Photos: Zoe Bennell
James College were beaten by six goals to three by Durham’s Hatfield College on the JLD. In the top-billed hockey fixture f0r this weekend’s inaugural College Varsity, Ollie McGaw’s side were well-beaten by Hatfield in the wet conditions, despite an encouraging second-half performance in which they outscored their Durham conterparts.
But Chris Butterworth’s brace and a good finish from Declan Hall ultimately proved futile as Hatfield’s superiority shone through over the course of 70 minutes.
The game had a frantic opening, with the away side scoring two early goals to stun the hosts. Butterworth’s penalty flick gave James a foothold in the match, but they were largely unable to match the speed and guile of Hatfield for large periods, eventually going into the interval a daunting 5-1 down.
After the break, the Swans were pegged back even further when Hatfield scored following a short corner to extend their tally to six goals. The goal seemed to spring the hosts to life, though, as the James players began to take on a nothing-to-lose, cavalier approach to the match.
Their movement off the ball and passing improved markedly, with Nick Mitchell and Tim Silcock seeing a lot of the ball in Hatfield territory. Mitchell spurned a chance from a difficult angle mid-way through as James endeavoured to claw their way back towards a respectable scoreline.
The breakthrough did come in the end, as some deft touches and a shot-cum-cross from Joss Winter was gleefully swept in by Butterworth as the rain continued to fall.
Minutes later, James reduced the arrears to a three-goal margin, as forward Declan Hall pounced to stroke the ball in. The Swans were looking far the better side by this point, as complacency crept into the Hatfield players.
But despite their much-improved display, a comeback of this magnitude was always going to prove a step too far, as the game slowly ground to a halt. As the final whistle blew, the scoreline may have looked ominous, but the James players can be rightly proud of their second-half display in which they gave the travelling Durham side a good run for their money.
After the match, James captain Ollie McGaw told Vision: “It was a great game against great opposition. The first half was all Hatfield. We definitely picked it up after the break, I think everyone would agree with that assessment. It was a lot tighter in the second period, and we’re happy with the overall performance. Well done to Hatfield.”