MEN IN THE BOX: Wits first team men's side prepares for a short corner taken by UJ in the first half. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

MEN IN THE BOX: Wits first team men’s side prepares for a short corner taken by UJ in the first half.                                                                                                                                                          Photo: Nqobile Dludla

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) 1st team men came up top in the UJ vs Wits Hockey Derby friendly tournament with a clinical 5-2 victory over Wits on Saturday at UJ Hockey Astro.

UJ wasted no time when the first half began as they showed Wits why they clinched the 2014 Varsity Hockey title.

UJ’s midfield ace Taylor Dart threatened to take UJ into the lead just 2 minutes into the game when his square cross from Brandon Panther was deflected by Wits’ goalkeeper Xander van Biljoen.

Another chance came from UJ’s Gareth Heyns who smacked a hopeful shot from the quarter line, but van Biljoen was too quick for his confident attempt.

With UJ dominating the first half with ball possession, Wits finally applied pressure in the back and moved the ball up past the center line and inside UJ’s D. However after much fight Wits’ Jon Haughton lost what could have been a lead goal for Wits when his advance was quickly stolen from him.

Panther quickly raced down and smacked the ball inside the top corner to send the home crowd into wild celebrations with a 1-0 lead to UJ 5 minutes into the game.

A wasted corner by UJ could have sent the fast paced men into a 2-0 lead, however Nic Rowe failed to stop the ball outside the top D.

After two more wasted chances, UJ’s Gerald Mpopo calmly pushed the ball between van Biljoen’s legs to send the hosts into a 2-0 lead.

Wits tried to redeem themselves in the last 6 minutes of the first half when upon winning a short corner, Jordi Sanders’ attempt was deflected by UJ’s goalkeeper Mattew Martins. A second chance for Wits came from Dylan Murray as he smacked a powerful shot that went wide of the post.

It was only in the last dying minutes that Wits started applying more pressure and equalized ball possession, but UJ held out well and took their two-goal lead into halftime.

Wits coming back strong in the second half

UJ had more powerplay at the start of the 2nd half as they attacked Wits in an attempt to take the game way beyond their traditional foe. Heyns slammed a goal, taking the hosts to a 3-0 lead after UJ won their second short corner.

Wits finally pulled back one showing plenty of fighting spirit when Haughton scored a goal, leaving the score at 3-1 to UJ.

After a failed attempt from a third short corner, Bryon Cleak responded with a 4-1 goal by pushing up-field and taking the ball into the Wits D and flicking it inside the right corner of the post.

It didn’t take long for Wits to respond when a hopeful short corner taken by Sean Donaldson went straight to Sanders who sent one in, leaving the score at 4-2 to UJ.

The Varsity Hockey champs extended their lead with just 1 minute left when a goal was scored before the game ended. Although Wits were able to pull 2 back, it was not enough to avoid defeat as the game finished 5-2 to UJ.

Score update: