charging Balzan, the ball slowly gliding in to the net.
Halifax continued to press and had many opportuntites to increase the scoreline, Meckin had a good game running riot down the wing while McCoy continued to curl in crosses for Heath and Meckin who were unable to convert. James’ only clear chance of the second half came after Bowden was caught out of position when a Fax attack was quickly brushed away, Allen used the space to his advantage, passing to Gill in the box but his shot was blocked, with the fax defence scrambling to get the ball clear. Meckin rounded off a good day’s work for the holders with a calm chip over Balzan after a busting run from midfield, ending the game 4-1 and setting up a tie with either James 1sts or Langwith 1sts which if they win, will mean they will enter their 4 fourth final on a row.
Halifax Connor McCoy: ‘We’re by far the best team in the tournament so I expect nothing less. James are obviously not a very good college, hopefully we can score a few more against their 1sts’.
James 2nds captain Ameer Alhasan: ‘I thought today that we were not the better team, we were just a bit of a gear behind them, however that said I think if we got that 4th goal to make it 2-2 instead of 3-1 in the the second half the game would have been very different I think’.