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Beadle jubilant as Halifax book their place in the College Cup final

In the second semi final of the College Cup 2012, Halifax narrowly defeated James to ensure they would have a chance to defend their title against Vanbrugh in the final

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Cup Semi Final

Images: Philippa Grafton & Agatha Torrance

In the second semi final of the College Cup 2012, Halifax narrowly defeated James to ensure they would have a chance to defend their title against Vanbrugh in the final. Goals from Matt Mawdesley and Hamish Denham ensured that 'Fax progressed to the final despite having to withstand heavy pressure from James particularly in the second half.

The match started with James in the ascendancy playing with a quick tempo which Halifax struggled to combat. In the opening minute of the match James Davies drove past Dan Turley before shooting and testing Halifax goalkeeper Jonny Sim. Sim then distributed quickly and it looked as if Jack Beadle could well be in on goal only for Sim's opposite number Luke Bradley to be equally alert to the danger.

The next chance once again fell to James and came courtesy of a James Davies free kick from just over the half way line on the right hand side of the pitch. The swinging delivery was misjudged by Sim in goal but Richard Baxter was unable to execute his header as he would have hoped and the ball sailed wide of the goal.

It was all James and the golden chance they had been waiting for soon came. James Davies once again drove from midfield at the Halifax defence and was given far too much time to pick out the perfect pass for James Offord. Offord was through on goal but Jonny Sim somehow kept out the effort and tipped the ball round the post for a corner. Dan Turley was furious that the referee didn't give an offside decision and the referee booked him for dissent.

Despite the pressure being piled on from James, it was Halifax who took a surprise lead with an excellent set piece goal. They had won a corner and Matt Mawdesley rose above his defender connecting with a header which looped agonisingly over Sam Mellor defending the front post and into the net. The Halifax players celebrated wildly as they had drawn first blood in this pulsating tie.

Suddenly the momentum shifted drastically and it was wave after wave of Halifax attacking which had to be dealt with by Nick St George and Matthew Bainbridge in the James defence. Alex Reid found some space on the left and cut inside before rifling an effort against the crossbar with Luke Bradley beaten.

Before James were able to regroup, Halifax had doubled their lead thanks to some sloppy marking. Gio Pilides found Hamish Denham in acres of space but his finish was still exceptional. Halifax now sensed that as long as they kept things tight in defence and kept possession of the ball a place in the final would be theirs.

There were no more chances of note in the first half despite the long throws of Hamish Denham looking dangerous for Halifax. The combination play between Freddie Ferrao and James Davies looked like the most likely way James were going to get back in the match. At half time Halifax had one foot in the final, they led 2-0.

The second half was a scrappy, close-fought contest with James constantly trying to knock down the Halifax wall. It was ten minutes into the half that James were rewarded for their constant pressure as they breached the Halifax defence and scored a much needed goal. Freddie Ferrao used space on the right wing before pulling back to James Offord who stung the hands of Jonny Sim with his effort. The ball rebounded off the keeper and Josh Brownlow was first to react scoring a poachers goal to bring James back into the match.

The last twenty minutes were manic as James searched for an equaliser and Halifax seeked a goal to put the contest beyond doubt. There was to be one magnificent chance for James with the best move of the match. James Davies and Freddie Ferrao exchanged passes and Davies found himself one-on-one with Sim. The Halifax keeper stayed tall and made a superb stop though. From the resulting corner, Richard Baxter threw his body at the ball and almost scored a spectacular diving header.

The best chance for Halifax to seal the match fell to Tom Day who lobbed Luke Bradley in the James goal only for the ball to go the wrong side of the post. This was to be the last action of the match and Halifax will now go on to face Vanbrugh in the final to try and defend their College Cup crown.

After the match, James captain Richard Baxter was disconsolate stating; 'I am very disappointed considering the chances we created. I felt we played some really good football and the clearer cut chances. Unfortunately we didn't take any of them.'

In contrast, Halifax captain Jack Beadle was ecstatic stating; 'I am delighted with the performance, we have raised our game when we needed it most. We now have a chance to defend our title and we are very excited to play Vanbrugh next week in the final.'

James: Bradley, O'Donoghue, Bainbridge, St George, Mellor, Haresnape (Norman), Baxter (c), Davies, Ferrao, Offord, Brownlow

Man of the Match: Richard Baxter

Halifax: Sim, Daly, Turley, Patrickson, Darling, Beadle (c) (Jones), Pilides, Mawdesley, Reid (Meckin), Day, Denham

Man of the Match: Matt Mawdesley

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