Handsome wins for Halifax teams

Halifax men's firsts v City of York. Michael Jones.
Halifax men's firsts v City of York. Michael Jones.

Halifax men’s first team returned to action in style after a string of cancellations with a 6-1 win away to Sheffield Uni Bankers thirds in the Premier Division.

They were boosted by the availability of star striker Matthew Graham for their trip to a traditionally unhappy hunting ground.

That meant captain Michael Jones could move into a more central midfield role and he controlled the game from the start.

Graham and strike partner Elliott Bullick were linking well and they combined for the opening goal. Bullick ran onto a though ball and beat the last defender for pace. His square pass across the D was slotted home by Graham.

Halifax were soon 2-0 up in similar fashion, Peter Balmforth neatly finishing Bullick’s cross at the back post.

Bankers had a brief period of pressure and dominance towards the end of the first half. They pulled one goal back from a quickly taken free hit and almost got a second but Matthew Breton pulled off an excellent save down to his right and moments later defender David Wheatley cleared off the line.

Halifax refocused for the start of the second half and soon turned their pressure into more goals.

Wheatley and fellow central defender Josh Sutcliffe were controlling the defensive line well, allowing Sutcliffe the space to move forward and pick out key passes.

Two excellent long balls set up Graham for his second and third goals. Graham’s hat-trick effort was the goal of the game as he collected the pass, turned and lobbed the keeper all in one movement.

Bullick’s persistence and clever running troubled the Bankers’ defence all game and he added the fifth after a mazy run.

Jones then made it 6-1 with a trademark drag-flick from a penalty corner after good work from Rob Amos and Jakob Morley down the right.

The drama wasn’t over. In the last couple of minutes Breton conceded a penalty stroke but capped a man of the match performance with a diving save.

Halifax host top of the table Adel at Park Lane on Saturday (12.0).

Halifax Ladies first continued their pursuit of Boston Spa at the top of North Two South East with a 5-2 home win over Kingston-upon-Hull.

They are eight points behind the unbeaten leaders, who drew 1-1 against Doncaster and have played a game more, and seven ahead of third side Rotherham.

Halifax made a blistering start which produced three goals in the first 10 minutes.

Dani Parker struck first with an excellent finish past the Hull goalkeeper following dynamic build up play from Michaela Holyroyde and Amy March.

March doubled the lead from Katie Love’s great through ball, the youngster cleverly rounding the keeper before putting the ball into an open net.

Holroyde made it 3-0 with a deft deflection from a Louise Evans strike after a short corner. However, Halifax dropped the tempo and paid the penalty, Hull scoring from open play.

Halifax were then very unlucky to concede a second in quick succession following a Hull short corner. The umpires, after some deliberation, decided the ball had been struck inside the circle.

Player of the match Ruth Prosser got Halifax back on track just before the interval with a great strike from the top of the circle, leaving the goalkeeper and defenders as bystanders.

A less eventful second half produced only one goal, Parker’s fine finish from a Becca Camp through ball ensuring victory.

The Halifax defence denied Hull any real chances with good performances from Camp, Nat Tyson, Regan Midgley, Leah Kalter and Emma Cavalier.

Halifax will be hoping for a more consistent performance against local rivals Huddersfield Dragons on Saturday.

More hockey reports and pictures in Friday’s ‘Courier’