Double sets up Bankers title push

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Sheffield University Bankers move one step closer to being crowned league champions after beating both Wakefield and city rivals Sheffield Hallam last weekend.

The side’s 12th and 13th wins of the season, and their eighth in a row saw them remain unbeaten in North 1 Division, in second place on 42 points - five fewer than leaders City of York, who have played an extra two games.

Head coach Matt Northcott, aged 23, was relieved with the hard fought 2-1 victory over Wakefield on Saturday and was particularly pleased with the team’s defence: “We started amazingly by securing two goals in the first 10 minutes,” said Matt, who has been head coach since the summer.

“But then they woke up and it became a very tough game with us having to battle till the very end.

“They got a goal early in the second half and it was our defence that then kept us in the game. We had to make some incredible last-ditch tackles but we stayed strong and ground out the result.

“Overall the side was still a bit rusty after the long break we’ve had but it was an excellent result, which we deserved as we dominated the majority of the game.”

In the heated city derby the next day it was a different story as Bankers ran out emphatic 8-1 winners over their rivals after a Nick Fletcher hat-trick, a brace from Jack Culmer goal and strikes from Jimmy Osborne, Josh Darling and Will Galloway.

Seven goals came in the second half and Matt added: “The game started off very tensely but at half time I had a stern word and told the players not to rush play through the middle phase and the attack really woke up.

“We were very impressive when we got going and we showed the sort of free-flowing form we were playing at the start of the season.

“I thought the game would be closer but as soon as we got a grip on it in the second half and starting putting moves together, Hallam had no chance. It was a fantastic team performance.”

Club chairmanBob Hindle added: “Along with the footy derby, this is the one of the fieriest rivalries in the city and it was a brilliant battle to watch.

“The players were incredibly clinical in the second half and once we got going we blew Hallam away. Promotion and becoming champions is now entirely up to us, though City of York might have a say!”

Bankers now look to continue their unbeaten run in this weekend’s double header, as they take on struggling Crewe Vagrants away tomorrow followed by sixth placed Neston South Wirral at home the next day.

Captain Matt Godden, aged 23, said: “We can’t be complacent in the next two games and I want to see us progressing in each match. I don’t want us scraping results now - it’s time to push on and start racking up those goals.

“Crewe may be struggling but we are coming to the end of the season and every club will want to finish on a high, so you have to watch out for everyone.

“We know Neston will be a tough challenge too so everybody’s head has to be in the game for this weekend. It’s good that we are having two games as it will sharpen us up so we can hit top form when we take on York in that crucial game at the end of February.

“Everybody on the team wants to get their hands on the trophy and we can control what happens in the league, we just have to perform like I know we can.”