Football Sport

Hapless Halifax well-beaten by Derwent

Derwent firsts thrashed a notably below-par Halifax firsts side 4-2 on the 3G at the weekend to maintain their perfect record so far this season

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[flickr-slideshow tags="halifaxderwent181014" caption="Images: Jack Richardson"]

Ryan Gwinnett's Derwent firsts exacted revenge for two successive College Cup final defeats by beating a notably below-par Halifax firsts by four goals to two at the 3G on Saturday. It was an accomplished and assured performance from Derwent, despite lacking a number of regular first-team players, and they were more than worthy of their victory as four different players got onto the score-sheet. Rob Nicholson, Paul Reynolds, Ryan Gwinnett and Josh Bew all found the net as Derwent collected the win.

It was Derwent that started off by far the better side, a pattern which played out throughout the entirety of the first half. In surprisingly good conditions on a dry pitch, they passed the ball with a characteristic level of fluidity and coherence, and their first chance came when Fresher Reynolds bombed on down the left wing, and threaded in Gwinnett. His ball into the box teed up Josh Bew, but Lewis Keane blocked the shot and cleared the danger.

There was a sense that a Derwent goal was inevitable, and it wasn't long before the losing College Cup finalists opened the scoring. After some excellent build-up and a display of attacking prowess in their forward-play, Ron Nicholson picked up a loose ball, split the Halifax defence almost as though it didn't exist, and unleashed a shot that had Jamie Coleman beaten.

Falling behind seemed to temporarily wake Fax up from the lethargy of the opening minutes, as first Guy Bowden, and then Garo Heath and Charlie Dunning tested Peter Bunce in between the Derwent sticks.

Derwent soon contained the threat though, and doubled their lead with less than 20 minutes gone. A superb centre from Jack Low on the right played in Paul Reynolds, and the left back's brilliant shot looped into the top corner at the far post. Shouts for handball from Halifax were waved away.

If the first goal had shocked Halifax, then the second brought them to life; Bowden began to carve out chances from deep in central midfield, and Tom Shelbourn had to head away a dangerous ball from a corner. Elliot Testor also began to come into the game more, and Fax eventually grabbed a goal back. Following some good build-up, Garo Heath ghosted in from the left to smash home and reduce the deficit to one.

A great passage of play between Henry Collins, George Waring and Charlie Dunning then almost brought an equaliser, but the Lions were made to rue their missed opportunities. Alex Ingham, introducing himself after coming on for the injured Nicholson, provided a perfect ball for Gwinnett to nick in behind the defence and restore Derwent's two-goal advantage at 3-1 just before half time.

Derwent once again started the second period with intent as Oli Bull cleared a shot from Gwinnett, but the leading side's tiredness progressively began to show and Halifax took full advantage. Less than ten minutes into the second half, it was 3-2 as Waring played in Dunning, whose shot found the back of the net.

Halifax were beginning to grow in confidence as the effects of a pulsating first half took its toll on their opponents; this was Derwent's first match of the season after last week's game against Wentworth firsts was conceded because the Postgrads failed to field a team. Dunning was released again just moments later, but a brilliant block from Mark Askham - who had a fantastic game at right back - averted any danger.

At the other end, Bew then tested Coleman with a good effort from a free kick, before a good corner delivery from Gwinnett saw Shelbourn get his header on target.

Halifax pressed again as Heath tested the Derwent defence, while Collins and Testor were combining well. However, the Lions still remained sloppy in possession, and this was costing them the ability to unlock a resolute Derwent backline.

However, as the game progressed, Derwent were becoming increasingly stretched due to injuries and a lack of fitness. They went down to ten men as Nicholson was forced off with injury and they had no remaining subs; with Shelbourn already off injured, Derwent ended the game with virtually no midfield as they had to dig in deep to defend a late wave of Halifax attacks.

However, the points were secured in the dying moments as Gwinnett set up Bew on the counter-attack, and the frontman's shot bounded in off the keeper to make it 4-2. It was a very strong performance from Derwent, who came out of the stalls and set themselves up for a good victory early on. Credit must also go to Halifax for getting themselves back into the game twice after a tough first half. However, Derwent defended well and closed out the game well when they found themselves under the cosh.

After the match, pleased Derwent captain Ryan Gwinnett told Nouse, "We had to dig deep today on this pitch. I'm really pleased with the shift we put in because we showed a lot of character. We had about eight first-team players missing today, so we called up a lot of the seconds players. I think I'll be calling on them again.

"Fitness is something we need, but Halifax are one of the sternest tests of the season for us and we came through with a win. We also gelled as a team, so I'm pleased."

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