Last term’s dominant force and 1-0 specialists Vanbrugh Firsts were defeated by Goodricke Seconds today in a huge upset in the College Cup group stages.
Worryingly for Vanbrugh – one of the favourites for the Cup – the league champions were outplayed right across the park by a team they were expected beat by three or four. Two goals from stand-in striker Andy Myhill and one from first team crossover Dave Coupland sealed the win for Michael Sneddon’s team.
Myhill capitalised on some uncharacteristically sloppy defending by Sam Tuck in the centre of Vanbrugh’s defense to take the lead in an otherwise uneventful first period. Dogged work in the midfield had Vanbrugh’s stars visibly frustrated, with the superb Josh “Tank” Barker in keeping a tight lock on University Firsts captain Matt Witherwick in the centre. He deservedly picked up the Man of the Match award to chants of “Unit, Unit, Unit” from the supporters on the sidelines.
“We were bad” Vanbrugh midfielder Matt Oliver conceded after the match. “On grass we rely on our fitness and ability to run teams into the ground over 90 minutes. But on the astro we just haven’t been as effective – most of our players could probably run another 60 minutes at that tempo.”
A bigger issue for the Oliver, though, was the lack of organisation throughout the team, which looked desperately underprepared for the resiliance and heart of a Goodricke side spurred on by the enigmatic Coupland in attack. Vanbrugh did equalize midway through the second period through Mark Gouland’s opportunist header – Goodricke keeper Paul Hickling had dallied on collecting a high ball, allowing the £8.1m man to sneak in for his second of the tournament – but Vanbrugh’s renewed hope was short-lived. An incisive run by Coupland followed by a clever ball from Rob Shanley set up Myhill for his second and the gathered crowd went wild, the sweet pungence of a stunning upset accosting the nostrils.
When Coupland added a third minutes later, deftly flicking a header past the helpless Paul Taylor and ripping off his shirt as he peeled away, the magic of the Cup had been well and truly reborn on the sandy turf of the JLD after last week’s rather predictable results card.
Ali Prince notched a second goal for the disjointed Vanbrugh side, and did look a useful threat off the bench and, late on, Tristan Buckley had a glorious chance to equalize, but directed his header over from close range. But Tom Sheldrick will now have to endure the tedious hours back at the drawing board to solve the problems in attack – the pairing of Buckley and Gouland looking ill-concieved, clogging up the classic target-man area.
“That was probably one of the greatest ever college upsets,” Goodricke Seconds’ manager Michael Sneddon professed after the game. Sneddon has a very decent outit on his hands – it won the second team league title last term – and, with some chutzpah, brought himself on for a cameo appearance in the final few minutes.
If Goodricke, as is now expected, go on to beat the Halifax Thirds and Langwith Seconds sides that played out a dull 1-1 draw in the afternoon’s other fixture, Vanbrugh Firsts will need to beat tournament favourites Derwent in order to progress to the quarter finals.