Image Credit: Andie Pothecary
JAMES COLLEGE football club 3s struggled, to say the least, in the opening Division 2 college football fixture, against a talent-ed Halifax 2s team.
Halifax dominated early possession, with solid control in midfield coming from the two centre halves, Bradley Saffron and Jake Shelton.These two would go on to dominate their final third and not allow James’ attackers any space.
In particular, Freddy Bergdahl was unable to get any room without the whole defensive line breathing down his neck, on what was a tough day for a centre forward.
Despite finding easy space in James’ half, leading to a series of free kicks being awarded, Halifax were unable to create any real chances that could lead to anything fruitful.With 70-odd minutes remaining in the game, there was still time for James to find a reasonable foothold in the game.
This was exactly the case. Find-ing the counter attack as the best option to gain any ground, they sat deep and waited for their oppor-tunity. It came in the form of Cun-ningham playing the ball through to Bergdahl, who was clattered in the box, not only by the keeper Colville, but also Shelton. For me it easily could’ve been given as a penalty, but they referee wasn’t having it and claimed the ball was got first.
Halifax capitalised from their possible good fortune, with a screamer from outside the box, which went straight into the top corner. The small crowd of around seven Halifax supporters did go crazy, however the numbers made it slightly less fitting for how good the goal was.
This set the tone, not only for the rest of the first half, but also the remainder of the fixture.
Halifax started to find so much space in the middle of the pitch, particularly due to the sound work of holding midfielder Ewan Brand, who put in a physical midfield display. He won numerous challenges and was pretty untouchable in the air. A physical back two and holding midfielder appeared the key for Halifax’s success against the much smaller James 3s side.
The goals started to come thick and fast, one more long-range finish amongst them, the rest all results of good football from the whole team. Rory McGregor provided the other great goal, smashing in on the turn, to again beat the withering James 3s keeper, who at this point was getting completely peppered.
Particularly impressive, was George Rogers, who was really applying the pressure up front and causing the clearly nervous back four into playing across goal and making silly mistakes.
The half eventually ended 5-0 with James losing their discipline towards the latter 15 minutes. The midfielders kept getting caught in possession and resorting to fouling Halifax players, simply for damage control. The side representing the York Sport Union’s Club of the Term only had one other chance, in the form of a free kick, which the keeper easily collected. It probably summed up the half for James: lacklustre.
The second half started with much more of the same, Rogers putting more pressure on the back four and keeper. This caused Matt Little, who had come back on the field, to have multiple chances throughout the half and find his luck somewhat 50/50, with a mix of top quality finishes and poorly placed shots right at the goalkeeper.
After the sixth and seventh goal came from more poor play at the back, Little induced some more quality into the game, with another pile driver from outside the box to make it 8-0, with a lot of time to go.
At this point, we really could’ve been looking at a cricket score, but luck seemed to finally be on James’ side with a number of Halifax chances hitting the woodwork or just rolling wide. Tired legs definitely started to contribute to the standard of finishing.
The last ten minutes sadly became somewhat like shooting practice for the Halifax side. Everyone started to take attempts, leading to multiple jeers from even their own supporters at this point. The last goal being the nail in the coffin, a shot right in the middle of the goal. The keeper had lost all confidence at this point and it flew into the roof of the net, to round off a difficult outing for James.
Halifax 2s lost 6-1 in their most recent fixture against Goodricke 2s, while James 3s suffered another lost to Vanbrugh 2s, this time a less imposing 2-1.