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Hat-trick from Atherton sees Derwent firsts into the final

A superb hat-trick from Dan Atherton earned Derwent a thumping 4-1 victory over Halifax seconds in today's College Cup semi-final

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A superb hat-trick from Dan Atherton earned Derwent a thumping 4-1 victory over Halifax seconds in today's College Cup semi-final.

A fraught affair saw Luke Charles and Alex Bone of Halifax sent-off and Derwent awarded two penalties, both of which they converted.

The first half of the game gave no indication of the drama to follow as neither side were able to carve out any clear-cut opportunities. Derwent, missing Xander Brinkworth, David Kirk and Andy Jeffreys, lined up with tournament top goalscorer Jon Garness up top and last season's captain Dom Henney alongside Josh Baines at the back, and it was Baines who had the first Derwent chance of the match, heading over a Matt Hallam free-kick at the far post.

Luke Charles had earlier curled a free-kick over the bar for his side and Halifax tested out Seb Treasure in the Derwent net again when Elliot Ragan pounced on a loose ball outside the box only to shoot straight at the keeper.

Soon after Halifax nearly took the lead following a corner via an acrobatic Mark Lund overhead kick but his attempt went wide of the post, much to the disappointment of the crowd.

Ragan and Atherton then exchanged chances of their own with the Halifax man speculatively firing high and wide and the Derwent striker going closer with his effort but still to no avail. With time running out in the first half the team in blue and black broke out from a corner but Garness was unable to find his strike-partner Atherton.

The game exploded into life after the interval with Derwent taking the lead from the penalty spot. Atherton broke down the right and put in a cross aimed for Garness, it was intercepted by defender Alex Simon but unfortunately for him and his side he had slid and referee Dan Horsfall had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Nav Jabarkhyl stepped up and cooly slotted home to make it 1-0 to the firsts side.

Halifax were soon back on level terms however following an uncharacteristic mistake from Seb Treasure; an effort lacking any power was hit straight at him but the keeper fumbled, allowing Hamish Denham to poke home and level arrears.

The end-to-end nature of the second half was demonstrated as minutes later Derwent found themselves 2-1 up again. Halifax keeper Dean Hanson attempted to deal with a long ball over the top but a deflection saw him handball it outside the area. Halifaxers on the touchline argued that their man could have done nothing to get his hands out of the way but nevertheless Atherton stepped up to curl in a lovely free-kick into the top corner of Hanson's net.

Derwent's confidence now clearly buoyed they nearly made it three. Another Hallam corner found Baines at the far post but his header was cleared off the line by the well-placed Ben Rea, Hallam followed up but his effort cleared the bar.

Luke Charles then fired over from long-distance before Halifax began to get themselves in trouble with the ref, with both Alex Simon and Sam Dempster finding themselves in the book.

With the 'Fax pushing for an equaliser they introduced Andy Wallace and Fraser Moyle and the latter so nearly made an instant impact, heading over at the far post when he perhaps should have done better. The two then almost combined again but Moyle slid as he attempted to latch on to Wallace's through ball.

With time running out Halifax were then reduced to ten men as Charles was dismissed for his second booking after felling Jacob Tapper. It was now desperate for Harry Pearson's side and the final nail in their coffin was nailed in with Atherton's second of the match. Keeper Dean Hanson had been sent up for a corner but, after the ball was cleared, Atherton was able to strike home an effort from the half-way line. The goal may have been vacant but Atherton's ability to control his effort from such a long distance was impressive and it secured his side's route to the final.

That wasn't all though as in the last minute Halifax were reduced to nine men and Derwent added a fourth. The pacey Garness was found by a brilliant Seb Treasure throw and right back Alex Bone, in his attempts to get back, clipped the striker's heels. Garness' touch had been heavy and he most probably wouldn't have scored but the damage was done and, after Bone had received his marching orders, Atherton stepped up to get his third of the day.

Halifax skipper Harry Pearson was deflated at the end of such a great cup run but was quick to praise his side: "I'm pretty devastated. Some of the decisions in the match make the defeat pretty hard to take, it's not the way you want to lose and it makes the defeat a lot harder to take. I'm so proud of my team and it's a shame it couldn't be an all-Halifax final."

His counterpart Joe Boughtflower was particularly impressed with his side's showing: "I thought we came out and really lifted our intensity today. I think their game was to try and match us but we really lifted it. We worked really hard, we had a few injuries but our quality was still good. It was a battling performance but that's what we do well."

Boughtflower and his side will take on Tom Ragan's Halifax firsts in the final, the date of which is yet to be decided.

Derwent firsts: Seb Treasure, Joe Boughtflower, Josh Baines, Dom Henney, Matt Worsfold, Nav Jabarkhyl, Jacob Tapper, Matt Hallam, Jake Farrell, Dan Atherton, Jon Garness. Unused substitute: Will de Silva.

Man of the Match: Dan Atherton

Halifax seconds: Dean Hanson, Alex Bone, Alex Simon, Tom Patrickson, Alex Dempster (Andy Wallace), Ben Rea, (Fraser Moyle), Mark Lund, Luke Charles, Alex Reid, Elliot Ragan, Hamish Denham. Unused substitute: Harry Pearson

Man of the Match: Luke Charles

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